By Managing Editor Molly Barrieau

A one-time funding decision from the Ministry of Advanced Education has allowed VIU to offer the Community Health Promotion for Aboriginal Communities Certificate at around $3K instead of $6K.

The program was created in part due to the concerns raised from the Island’s First Nations communities, where healthcare can be hard to come by.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell told VIU, “Our government is listening to the healthcare challenges Aboriginal communities want to address and that’s why we have targeted funding of $83,000 towards this health program offered at VIU.”

The year-long program offers students the “skills to assess community and client health education needs”, and roles such as: “Aboriginal Health Liaison Worker; Community Health Representative; Community Engagement Facilitator; Aboriginal Health Coordinator,” according to VIU.

The program, which is mostly online, is developed in collaboration with the Inter Tribal Health Authority (ITHA) according to the overview page on VIU’s website. Running from September 2016 to June 2017, up to 25 students can enroll in this year’s program. The nature of the certificate allows for many students around the province to attend the courses and meetings while working at an off-campus job.