New NWIC building will open with community celebration

A grand opening celebration for the new Northwest Indian College (NWIC) Cooperative Extension Building will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Dec. 2.

The event, which is free and open to the community, will include a prayer and blessing of the building, a ribbon cutting, a meal consisting of traditional foods and a guest speaker (to be announced) who will talk about the importance of food sovereignty and of the Cooperative Extension department’s work to tribal peoples.

“Our Cooperative Extension Building is a gathering place for those who work with our community outreach, wellness, financial literacy and community education services,” NWIC President Cheryl Crazy Bull said. “They will have a place to meet, plan and evaluate. Most importantly, they will use the classroom and kitchen to pass on the skills and resources of our communities. ”

Right now, the department’s employees are in two different buildings, which makes collaboration more difficult. The new building will put all Cooperative Extension employees working on NWIC’s Lummi Campus under one roof, department director Susan Given-Seymour said.

“Every one of the 10 people in our department is very happy that we are soon going to move into our building,” Given-Seymour said.

The new $1.3-million facility was designed to look like a house, which Given-Seymour hopes will make community members feel welcome.

“We wanted it to feel like a home,” she said. “We really want to be a welcome visible space for the community. ”

That’s because “community” is what NWIC’s Cooperative Extension department is all about. The department provides community education and has a mission to promote self-sufficiency and wellness for indigenous people through culturally grounded, multi-generational, and holistic programs.

During the 2009-2010 academic year, Cooperative Extension instructors provided approximately 300 programs to more than 5,200 people. The community education programs have been hosted by 26 of Washington’s 29 tribes.

In addition to allowing the department’s employees to work together in one building, the new facility also has more amenities than the old one, which was offices only. The building has a commercial kitchen, a classroom and offices.

At the new building, instructors plan to teach classes on harvesting, cooking and preserving traditional and other local foods, financial skills for families, homebuyer education, basket weaving, tribal food sovereignty, developing medicinal gardens and more.

“Through the college's extension services, we connect the value of taking care of ourselves and each other with our knowledge of wellness, cultural arts and family,” Crazy Bull said. “Extension services reach out to bring people together to share stories, skills and relationships. ”

For more information or to RSVP, contact NWIC Events Coordinator Tsoniki Crazy Bull at tcrazybull@nwic.edu or (360) 392-4217.