Patrick Davies photo Val Biffert (from left), a concerned citizen and mother of a TRU alumni, listens as Johnathan Whonnock, a resolution health support worker with the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, discusses TRU with Pat Biblow and Bryan Daly of TRU at the Envision TRU Public Consultation.

TRU hosts second round of public consultations

A dozen concerned lakecity locals came out to the Pioneer Complex to provide their feedback

A dozen concerned lakecity locals came out to the Pioneer Complex for round two of Williams Lake: Envision TRU Community Consultation on Thursday, Sept. 12.

This is part of an ongoing public consultation TRU is hosting across the Interior of B.C. to determine what programs and services the community wish to see at the university in the future. The last round of consultation they held prior to Envision TRU concluded in 2014, with the findings from those meetings informing TRU’s direction for the last five years.

The meeting was chaired, like the first round held in July, by TRU’s associate vice president of marketing and communications Lucille Gnanasihamany who began the discussion by summarizing the findings of the first round of public consultations. Chief among them were expanding programs, offering more incentives for local students and ensuring TRU remains a research-focused institution.

“Student success almost became like the hub of a wheel,” Gnanasihamany said, gesturing to a mind map, going on to explain it was this core idea everything else turned around.

Concerns among students, who primarily range in age from 17 to 24 at TRU, Gnanasihamany said, involved topics such as climate change, social justice, sustainability and intercultural understanding. The need to be inclusive for everyone they found was also a major concern for most of the students they talked to.

Read More: Calls for TRU to enhance nursing program heard at Envision TRU consultation

A priority going forward for TRU will be ensuring they are adequately preparing their students for the future job market that awaits them. According to the B.C. Labour Boards Gnanasihamany said it is expected there will be 900,000 new jobs emerging in the province over the next decade, not counting retirements, and that many of these jobs will be in the tech industry.

“We want our youth to be able to take advantage of these options,” Gnanasihamany said.

Currently, Gnanasihamany said there are more people working in the tech sector than in the forestry, mining and oil and gas sectors combined, with that number only anticipated to grow.

After presenting the composite of the various issues brought up at the last consultations, Gnanasihamany divided the attendees into four groups and had them discuss what they thought should be added to the list. These included greater support for future students, addressing the continuing impacts and effects of residential schools on the familial structures of Indigenous communities and increasing the TRU campus in Williams Lake’s regional autonomy amongst others.

This consultation was the 25th they’ve held of a planned 50, with interested community members encouraged to chime in online via Envision TRU’s website.

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Lucille Gnanasihamany outlines how everything TRU does revolve around the idea of student success, like the hub of a wheel. Patrick Davies photo.

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