Kicking off graduation season in Merritt for 2023, the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) held its graduation ceremony at its Eagles Perch campus on Friday (June 9). More than 200 students adorned their cap and gown for the two in person ceremonies, with family, friends, and faculty members alike cheering them on. 

Marius Auer/Herald

For the first time in the school’s 40 year history, two graduation ceremonies were held as a part of grad processions. The second ceremony was focused on graduates of Indigenous language programs held by the school in communities all over the province in an effort to revitalize Indigenous languages that were eroded through the residential school system.

“Language is the key to identity, it connects Indigenous people to the land,” said Dr. John Chenoweth, vice-president of academics at NVIT.

“As a school, we have to do everything in our power to support communities to rebuild languages that were lost through residential schools. We make every effort as a school to support communities, no matter where they are, that want to articulate language courses and build language programs. We do that all over the province, it’s our responsibility to do that.”

Marius Auer/Herald

In addition to the Indigenous language graduation ceremony, NVIT was also a part of the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus graduation, which included a first for Indigenous language education. 

For the first time in history, eight Syilx Okanagan students graduated with a degree taught in their language and delivered on their land when they were conferred their Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency (BNLF) degrees on Thursday at UBC Okanagan’s campus in Kelowna. The new degree, delivered in the Nsyilxcn language, was made available through a partnership between UBC, NVIT, and the En’owkin Centre in Penticton.

“We’re honoured to collaborate with the En’owkin Centre and UBCO to support the revitalization of Indigenous Languages by offering language fluency certificates, diplomas and degrees,” said a statement from NVIT’s Senior Leadership Team. 

“NVIT congratulates the inaugural UBCO Bachelor of Nsyilxcn Language Fluency graduates and extends our respect to all involved in bringing the vision to creation.”

Courses included in the BNLF are taught in Nsyilxcn, and cover the topics of numeracy, the arts, and sciences. Students can complete a two-year diploma program through NVIT, and then transfer to UBCO for the degree portion.

Including their Indigenous language courses, NVIT awarded students more than 400 academic credentials this school year.