Collaboration in the Interior opens new doors

Institutions in the Interior region are working together towards common goals, many of which relate to furthering open education and — more recently — meeting their faculty learning needs. This collaboration has direct impacts on the communities these institutions serve and greatly affects their region.

Post by Ross McKerlich, Open Education Advisor, Regional Representative, Interior

College of the Rockies and Selkirk College have a strong existing relationship as a result of being a key part of the Interior of B.C. In addition to the team approach to tackling the learning, research, and innovation needs of the region, Selkirk College and College of the Rockies immediately initiated communication when COVID-19 altered their respective learning landscapes. Along with BCcampus, the two institutions worked together to consider faculty development synergies and now invite each other to participate in some joint faculty professional development.

A similar invitation was made during Open Education Week in March when the Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union held a series of open education workshops and invited their open colleagues at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology to attend. This provided a learning opportunity as well as the chance to build relationships between and strengthen open education initiatives at the two institutions.

Finally, the University of British Columbia Okanagan hosted an open education event during their reading week in February which included a keynote by Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani, Associate Vice Provost of Open Education at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Representatives from Okanagan College attended, and the event was livestreamed and recorded so many institutions could benefit.

Collaborations like these strengthen the Interior region and drive new ideas such as open education forward. It is inspiring to see institutions realize the benefits of working together in this uncertain time. Whether it is inviting other institutions to open events or proposing that neighbouring institutions join forces to provide for faculty development needs, collaboration is making an impact in the Interior region of British Columbia.

Learn more:

Expanding Open Education in the Trades

Earlier this year, we posted a call for proposals that aimed to increase and improve the application, awareness, and sustainability of open education in trades training. The Open Education for Trades Grant may also be used for, but is not limited to, the development of open textbooks, instructor resources, media, open test banks, or ancillary resources. 

Post by Tim Carson, Trades Open Education Representative

Given our current pivot, it took us some time to get the necessary pieces in place, but we can now proudly announce the grant recipients and the projects they’ll be working on: 

Author(s)InstitutionGrant AwardProject
Aaron LeeBCIT$5,000HVAC Electrical for Electrical Apprenticeship
Michelle NakanoKPU$5,000Line F — Levels 3 and 4 — Horticulture/Landscape
Bruce NeidCMC$5,000Welding OER Instructor Resources
Mark OvergaardChad FlinnBCIT$20,000Math for Trades: Volume 2
HairstylistArticulation Group$20,000Line F13, F14, F15
Sheet MetalCamosun/OkanaganCollege$40,000Gap Analysis, Level 1 Alignment, Starting Level 1 Apprenticeship
MillwrightArticulation Group$25,000Revising Level 1 Content

It is our plan to ensure these projects are completed by December 31, 2020, if not sooner, given the increased need for these resources.

We have just released the first of four projects from our previous term: you can find Math for Trades: Volume 1 (Mark Overgaard and Chad Flinn) in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection. The other three projects — which will be completed shortly — are Basic Motor Control (Electrical), Red Seal Landscape Horticulturist Identify Plants and Plant Requirements for Line F2 – Level 1 and 2 (Horticulture), and a forthcoming textbook for Welding Level 1/Foundation Practical.

There has been some interest from other trades faculty in the system with regard to building resources for their particular trade and apprentice needs. In response to these inquires, we have made more grant funding available.

If you or another faculty member wishes to talk more about what is available and/or opportunities for projects, please get in touch with me at and we’ll talk.

Learn more:

CapU Dives Deep into Open Education

Through an open education grant from BCcampus, the team at Capilano University has relaunched their open education program, including the adoption and adaptation of open textbooks that will deliver substantial savings (estimated at $88,000 per year for a single change in a particular course) for their students, while providing an experiential learning opportunity.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Last fall, when Capilano University received an open education sustainability grant from BCcampus, they seized the opportunity to review their current open education structure to find areas to improve.

