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To end disability pride month, the SA wanted to highlight a couple of instructors who have contributed to Inclusion Alberta through their work with students with developmental/intellectual disabilities. We would like to thank Misha Albert (Fine Arts Instructor), Clinton Derocher (Trades Instructor), and Heather Joyce (Humanities and Social Sciences Instructor) for their continued work towards inclusion and accessibility here at NWP.


Why do you think Northwestern Polytechnic has a responsibility to include individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities?

Misha Albert | We all have a responsibility to embrace inclusion and Northwestern Polytechnic as a public institution has a responsibility to include individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities. I strongly believe education should be accessible to everyone. We at Northwestern Polytechnic are here because of and for the communities we serve, notably Grande Prairie, Fairview, and the Peace Region. Our communities are diverse and rich, and there is a place for all within our walls. Through inclusion, this diversity and richness provides us all with new perspectives from which we can work, grow, and make us better.


Clinton Derocher | This is a hard question to answer. You see I believe as a public institution we have the obligation to include all students that want to have a higher education. But when you say obligation that means it’s something that you have to do, not necessarily want to do. I would like to see all colleges and institutions across Alberta not feel it as an obligation, but to embrace including people with a developmental disability into any area of learning.

How do you think the inclusion of individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities at Northwestern Polytechnic impacts the community?

Misha | I hope inclusion breaks down the silos we often find ourselves in, and as a result, we all work together to become a stronger, more integrated community. I have continually made my classes available to individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities and I will readily admit that our classroom community has been enriched. It has made me a better instructor, and in-turn enhanced our shared experience. The rewards are incredible when we witness new perspectives, appreciate new approaches to learning, and integrate new ways to interact and communicate. Our community (in the classroom, and NWP) becomes a mosaic of incredibly unique individuals uniting to form a chef d’oeuvre.


Clinton | What we do at Northwestern Polytechnic has a huge impact on the community we serve. I think the most obvious impact we provide is that as a learning institution we provide the workforce for the area we serve, and that workforce should be as diverse as the area we serve. However, I think a more fundamental impact we have on the community is we are role models for the community and as that role model we need to include everyone.

How do you think the inclusion of individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities in education and employment can impact the Fine Arts community?

Misha | The Fine Arts community has always been a safe haven of inclusion and acceptance; a beacon of light to welcome one home. Our community invites exploration, encourages creativity, and holds space to share stories. Individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities help us grow our collective existence through sharing their perspectives. Every art form acts as a window into the lives of others. By nurturing art and storytelling, we are able to better understand one another and create empathy--a windfall for the Fine Arts community. In- turn, Fine Arts play an important role in our society by shaping cultures and building a better understanding of mankind, which creates a win-win situation for all involved, aided by inclusion. We are all better off for it.


How do you think the inclusion of individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities in education and employment can impact the Trades community?

Clinton | Back in 2019 when I started to talk to the folks at Inclusion Alberta about including a student in the trades program, I was shocked and saddened that this had never been done before. Again, this was 2019. We often hear it’s harder and harder to find people to enter into the trades programs. I think we just need to open it up to a larger demographic.

Can you talk about some ways you have helped students with developmental/intellectual disabilities and the impact it had seeing how they did in the classroom and/or once they completed their Trade and moved into their field of employment?

Clinton | I remember the first time I had brought up in a meeting that I wanted to include a student with a developmental disability into the millwright trades program. There was a lot of opposition that stemmed from a lot of confusion that people had of what someone with a developmental disability would be capable of doing. Once I explained the importance of what we were doing and the impact it would have the support slowly grew.

I can honestly say seeing the first student with a developmental disability complete the first-year millwright theory and shop was the highlight of my career. Since that time, I have been asked to chair the trades initiative at Inclusion Alberta and also, I have been invited to speak to many colleges around Alberta and BC about the importance of getting students with developmental disabilities into their trades programs. I am happy to say that every day our sphere of influence is growing.


Can you tell us about your experience working with Inclusion Alberta and having a student from their program in your classroom?

Heather Joyce | Welcoming a student from Inclusion Alberta’s inclusive post-secondary education program into one of my courses was a transformative experience.


While the student clearly benefited from the friendships he cultivated with his peers, he also positively contributed to their learning. His genuine excitement to be in the classroom set the tone for each lecture. In particular, his willingness to take risks and contribute to class discussions and his seamless, whole-hearted performances of key scenes from plays we considered encouraged other students to find their voices over the course of the semester. Class participation noticeably increased as his peers followed his example.


I also took my cue from him. Building outlets for the student’s passion for performance into the course made lectures more enjoyable for everyone involved and gave me the means to allow him to develop and demonstrate some of the same close-reading skills as his peers, reminding me of the importance of devising lectures and assignments that allow students’ strengths to find expression.


My experience with this program unequivocally illustrates why postsecondary institutions should be diverse and inclusive. Giving the student a voice in the classroom enabled him to contribute to the learning community as he developed social connections and learned about literary analysis; he was able to claim full membership in our class. Hearing his voice in the classroom not only challenged our preconceptions about the abilities of those with developmental disabilities but also increased his peers’ engagement with the course and inspired me to become a better instructor.

