VIU Chosen to Offer National Land Management Training for First Nations

Deb Saucier and Amanda Simon

Indigenous land managers will have access to professional training that was previously only available at institutions in Saskatchewan and Ontario. Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, andAmanda Simon, Chair of the National Aboriginal Lands Management Association, sign a memorandum of understanding.

October 22, 2019 - 11:00am

University will begin offering the Professional Indigenous Lands Management Certificate program in summer 2020.


Behind every sustainable, thriving community is the guiding hand of a land manager tasked with balancing the needs of the people who live there with what needs to be done to ensure resources are protected for future generations.

Thanks to the expertise of Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Master of Community Planning (MCP) program and the University’s extensive relationships with First Nations communities, Indigenous land managers will have access to professional training that was previously only available in Saskatchewan and Ontario.

The National Aboriginal Lands Managers Association (NALMA) has chosen VIU to deliver the first level of the Professional Lands Management Certification Program (PLMCP). The program ensures Indigenous land managers gain knowledge, stay current in the field and adhere to a professional code of ethics. Final delivery of the program is subject to approval by VIU's Senate and the Board of Governors.

VIU is the third institution selected to offer this training: the University of Saskatchewan and Algoma University in Ontario also deliver Level One training. Level Two is delivered by NALMA.

“We are honoured to be selected to offer this training for Indigenous land managers in Western Canada,” says Dr. Pam Shaw, Director of the MCP program. “This will allow planners from Indigenous communities to study locally and work with organizations in the region that may be facing similar land use and planning challenges.”

The program is administered through NALMA and funded by Indigenous Services Canada.

“NALMA is very excited to be partnering with VIU and to offer another option for students in our Professional Lands Management Certification Program,” says Amanda Simon, NALMA Board Chair. “VIU has strong existing relationships with Indigenous nations on Vancouver Island, which we will build upon in the development of our shared programming by reaching out to First Nations across Canada. We look forward to welcoming the first cohort of learners next year!”

Starting in summer 2020, VIU will deliver the basics of Indigenous land management over six courses – five in-person courses taken at the Nanaimo campus and one online major project class. Each on-campus course has a field trip/day component to a local First Nation on Vancouver Island, where students will meet the community and their planning teams to learn, discuss and help resolve real-life lands issues. Local Indigenous planners and land-use managers will also be invited to contribute to the program as instructors and guest speakers.

“This program will open up new possibilities for collaborations between students and employees and communities,” says Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor. “This will give us a chance to deepen current relationships and explore new partnerships.”

The program will cover basics in resource management, community design, sustainable practices and Indigenous lands planning.

“Indigenous land managers face a complex array of issues in their day-to-day jobs, ranging from land-use conflicts, to navigating environmental regulations,” says Graham Sakaki, Research and Community Engagement Coordinator with VIU’s Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve Research Institute. “They also play a larger role in land stewardship and resource management than planners working for a municipality might, and often take a more holistic view of land use.”

Hegus (Chief) Nicole Rempel of the K’omoks First Nation, finished her certification in 2018. She says the program not only broadened her knowledge base on the technical parts of being a land manager, but it also helped her build connections with other communities.

“The people who get this training at VIU are going to build more local connections, which allows for more sharing of policies and collaborations to solve problems,” she says. “And with it being offered here, it will be easier for BC communities to come and do the training.”

After completing the VIU courses, students receive a stand-alone certificate in Professional Indigenous Lands Management and can apply to complete Level Two and receive their full PLMCP certification. Shaw says students can also apply any credits earned to an undergraduate degree.  




Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Advisor, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Community Engagement | Master of Community Planning | Teaching and Learning

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