“We had a slow start for our open education program,” explained Laura MacKay, director of the Centre for Teaching Excellence at Capilano University. “With the funds from BCcampus, matched by Capilano University, we were able to create and execute a strategy to relaunch our program effectively. We are now passionately and proactively working with our students and faculty to build a stronger open education environment. We have hosted events, such as the faculty/student panel during Open Education Week in March, where students and teachers spoke about their experiences with open education. One of our students in the IDEA School of Design, Sara Lilley, created a logo for our open education initiative, and we are developing workshops for non-disposable assignments — for example, where students create infographics, co-create assignment alternatives, and help us co-develop experiential programs for our Cap Core framework.”

CapU is using the funds to:

  • Develop a faculty and student open pedagogy sprint to create a bank of material focused on experiential education
  • Create an Open Education Showcase to raise awareness and interest in open education work
  • Provide ongoing support for open textbooks through a series of workshops on Pressbooks and Creative Commons licensing
  • Archive open textbooks in their own repository of educational materials

“Time is the biggest barrier to adopting and adapting open textbooks,” said Laura. “The sustainability grant from BCcampus gave our open education faculty associates access to supports, so they can look at the resources and understand how to customize the materials for their approach.”

Open Textbooks

Earlier this year, CapU reported a new open textbook adoption of Introduction to Psychology – 1st Canadian Edition. Douglas Alards-Tomalin, psychology instructor at Capilano University, shared, “We have about 20 sections per year, and we will be using OER for each of them. With an estimated 700+ students, we’re anticipating that adopting and adapting this open textbook will create savings of over $88,000 per year for students in this program. Moving forward, we’re hoping to have at least one OER in each year of study, and we are choosing the materials based on the best fit and widest reach.”

“Another opportunity for OER to provide substantial value is with truth and reconciliation for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis,” shared Douglas. “Most standard textbooks are ill-equipped on this issue, and with open textbooks and other OER, instructors can adapt the materials to more adequately meet the goals of reconciliation.” 

Open Education Grants

With financial support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, BCcampus currently has a pair of funding opportunities available to post-secondary institutions in B.C. looking to start — or restart — their open education program, or to continue an existing program. These grants will help us continue to advance the province’s vision for open and affordable education.

Three foundation grants of $16,125 each will be awarded to one post-secondary institution in each of the following regions:

  • Northern B.C.
  • Interior of B.C.
  • Lower Mainland of B.C. or on Vancouver Island

There are also two sustainability grants of $32,250 each, available to British Columbia post-secondary institutions.

An important distinction for each of the grant programs is that they are for the institution, not individual educators, and require matching funds from the institution.

Notable quotes:

“Ten years ago, the argument that open textbooks didn’t have the same level of quality as the commercial textbooks might have made sense, but it doesn’t today. With the inclusion of Pressbooks and the collaborative efforts of multiple educators, you can mix and match the materials to deliver exactly what you want in your classroom.”

Laura MacKay, Director, Centre for Teaching Excellence, Capilano University

“Non-disposable, experiential-driven course work is the future. It will take effort to get faculty on board, but the learning outcomes will last much longer.”

Douglas Alards-Tomalin, psychology instructor at Capilano University

Learn more

Award for Excellence in Open Education: Brad Bell

This April, we are awarding the BCcampus Excellence in Open Education Award to Brad Bell, an adult basic education instructor at the Burns Lake campus of the College of New Caledonia!

Nominated by Carolee Clyne, Open Education Advisor, Regional Representative to the North

Brad has spent the last decade facilitating adult education and upgrading in remote, rural, and First Nations communities across the Lakes District in Northern B.C. His experiences in these locations have had a profound impact on his pedagogy, and BCcampus’ Open Education initiative celebrates the two things he has come to hold most dear when considering rural education: adaptability and access. Here, adaptability is meant in the sense that the course materials are open — in every sense that matters — and therefore can be adapted and retrofitted to suit the needs of students and instructors, regardless of where they are living and working.

Brad Bell

Brad knows that others are (rightly) excited about the fact that these materials are digital and downloadable for both students and instructors, and that the materials can easily be adopted for online course delivery, but these materials have been especially useful in the rural communities with spotty internet access where he teaches. An online resource that is good for communities with limited to no internet access sounds counterintuitive at first, but BCcampus’ online resources offer important advantages. In order to provide learning opportunities over such a large geographical area with very prominent —sometimes debilitating — socioeconomic issues (e.g., lack of reliable transportation, lack of safe, affordable childcare and eldercare, unstable employment, food insecurity), much of the coursework only functions if the student is in charge of how and when they can work on their courses. 