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  • SA GPRC

Updated: Sep 1, 2022

written by Jillian Leslie, NWPSA Department Coordinator


A new school term has just begun, the Students Association of Northwestern Polytechnic Executive Team is thrilled to have the halls filled with students once again. It’s eerie being in an empty building all summer getting organized for the year ahead. Although attending post-secondary schooling is an exciting milestone in one’s life it is also an expensive endeavour. For some student’s tuition and rent take priority over diet and hygiene needs. According to Macleans [link: https://www.macleans.ca/education/the-fight-to-end-hunger-on-canadian-university-campuses/] a staggering 40% of Canadian post-secondary students are food insecure (Sing, 2021). Here at the Students’ Association (SA) we want students to strive in their education and be focused on their STUDIES not their next meal. We have a student foodbank entitled the Room of Plenty to aid in food insecurities on our campus as well as hygiene needs. The items are collected via donation at various events the SA will be hosting for students on campus through out the school terms.


The first event of the year that we will be hosting in order to collect donation items is a Dunk Tank for well…dunking! Those sitting awaiting their fate will be NWP staff members including the Dean and various department professors and staff members. Wanting to donate and item to try to dunk a specific staff member into cold water? Their timeslots are noted on the posters with their photo and name on them, please come to the SA to view who is on the roster or check out the campus bulletin boards! The dunking begins at 11am on Sept 2 at the outdoor amphitheatre. Check out events page for more info and for other events hosted by the SA on campus [link: https://www.nwpsa.ca/events ].


Know of a fellow student who is food insecure or in need of some hygiene products? Perhaps you are a bit strapped for cash this month and are in need of some assistance. If so, don’t worry you don’t have to come into the SA and disclose your situation if you don’t want to, you may simply fill out a form on the NWPSA website [link: https://www.nwpsa.ca/room-of-plenty ]. You will receive an e-mail when your order has been filled much like a ‘click and collect’ service the SA will have your items placed discretely in a reusable tote so no one will notice you leaving our offices with grocery bags.


Several studies have associated food insecurity with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorder, mood disorders or suicidal thoughts. If you are in need of mental health resources, please note there are several resources for students to access [link: https://www.nwpsa.ca/mental-health]. We wish everyone on campus a wonderful school year and hope the Room of Plenty as well as other student lead initiatives on campus ensure each student thrives in their studies!








References

Sing, Nathan. 2021, October 21. The flight to end hunger on Canadian university campuses https://www.macleans.ca/education/the-fight-to-end-hunger-on-canadian-university-campuses/

Unknown. n.d. Understanding Household Food Insecurity. Proof Food Insecurity Policy Research. Retrieved from: https://proof.utoronto.ca/food-insecurity/#health

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  • Writer's pictureNWPSA

On June 6, 2022 Northwestern Polytechnic raised the Pride flag for the first time in institutional history. NWPSA worked diligently with the Executive Council of NWP to ensure that students would know that they are welcome at our institution.



"The pride flag represents diversity and inclusivity for all members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and their allies. Historically, this institution has never flown the pride flag and we are asking that we start to make this change today. As Northwestern Polytechnic moves forwards in its values of responsiveness and innovation, we ask that the institution also recognize where it has not yet paved a path forward. To take a stand against discrimination, exclusionary practices and the abuse that much of this community has faced."


This event was well attended by the community and members of Northwestern Polytechnic. Members from GALAP, GP Pride Society, Northreach Society and CBYF were all in attendance. We extend gratitude to the Executive Council of Northwestern Polytechnic, Loretta Parenteau-English for blessing our ceremony and the community and faces who attended to show our students how supportive our community is.

"While today, we raise the Pride Flag to show the rest of the community that we stand with our 2SLGBTQIA+ community, we recognize that there is still work to do. Pride was born out of protest and we carry a moral obligation to not stop with the raising of this flag. There is work to be done within our communities to ensure that every person feels safe to be who they are. This means continuing to educate ourselves every day to ensure that we are employing the best and most inclusive practices. This means prioritizing understanding the importance of intersectionality. This means educating ourselves to effectively stand alongside every person who faces systemic exclusions"

- Tahnia Getson (they/her), NWPSA Executive Director


The Pride flag went up on both the Grande Prairie campus, as well as the Fairview campus. We are excited to ensure that this flag goes up each and every June at both Campuses. We also recognize that this is just the tip of the iceberg in order to make change in our institution.


"Raising this flag means a number of things. One of them being diversity [...] Being yourself shouldn't be scary. It should be normal, hiding away gets you no where." - Joshua Winland (he/him), NWPSA Vice President External

NWPSA wants every person to see it to know that they are welcome and encouraged to be their authentic self in any of our spaces, regardless of race, gender identity, sexuality, ability or religion. If you are not currently in a safe place to come out as your authentic self, please know that this flag is for you as well and that our office is always open as a safe place for you. If you need additional supports, please know that there are community organizations waiting to welcome you with open arms. GALAP, who is in attendance with us here is ready and waiting to welcome you. If you are, or know, a youth between the ages of 13-17 who need support, please reach out to Youth Mentor at the Northreach Society, who is also in attendance with us here today. And if you are looking for community events during the month of June, GP Pride is welcoming all.


If you require additional supports please consider using online safe spaces such as The Trevor Project, LGBTQ Student Resources & Support, the Matthew Shepard Foundation or the Lifeline Canada Foundation. You can also turn to glaad.org for a list of online resources.


"Remember to be loud, take up space and to always be unapologetically you. We cannot wait to welcome you with open arms at NWPSA." - Tahnia Getson





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