A global grant and a partnership between Rotary clubs in two different countries have led to an international project to establish a modern education and training facility at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre – a project that also provided education to the donors.
The Buckhead Rotary Club in Atlanta approached the Oak Bay Rotary Club to do an international project together. After much discussion around different possibilities, it was decided to work with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC).
The VNFC provides cultural, educational, social services, programs and support to First Nations, immigrants, and those in need. The Rotary project is providing funding to establish a Computer Learning Centre to increase capacity for the delivery of literacy, economic and entrepreneurial incubator programs and employment services.
“This is very exciting and it’s unusual. Most international projects wind up overseas,” said Lorna Curtis, who is on the grant writing committee for the Oak Bay Rotary Club. “I think it is exciting that Rotary International is funding something locally.”
The Buckhead Rotary Club came to Victoria at the beginning of October to get a tour of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, spending 90 minutes with VNFC Executive Director Ron Rice. The discussion during the tour ranged from the residential school system to the controversy around the removal of the Sir John A. McDonald statue to the Truth and Reconciliation Report and institutional racism.
“The Atlanta group had some interesting perspectives and a lot of questions. B.C. is a bit further along in terms of actions and awareness resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Rice said. “The tour and discussion were eye-opening for them and they were eager to learn more.”
Rice stressed to the group that while the Centre is grateful for the generous gift, they are equally interested in the relationships that go with it.
“Sometimes the things we need are not money,” Rice said. An eagerness to build those relationships was expressed by all.
VNFC will use the funds to take the shell of a portable and make it into a functional wheelchair-accessible classroom space, with 14 computers and wired for internet.
The Buckhead Rotary Club and their district contributed $18,000 to the project, the Oak Bay Rotary Club contributed $5,000, the local district and Rotary Foundation added the global grant monies and the Downtown Victoria Rotary Club and Rotaract contributed as well. The $54,900 (US) project should be completed this Rotary year.
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