Until recently, providing upgrading courses at multiple outreach sites meant that the inside of Brad’s car looked more like an office storage room than anything else. He facilitated several core courses, as well as multiple electives, and therefore had to transport copies of every textbook, novel, course packet, and supplementary resource that may be needed during an outreach session. Now all he needs to carry with him when he reaches out to different communities is a flash drive with BCcampus’ open educational resources stored on it, and maybe a couple of novels. As BCcampus’ resources are not restricted by conventional copyright terms, Brad can freely print textbook pages and assignments as his students require them. 

At first glance, this may not appear to be earth-shattering, but for many of Brad’s students, it is. Textbook costs have always been a barrier for some of his students, and only so many class copies of any given text can be stocked. Over the last year, Brad has seen the cost of registration fees prohibit potential students from enrolling in the upgrading courses they need in order to work towards their goals. For those students who can afford registration fees, but not the textbook fees (which can sometimes be even higher), the open textbooks distributed through BCcampus Open Education have been the deciding factor for some students who otherwise couldn’t enroll. To put it yet another way, without the arrival of these open textbooks, fewer students would be able to access upgrading programs. BCcampus’ open textbooks have created a space where Brad can provide his students with copies of the materials they need to be successful, and in whatever format they need.

Brad would like to thank all those individuals who have committed their time and energy to helping BCcampus Open Education become not only a reality, but an adaptable and expanding entity. He is grateful to have a repository of resources for those who believe in making quality education available in rural and remote communities in ways that meet those communities’ needs while adapting to the challenges students face on a daily basis. Brad knows he is not the only one doing this kind of work: for those who strive, like he and his colleagues, to bring education to remote communities, he hopes that his story addresses some of the same issues faced by others, as well as offers some creative solutions, like all instructors strive to develop in these ever shifting and intricate delivery circumstances.

Notable quote

“I nominated Brad Bell from College of New Caledonia, Burns Lake campus, because of his genuine concern for his students and his recognition of the value of open educational resources (OER). Brad identified OER as important tools to help supply his students with materials unencumbered by copyright and financial burdens. In a recent visit to the campus, he noted some of his students do not have devices to use at home, so the flexibility of open resources to be printed, copied, and reused without violating copyright or incurring heavy financial burden makes OER a great tool in his toolkit. Rural communities often do not have the connectivity of urban centres, yet can also benefit from some features of OER. Brad’s role as an educator in a rural setting provides unique challenges, as online access is often unavailable in areas far from the main highway. Navigating these challenges and enabling learning for his students through the use of OER demonstrates his engagement as an educator.”

– Carolee Clyne, Open Education Advisor, Regional Representative to the North

Previous honourees

Jennifer Kirkey, Rajiv JhangianiCindy UnderhillMichael PaskeviciusMaja KrzicGrant PotterIrwin DeVriesTara RobertsonChristina HendricksTannis MorganInba KehoeDiane PurveyErin Fields, Arley CruthersChad Flinn, Aran ArmutluTerry BergWill EngleFlorence DaddeyBrenda SmithLindsay Tripp, and Mary Shier

Indigenization Guide: The Indian Act

An excerpt from Pulling Together: Foundations Guide by Kory Wilson

Indian Act, 1876

The most important single act affecting First Nations is the Indian Act, passed by the federal government of the new Dominion of Canada in 1876 and still in existence today. The Indian Act was another attempt to assimilate First Nations people into Canadian society as quickly as possible. Under section 91(24) of the British North America Act (1867), the federal government was given jurisdiction or control over “Indians and Lands reserved for Indians,” providing exclusive authority over Indian affairs. You can read the complete Indian Act online.[1]

Who is an “Indian”?

In the Indian Act, the Government of Canada defines who is an “Indian.” If the government defines you as an “Indian,” you are said to have “Status.” For this reason, “Indian” is a legal word, but not one that many Indigenous people are comfortable using to describe themselves.

