BHP supports Indigenous land-based learning at NIC

NIC, BHP and community representatives meet at NIC’s Mixalakwila campus

A $325,000 donation by BHP Canada will support Indigenous land-based learning on the North Island for the next five years.

The company is funding the Awi’nakola program, based at NIC’s Mixalakwila campus in Port Hardy. Meaning “we are one with the land and sea,” Awi’nakola combines in-class instruction with land-based cultural learning and Indigenous language courses.

“We draw on Kwak’wala and our Kwakwaka’wakw ways of knowing and being to inform academic learning,” said Sara Child, NIC faculty member and Indigenous Education Facilitator.

The courses are structured to focus on student strengths and to support students as they work toward their goals.

“It’s really about taking a journey together as we explore land-based and culturally infused learning – the intent of which is to meet the needs of our students and help them succeed,” added Child.

The Awi’nakola program was offered to students tuition-free, funded through individual grant applications. The donation from BHP will allow the program to run from September to April, with multiple entry points for students.

“BHP invests in communities near our assets to respond to community need and create social value. Our social investment aims to support a successful, adaptable and resilient workforce for the future,” said Jay Hartling, Principal, Corporate Affairs Legacy Assets. “The Awi’nakola Program near our Island Copper Legacy Asset is tailored specifically to enhance Indigenous students’ learning experiences in their own territory, and their own culture. We are proud to support such an innovative and important program.”

The funding, facilitated through the NIC Foundation, will begin for the next Awi’nakola intake, scheduled to start September 19.

Learn more about the Awi’nakola program

More on This Story

About BHP Canada

BHP is a world-leading resources company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and operates in more than 90 locations around the world. BHP focuses on the resources the world needs to grow and decarbonize. Copper for renewable energy. Nickel for electric vehicles. Potash for sustainable farming. Iron ore and metallurgical coal for the steel needed for global infrastructure and the energy transition, today and for the future.

About the NIC Foundation

The NIC Foundation has been advancing student success, education and community growth through NIC for more than 29 years. It supports NIC students through scholarships and bursaries, equips classrooms with current technology and ensures the best possible learning facilities are accessible on the Central and North Island. It envisions a future where every student has the opportunity to pursue post‐secondary education, train for a new career or develop employable skills to support themselves and their families.

To support the NIC Foundation and make a difference in the lives of post‐secondary students, call 250-334-5074 or visit

Media Contacts
Elizabeth Young
Communication Officer, North Island College
Phone: 250-334-5233

Jay Hartling
Principal Corporate Affairs, Legacy Assets Canada, BHP
Phone: 902-329-8310