A member of the Ahousaht Nation and NIC alum, Bennett is the first Nuu-chah-nulth member to take on the Port Alberni campus administrator role since the college first began operations in the Valley in 1976.
“For the first time, we will have a Nuu-chah-nulth woman be a leader at the NIC campus in our traditional territory,” said Bennett. “I want to do more for the Nations, the communities and the peoples by being at NIC - I have a significant understanding of the peoples in the Alberni-Clayoquot region and how NIC can play a role in building further opportunities, partnerships and success in our region as this is my children’s and my home.”
Bennett first joined NIC in 2021 as the Manager of Indigenous and Regional Partnerships, where she developed and oversaw a growing number of educational partnerships with Indigenous peoples and organizations across the Alberni-Clayoquot region.
With the retirement of campus administrator, Felicity Blaiklock on Aug. 31, Bennett becomes responsible for overall Port Alberni campus leadership and operations, while continuing to build community partnerships.
“From early days, it was clear that Marisa was an inspirational leader at NIC—she simply stood out in the thoughtful and strategic ways in which she developed programs and cultivated partnerships in the Port Alberni region,” said Tony Bellavia, Vice President, Academic. “While NIC will miss Felicity very much, we are excited to see all that Marisa can accomplish, now that she has taken on the formal leadership role as Associate Director, Indigenous Regional Partnerships and Port Alberni Campus Administrator.”
Bennett, a lifelong west coast resident, is well known to many in the Alberni Valley. Together with Bob Haugen, NIC’s Director of Continuing Education and Training, she represents NIC on the Port Alberni Learning Council, and she previously worked as a Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program Manager. She has been at the forefront of program and partnership development in the Port Alberni area including the Tseshaht Facilities Maintenance program with the Tseshaht First Nation and the Indigenous Language Fluency program with the Ehattesaht First Nation.
“I am very fortunate to be building on the work of our ancestors and their teachings, as well as the advocacy from a variety of First Nations leaders who made it clear Nations should be a part of education and making their own pathways in education,” said Bennett. “I am also grateful for my experiences in education, both when I struggled at my previous educational institutions but also when I found my way to success at NIC. I am looking forward to work with the west coast communities to achieve success together.”