Not all people who identify as First Nations are Status Indian under the Indian Act. Over time there have been many different laws defining who is and who is not eligible for status. Defining who is and who is not an “Indian” is challenging and complicated. “Indians” are the only group of people where the Government of Canada decides who belongs and who does not.

Status and non-Status

Historically, the Indian Act applied only to Indigenous Peoples that the Crown recognized as “Indians.” It excluded Métis and Inuit, and created a group of people who were not entitled to Indian status, referred to as “non-Status Indians.” “Status” determines who the government considers to be entitled to rights that apply to some, but not all, First Nation Peoples in Canada, including:

  • the granting of reserves and the rights associated with them
  • an extended hunting season
  • a less restricted right to bear arms
  • some medical coverage
  • more freedom in the management of gaming and tobacco


The Indian Act made enfranchisement legally compulsory. Under the Indian Act from 1876 until 1955, Status Indians would lose their legal and ancestral identities (or Indian Status) for a variety of reasons, especially if they were women. Enfranchisement was offered to men (although if they were married, their wives and children would be considered enfranchised too).

Until as recently as 1982, the legal status of First Nations women was affected by who they married. First Nation women with Status lost their Indian Status when they married a non-Status man. First Nations women also lost their Indian Status when they married Métis or non-Indigenous men. All the children in these marriages would not be entitled to Indian Status.

Women also lost their status if their husbands died or abandoned them, in which case the woman would:

  • lose the right to live on reserve land and have access to band resources,
  • not necessarily become a member of her previous band again,
  • be involuntarily enfranchised, losing her legal Indian status rights; her children
    could also be involuntarily enfranchised as a result.

Further discrimination against women

Under the Indian Act, First Nations women were also banned from voting and running in Chief and Council elections. The oppression of First Nations women under the Indian Act resulted in long-term poverty, marginalization and violence, which they are still trying to overcome today.

Inuit and Métis women were also oppressed and discriminated against, and prevented from:

  • serving in the Canadian armed forces
  • getting a college or university degree
  • leaving their communities for long periods (e.g., for employment)
  • becoming an ordained minister
  • becoming a professional (e.g., a doctor or lawyer)

Impacts of the Indian Act: A timeline

Over the years, the Indian Act has legislated extreme changes in the lives of Indigenous Peoples. The timeline below provides some examples.


Federal government assumes responsibility for all “Indians and lands reserved for Indians”

Canada became a country with the passing of the British North America Act. In Section 91(24) the federal government (Canadian government) was assigned responsibility for all “Indians and lands reserved for Indians.”


Indian Act becomes law

The Indian Act became law, and Indigenous governance systems were replaced with elected or appointed Band Councils. Women were not allowed to participate.


Residential schools become official policy

Residential schools became the official government policy for educating First Nations children.  Residential schools forcibly removed First Nations children from their families and communities to attend distant schools, where many died and many more suffered abuse.


Ceremonies banned

The Indian Act banned ceremonies such as the potlatch, ghost dance, and sun dance. People were arrested for performing them and their ceremonial materials were taken away by the government. The effects of this prohibition are still felt today.


Reserve land taken from bands without consent

The government could take reserve land from bands without their consent and (between 1918 and 1951) could also lease reserve land to settlers without the band’s agreement.


Traditional and ceremonial clothing banned

It was illegal for Indigenous Peoples to wear their traditional and ceremonial clothing.


Status Indians barred from seeking legal advice, fundraising, or meeting in groups

It was illegal for Status Indians to hire lawyers or seek legal advice, fundraise for land claims, or meet in groups. Many had to stop organizing, but others continued to do so secretly to fight for their rights.


Political organizing and cultural activities legalized

It was no longer illegal for Indigenous Peoples to organize politically to fight for their rights. And performing cultural activities was no longer illegal.


First Nations people no longer forced to give up their “status”

It was no longer possible for the government to force people to give up their “Indian status” and lose their Indigenous rights. In the past, First Nations people could lose their Indian status through marriage, for example. And before 1960, a person had to give up his or her Indian status in order to vote federally.

An interactive version of the above timeline can be found here.

Amendments to the Indian Act

The problem is we, as Indigenous peoples, have not been dealt with fairly, and also the governments have not dealt with the Indigenous issues the way we would like them to have.

– Elijah Harper (1949–2013; Oji-Cree; Canadian politician, first Treaty Indian elected as a provincial politician, Chief of the Red Sucker Lake community, recipient of the Order of Manitoba and the Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award, and a key player in the rejection of the Meech Lake Accord)


Amendments to the Indian Act in 1951 made it no longer illegal for First Nations people to:

  • gather in groups of more than three
  • leave the reserve without a pass
  • hire a lawyer
  • own property
  • practise their culture

But many of the more harmful provisions still remained, including:

  • the definition of who is an “Indian”
  • the reserve system
  • residential school policies
  • an imposed system of government

As of 2017, all of these provisions still remain, except residential schools.


In 1985, Bill C-31 was passed, amending the Indian Act to bring it into line with gender equality under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There were three major goals:

  • to address gender discrimination in the Indian Act
  • to restore Indian status to those who had been forcibly enfranchised
  • to allow First Nations to control their own membership as a step toward self-government

The Indian Act today

The Indian Act is still in force, which is a major reason why the use of the offensive term “Indian” persists today. Note: The Indian Act uses the terms “Indian” and “White” as these were the terms used at the time. These are not terms that you should use in your conversations.

  1. Indian Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. I-5): 

Learn more:

Improving Access to Open Resources

Many of the post-secondary institutions in remote areas of the province lack the resources to create or sustain open education initiatives for their students, so BCcampus has created a pair of open education grants to improve access.

Post by BCcampus’ editorial team

Last fall, we welcomed a pair of regional representatives to BCcampus to help us build stronger connections and improve access to open education at the post-secondary institutions (PSIs) in B.C.’s northern and interior communities. Ross McKerlich is working with the institutions in the B.C. Interior, and Carolee Clyne is connecting the North.

Planning on a Smaller Scale

The regional representatives are helping us understand some of the difficulties that smaller institutions face.

“Where institutions in Vancouver or Victoria might have a team of twenty people working on an open education project,” explained Carolee, “for some of the institutions in northern B.C., it’s not unusual to find one person responsible for multiple roles, with available resources typically spread quite thin. Many of the northern institutions don’t have the numbers to justify a department specifically for open education.” 

“Ross’s and Carolee’s perspectives allow us to see some of the challenges faced by rural institutions, which led to the idea of developing open education grants for different regions of the province,” shared Lauri Aesoph, manager of Open Education at BCcampus.

Levelling the Playing Field

To improve access to open education opportunities for all PSIs throughout the province, we developed a pair of open education grants with financial support from the Hewlett Foundation: a foundation grant to start — or restart — an open education initiative, and a sustainability grant to help an existing open education program thrive and grow.

“We recognize that some teams haven’t had the same level of success, or lacked the resources to create a foundation of open education,” shared Lauri, “so these grants are intended to help them create the tools they need to make use of the wealth of open educational resources available through BCcampus and other channels.”

“These grants will help create flexibility within the institutional culture,” said Ross. “The funds can be used to hire a part-time assistant or two to provide the educator the bandwidth they need to focus on implementing open education opportunities or revisiting their previous open education strategy.” 

Accessing Opportunities

BCcampus has adapted an open education practice tool: a 20-question yes or no worksheet, to help institutions start the conversation about open education.

The worksheet is a great resource to help all levels of an institution assess where they are on their open education plans and identify needs that they weren’t aware of. The two new grants are available to all PSIs in British Columbia. An important distinction between these grants and previous offerings is that these are for the institution itself. 

“The institutions can use the funds to develop their open education offerings, connecting them with future grant possibilities and providing access to substantial OER,” explained Ross. 

The sustainability grant is designed for institutions looking to improve the operational model of their current open educational practices, and the foundational grant is designed to help institutions launch or relaunch their open educational practices, resources, support, or training on their campuses. 

Either grant may lead to improved:

  • Awareness building
  • Helpdesk support specific to open education
  • Open education working groups
  • Open educational practices (OEP)
  • Open pedagogy
  • Open policy
  • Open publishing support or services for new creations or adaptations
  • Pressbooks support and training
  • Workshops for instructors on how to use or adopt OER

There are three foundation grants available: one for the North, one for the Interior, and one for the Lower Mainland/Vancouver Island. The provided funding must be matched by the awarded institution. The sustainability grant is available to any post-secondary institution in the province. Any resources created as a result of this funding will be shared under an open license so everyone in our system can benefit. 

Visit the BCcampus Grants and Calls for Proposals page to stay current on opportunities for your institution. 

Notable Quote

“These grants create opportunities for institutions to wade into the world of open, allowing them to continue to support and encourage faculty as they explore the full scope of open pedagogy and the open educational resources available.”

—Carolee Clyne, Open Education Adviser, Regional Representative, BCcampus

Learn More

In the North, open educational resources are being discovered

From supporting the administrative side of institutions to building new programs based on open educational resources (OER), the North is looking to embrace Open. 

Post by Carolee Clyne, Open Education Advisor, Regional Representative, BCcampus

Coast Mountain College is developing a cohort of trades faculty to learn about and explore open educational resources and how they can adopt and adapt resources to meet their students’ needs. The idea was kicked off with a successful trades OER day. Coast Mountain College has also introduced an incentive program through their library. Their energy and focus are enabling a strong uptake in OER. 

Easing the financial burden is paramount to success for students seeking to upgrade and get ahead. Brad Bell, instructor at College of New Caledonia Burns Lake campus, uses the Adult Literacy Fundamental English books to empower his students. Often, online access is impaired in rural areas, and the multiple formats of these books help to provide solutions that fit everyone. In a new curriculum development project launched by the College of New Caledonia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, open textbooks became the first choice for updating courses at the institution that are aimed at reducing barriers and improving accessibility for all students.

At the University of Northern British Columbia, Student Services is using the Pulling Together: A Guide for Indigenization of Post-Secondary Institutions books to develop guidelines for their leaders and front-line staff. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this without them,” said Amelia Kaiser, Director of Student Services at the University of Northern British Columbia, “because we wouldn’t have had the capacity to develop something [like the Guides] on our own.”

In the northeastern part of the province, at Northern Lights College, the Power program to be launched in September is completely based on OER to help reduce the financial burden on students and increase accessibility for all. This program arms students with the skills necessary for college or a workplace apprenticeship. New programs at Northern Lights College are being built on OER to ensure that students can access the material necessary for success.

As the success stories emerge, the North continues to embrace Open.

Learn more

BCcampus Open Education Working Group Guide: Running a Working Group

An excerpt from the Working Group Guide, by Krista Lambert and Lucas Wright.

Regardless of where your open working group may fall on the spectrum of formal to informal, there are certain things to consider doing and places you can look for support.

Keep a record

Kick off your committee by establishing a shared digital place where agendas, minutes, best practices, and other documents can reside. Avoid documents becoming orphaned in individual emails.

Inventory the different ways to communicate with your community at your institution and establish when, how, and what you will communicate out from your group. One approach that has been taken by a number of open working groups is to consider an open way to document and keep a record. At the University of British Columbia, the UBC Wiki (MediaWiki) is used for sharing all agendas, activities, and members in the open. You may want to look at the Open Ed Tech Collaborative apps available via Sandstorm for collaborative editing tools that will allow you to share and edit documents.

Find administrative support

Booking meetings, finding rooms, sending out agendas, and other administrative tasks can make or break a group’s functionality if not done. Is there a dean or administrator on your committee that is able to offer administrative support? Who is writing announcements? Where are you sending them? Who has booked the room, ordered the coffee?

Set up communication and marketing

It never hurts to look good! Are there channels at your institution that will offer you marketing and promotional advice? Are there logos and creative designs already available in the open marketplace that can help you with banners and graphics? Are there institutions that can share open marketing ideas?

Think about a digital or web presence as early as you can. Check the Open Education Week website or the Open Access Week Graphics for promotional materials.

Provide professional development for members

Depending on the composition and background of your open working group members, different professional development opportunities will be useful for sustaining the group. Think about training on the different technologies offered to sustain open at your institution. Look at conferences related to open subjects, such as the Open Textbook Summit. Other professional developmentopportunities may include inter-institutional events, development sprints, and workshops (such as on copyright, Creative Commons licences, and open pedagogy).

Learn more: