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Never too late to start something new

Joseph Campbell embodies the adage that it is never too late to pursue your dreams. A student of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, Joseph has been a self-taught artist for more than 50 years. The formal training he desired eluded him until last year when he decided to try one more time to make his dream come true.

Watching his father Sylvester and brother Danny carve when he was home for holidays from residential school inspired his passion for art. He learned a lot from his family, and over the years established his skills, selling his work door-to-door and through the Lattimer Gallery in Vancouver, while working a full time job.

In the early 1970s he recalls seeing an advertisement for the Kitanmax School of Northwest Coast Art in Hazelton BC and wanted to go. However, his job as Truck Driver with the City of Vancouver kept him in the lower mainland. He asked every superintendent he had over the years for a work leave to attend school and was turned down every time. That didn’t keep him from continuing to work on his passion. He went to work for 8 hours a day and would come home to carve until midnight, sometimes pulling all-nighters, creating panels, plaques and talking sticks.

After his retirement in 2005, and with the encouragement from fellow artist Art Thompson, Joseph was able to take the Arts program at the Capilano College where he learned to work with various mediums including bronze, cement, plastic and glass. This training was intended to begin his apprenticeship with Art Thompson, but it ended before it began as Art sadly became ill and succumbed to cancer. “He gave me the light to keep trying to pursue art,” says Joseph, who continued to learn and master different forms of his craft. During this period in his life Joseph was introduced to and learned from master bentwood box carver Larry Rosso. Joseph began to dedicate his time to creating and perfecting bentwood boxes, which are now in high demand at the Coastal People’s Fine Arts Gallery.

Joseph will be graduating with his Fine Arts Diploma from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art May 2018. He says it is hard to be away from his family, but he has stayed focused and is finding inspiration everywhere. He worked hard to get here and he’s making the most of every moment.

Joseph is passionate about resurrecting traditional artwork and is passing on his skills to his grand children. “We are trying to bring our culture back,” he says, “there are lots of place to learn and work and I encourage young people to find those resources.” It hasn’t been easy to be separated from his family, but Joseph has stayed focused and is looking forward to his graduation this year.

Joseph’s story is one of perseverance and dedication to pursuing his passion and he has been enjoying every minute of his journey to Terrace to study with artists who have inspired him. “Frustration and imagination will help you get through things,” he says, “Never give up, follow your dreams and have fun with whatever you do, you learn faster.” 


To see some of Joseph's work visit the Coastal People's gallery here:

NWCC Alum holding key positions in Trades renovation

NWCC Alum holding key positions in Trades renovation

July 7, 2017

A large construction project is currently underway in Terrace, BC and it happens to be in NWCC’s backyard. The trades building renovation officially broke ground in March of 2017. The majority of the building has been gutted and the front entrance is completely demolished.

It is a project that will serve two purposes. The first is to improve the integrity of the 40 year-old building with structural upgrades. Second is to provide an improved student experience by transforming the front of the building into a two-storey commons area with added study space and technological impovements.

From the beginning, NWCC has included the community in this project. It is important local contractors, businesses and even former students are involved.

“As a publicly funded training institution, a critical requirement of the project is the local hiring of contractors; particularly current and former students,” said Kerry Clarke, NWCC Director of Facilities and Ancillary Services. “Prospective companies bidding on various parts of the project were required to detail their local hiring strategy.”

As a result, NWCC has already hired eight alumni. Among them are Linnea Waechter and Landen Archibald.

Linnea has completed two programs at NWCC. In 2012 she began her electrical training and is now a Red Seal certified electrician. She also enrolled in the Business Administration program in 2016. With these two backgrounds she was the perfect candidate for Project Administrator.

“It’s a blend of two core skills gained through my education,” said Linnea. “While I am new to administration, there are a lot of questions concerning construction (jargon, technical aspects, etc.) that I don’t need to ask because I have first-hand experience.”

This isn’t Linnea’s first time working at the College. In 2016 she worked for Houle Electric installing a new distribution system.

“It’s great that I don’t have to move away for work,” said Linnea. “As an electrician, it seemed inevitable that I would have to go away to work in camp. This feels like a rare opportunity to stay close to home and build something important to both myself and my community.”

Site Superintendent Landen Archibald came to NWCC in 2009 to start his carpentry training. He went on to finish all his apprenticeship levels at NWCC and is now Red Seal certified.

Working close to home is something Landen cherishes as well.

“This opportunity to build something nice for the community and be so close to home is pretty rare and worth a lot to me,” said Landen. “My kids will be coming through this college in the near future and it’s comforting to know they will have such great facility to train in.”

The project is broken down into separate phases so that it will be usable throughout the renovation. The new building is anticipated to be complete by Fall 2018. 

Adventurous education brings Vancouver native to the north

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau


Northwest Community College 2017 Valedictorian (Terrace campus), Gabriel Garcia, began his educational journey with NWCC in 2012 when he moved from Vancouver to Smithers.

Prior to that, he, his wife and two sons spent a number of years living in Mexico. Gabriel left his wife and children behind for four months while he tried to get a job in Vancouver. Unfortunately he found that without a post-secondary education, he was unable to gain employment.

“I reached out to my mom to ask if she knew of anything up in the north [where she was living],” said Gabriel. “Once [my mom] told me about the Workforce Exploration Skills Training (WEST) program, I discussed it with my wife and applied. When I was accepted, I flew my family up and they stayed with my mom in Smithers while I completed my schooling.”

After graduating from WEST, Gabriel moved to Terrace and found a job working in forestry, which inspired him to further pursue his dream of having a meaningful environmental career. That’s when he found NWCC’s Environmental Geosciences program. It was the perfect fit.

“I grew up on Burnaby Mountain surrounded by forest,” said Gabriel. “I grew up playing in the woods, the mountains, lakes and oceans. It’s part of who I am; I'm connected to it. I'm miserable when I'm away from it.”

Gabriel enrolled in many of NWCC’s Field Schools including the Kitsumkalum and Stewart Telegraph Creek Field Schools in 2016. He most recently took part in the Skeena Watershed Ecosystems. This two-week outdoor intensive course examined environmental factors that determined the distribution and function of local ecosystems. It took Gabriel to places like Dasque Creek, the Kalum Valley, Forceman Ridge and the Kitimat Estuary.

“You can’t get an experience like this [in the lower mainland],” said Gabriel. “You get hammered over the head in nothing but theory and walk out into the world with minimal field experience. Here, you have a chance to see what its really like out there.”

He went on to say, “This program has cemented the understanding of how nature functions and has opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I actually have a job waiting for me as soon as I’m finished this course.”

That ‘job’ is a great career opportunity with a local environmental consulting agency. Coincidentally, one of his first assignments will take him back to Dasque Creek to work on environmental assessments of their fisheries and vegetation.

As previously mentioned, Gabriel was also nominated this year’s Valedictorian. NWCC Instructor, Gordon Weary mentored Gabriel through much of his studies and was one of the faculty members who nominated him for this distinction.

“I can say without hesitation that Gabriel is one of the most remarkable individuals I have met in my 17 years at the college,” said Gordon. “When I was asked about a recommendation for a Valedictorian, Gabriel was the obvious choice. His words were strong and meaningful and had something for everyone in the audience. It is students like Gabriel who motivate instructors, teachers and professors, to keep doing what they do.”

Gabriel received his Associate of Science Degree specializing in Environmental Geosciences on June 1, 2017, after attending NWCC part-time over the past three years.

For more information about our Field Schools click here:

For more information about the Environmental Geosciences program click here:


Entrepreneurial spirit inspires higher education

Madison Greening was fresh out of high school when she took over janitorial contracts from someone who retired. Starting her own cleaning business prompted Madison to pursue a Business Administration Diploma at NWCC. Running a business allows her to balance studies with work and help pay for her tuition. The flexibility of online courses also helps Madison complete the courses she needs.

Madison admittedly didn’t like school when she was growing up, but has learned that college is a different experience. “You get to study things that interest you and it gets you thinking about what you want to do,” says Madison. “I am in the Business Administration program because I feel it will open more doors for me in the future.”

The time management skills Madison has developed at NWCC have helped with her business endeavours and the courses are relevant for any setting. “The Business Administration program is versatile and can transfer to any industry,” says Madison, “I especially found business communications can apply to any job, including the work I do.”

Madison hasn’t made any definitive decisions for her future after college but the opportunities are endless. With the skills she is learning at NWCC Madison will have a solid base for whatever it is she decides to pursue. 

Posting positivity

January 13, 2017

Do you know Kimberley Wilson? The name may not ring any bells, but if you are a woman attending class on the Terrace campus, you’ve likely seen her work.


Kimberley is a first year college and career preparation student who is behind the prominent sticky note project that has taken over the women’s washrooms since September.


Each of the colourful notes has a positive and uplifting message written on it. With overarching themes of encouragement, self-confidence and triumph, they aim to help readers get through life’s difficulties.


Statements like: ‘you can do this;’ ‘you are so important;’ and ‘you are beautiful;’ have brought positivity into the lives of staff, faculty and students. Up until recently no one knew who was behind the movement.


Accessibility services coordinator, Kezia Sinkewicz wanted to change that. She sought out, the then anonymous, Kimberley to recognize her efforts.


“I heard it was brightening many people’s day and when I found out who was creating the buzz, I wasn't surprised,” said Kezia. “Kimberley is a very sincere, kind and upbeat student who deserves to be recognized; especially because she wasn't doing it for the recognition.”


Kimberley began this project in April 2016 while attending Caledonia Senior Secondary School in Terrace. She was inspired by an email she received for a scholarship application that required applicants to complete a good will styled task; the sticky note project being one of them. Though she never applied for the scholarship, Kimberley thought it was a great idea.


“Most of [the notes] I come up with by myself, but for some of them I get inspiration from the internet, posters or quotes,” said Kimberley, who shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. “I did it every single day at Caledonia and I do it every single day here.”


Kimberley is attending NWCC to upgrade her math and has big dreams for her future. She plans to complete her degree locally and thanks to NWCC’s transfer agreements, she is able to do just that. Kimberley plans to do her first two years at NWCC and from there, go on to attain her Bachelor’s of Education from UNBC in Terrace.


“Being a teacher has been my dream since I was 11 years old. I also wanted to be a superhero, which I kind of feel like with this project,” said Kimberley. “I’ve always considered teachers to be [superheroes too].”


When asked why she believes it’s important to do initiatives like this, Kimberley recalled a very rewarding moment.


She walked into the women’s washroom and discovered a response on a post she had written. The original note said, “Feel your heart beat. That is your purpose,” to which the woman replied, “Thank you, I was going to give up today.”


It is reactions like this, which signal to Kimberley that she is doing something right.  She finds so much joy with the project that she also does it at her part-time job and is certain it will be something she continues as a teacher and beyond.


Thank you Kimberley, for adding such value to the NWCC community.

NWCC Alum proves learning is for life.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ronald E. Osborn

Northwest Community College alumna, Jennifer Maillet has been living proof of this quote since graduating with her Practical Nursing (LPN) diploma in 2002. The Terrace resident has found a passion for learning and realizes that education is an important part of growth. She has spent ample time doing that at NWCC.

Much of Jennifer’s adult life has been engaged in post-secondary education. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be active in the community and chose programs to reflect that.

After acquiring her LPN and having her second child, Jennifer realized shift work was not going to be ideal. She wanted to spend time with her child and shift work was not conducive to raising a family. Jennifer opted to open a daycare to support her family, while also serving the community.

She created Willow Creek Daycare in 2005. It has since grown to become Willow Creek Childcare Centre, Terrace’s largest childcare provider, with 144 spaces.

In 2012 Jennifer began taking courses to obtain an Associate Degree, specializing in Criminology, at NWCC.

“I was drawn to criminology out of interest to see if there was some link between childhood, adolescent, and adults,” said Jennifer. “I wanted to learn [if there was] someway to impact people before their criminal lives started.”

In 2014, Jennifer put her Associate Degree on hold to enrol at the University of Northern British Columbia for her Master of Business Administration (MBA). After graduating, she has now decided to finish her Associate Degree at NWCC.

While completing her MBA, Jennifer managed to open a second business, providing the community with a local option for private nursing and homecare, while also working as a community coroner.

“I never thought being a coroner would be in my job description,” said Jennifer, whose interest deepened after taking psychology and criminology courses at NWCC. “I want to help families understand how and why their loved one died. It allows me to be part of the bigger picture to help prevent similar deaths in the future.”

When asked about the contrast between being a coroner, health and childcare provider, Jennifer said all three positions are similar in her eyes.

“I have a deep desire to impact our community and help people. I am able to do this in all three jobs, where I believe I can make a difference and impact people’s lives.”

In closing, Jennifer reminisced about her time spent at NWCC.

“With the support of NWCC and its professors I realized my potential and felt supported,” she said. “I wouldn't be where I am today without people like Michael Brandt, Sheree Ronaasen, Chris Gee, and Dr. Altar. I am forever grateful.”


Cooking for a Cause

Northwest Community College student Jeannie Campbell is enrolled in the Professional Cook Level 1 (PC1) Apprenticeship program. Originally from Gitanmaax of Hazelton, Jeannie was raised in Prince Rupert, but has been living in Kitwanga for the past 32 years with her husband and children. In 2009 she achieved her certificate in NWCC’s Business Administration (BADM), but decided to return this year to pursue her passion in the food industry; but not without the encouragement of her family, especially her daughter Sabrina, who is also enrolled in her second year of the Professional Cook program and has completed her BADM.

“First I took BADM then Sabrina copied me, then she took PC and now I’m copying her,” laughs Jeannie, who wasn’t even sure she was going to secure a spot, “…it was a fluke I made it in; someone dropped-out and I was asked to join one week late.”

Recently NWCC Professional Cook students put their skills to good use when they travelled to K’San Place in Terrace. Students helped serve up a nourishing lunch of soups, sandwiches and wraps to those in need. Since 1979, K’San Society has been providing unique social services to the Terrace community such as programming, safe shelter, food and essentials to the homeless, disadvantaged and women and children fleeing abusive circumstances.

Peggy Julseth, a Coordinator for K’San Place said the event was a success, “Wow! What a great lunch! Our final count was 57, once latecomers were fed. Even after… we had several people come to the kitchen door, so we fed them too.”

Jeannie was one of the students who participated in the event and is no stranger to volunteering. She spends much of her free time giving back to two non-profit organizations; one helps gather Christmas presents for children and the elderly, and the other fundraises for Elders in her community.

“Most of the money we raise [for the non-profits] comes from catering. This is how I became intrigued by the whole food industry,” said Jeannie. “I love to see people eat and enjoy the food [I’ve cooked], it makes me happy when they want seconds.”

Jeannie’s passion for helping others and serving her community was inspired at a young age.

“I believe giving back to the community is important. My mother and grandmother would always say, ‘because you just never know when you might need help and it will be there.’”

Jeannie enjoys cooking for others, especially her family, and with all the opportunities the program provides her, she has registered for the next level of her apprenticeship and will be continuing on to Professional Cook Level 2.

“I enjoy this program. It opens so many more doors for me and I have the opportunity to cook different foods and the challenge of creating a meal that I can’t even pronounce.” She adds, “…especially trying something new, and then cooking it for my family when I go [home] for the weekends.”

Both she and Sabrina intend to complete the entire program with the goal of being accredited with their Red Seals in Professional Cooking.

For more information on the Professional Cook Apprenticeship program please visit:

For more information about K’San Place & the services offered:

Your path to engineering starts at NWCC.

While taking general science courses at Northwest Community College, Ethan Wiebe discovered his passion for physics. Now he is on his way to a career as a Civil Engineer. He came to NWCC after high school to take university credit courses. This prepared him to move to the University of British Columbia (UBC). He eagerly shared his enthusiasm for his area of study and his time at NWCC exclaiming, “I think it’s great, and more students should consider the College.”

At NWCC Ethan discovered he enjoyed solving physics problems and found the labs really interesting. His older brother Nolan is an engineering student, which helped Ethan choose his career path, he jokes, “I’ve always tried one-upping him.”

When asked what about engineering captured his interest Ethan says, “Engineers solve real-world problems with physics. We’re around things engineers have built every day, from roadways to skyscrapers.”

NWCC Physics professor Regan Sibbald says, “Ethan was an excellent student with a bright future.”

Ethan’s family has roots in NWCC. “I expected to come to the College,” he says, “my dad also went to NWCC, so I knew it was a good choice.”

Ethan earned entrance scholarships at NWCC and living at home was affordable which gave him extra time to focus on his studies. “It has definitely contributed to my success,” says Ethan, “it made it easier to adapt to living alone.” “A year at college gave me time to really think,” adds Ethan, “I was planning on going into healthcare, I actually wanted to do less Physics and Math, but being exposed to physics set me on a completely different path.”

Ethan will be heading into his second year at UBC this fall after a summer working in Terrace. As for his future plans he wants to return to the region so he can enjoy a life in the nature he loves.

From NWCC to the nation's capital.

“I began to discover a political interest a very young age,” said Matthew. “My grandfather was always interested in politics so we had lots to talk about and it was a great thing to connect over.”

Now Matthew Simpson finds himself politically active in Ottawa, a city he loves.

“There is a ton of heritage and parliamentary activity so what better place is there to learn about political science in Canada?” he said. “Plus, I have always been an Ottawa Senators fan, so the hockey games are fantastic.”

When he graduated from high school in 2014 he was unsure of where his educational path would lead.

“I didn’t really have great study skills when I was in high school,” said Matthew.  “And I felt intimidated about going to university without a better sense of what I wanted to do with my life.”

In the fall of 2014, Matthew enrolled in first-year university credit courses at NWCC. Where he built a work ethic and study skills, and the campus support network also helped him to discover new opportunities.

“Just talking to an Educational Advisor at NWCC was easier than it is at a huge university,” he said. “I also found the small classroom discussions where I learned a lot about myself and from my classmates.”

Matthew credits his Political Science professor, Dina Von Hahn, with helping him reach his full potential.

“She always told me that I should be confident in my study skills and that they would lead to my success at university and beyond.”

Matthew soon applied his new found work ethic by transferring his first year of studies and attending Carlton University in Ottawa the next academic year.

His major? Political Science. And although it was a big adjustment, Matthew was able to keep up.

“At first, it was hard to attend a lecture hall with over 800 students because the atmosphere was so dry and different from the classes I had taken at NWCC,” he said. “But I had learned a lot about taking notes and keeping up on my reading so that was super helpful.”

Not only has Matthew been a busy university student and hockey fan, but he also volunteers at Skeena-Bulkley Valley Member of Parliament, Nathan Cullen’s office in Ottawa. Experience to expand on the knowledge he’s gaining at the university.

“I have another three semesters to finish, and then I’ll have my political science degree,” said Matthew. “I know that my path will lead to a career in politics and I know that I will return to Terrace as this is, and will always be, my home.”

NWCC looks forward to hearing about Matthew’s continued success as he pursues his passion for politics.

For more information on our university credit program and political science courses, click here.





Part-time studies lead to rewarding careers

Starting a post-secondary education as an adult learner may seem daunting, but many keen students take on this challenge at NWCC and are rewarded with careers that they love.

Greg Mckay went back to school at 35 to upgrade his English, math, and computer skills. In 2009, he completed his upgrading courses through NWCC’s Career & College Preparation program at the Prince Rupert Campus. The next year Greg was accepted to NWCC’s one-of-a-kind Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program. 

Born and raised in Gitxaala, a Tsimshian island community of 500 people, Greg grew up by the ocean, spending lots of time on the beaches and in the local mountains. With his knowledge of this environment, he found himself drawn to the ACE program.

“What I enjoyed the most about NWCC’s Ecology program was the hands-on learning during field labs, like field survey techniques, wildlife identification, and timber cruising methods,” said Greg. “The most challenging part of my studies was the university-level academic courses in technical writing, Chemistry and Biology during second year.”

While he was a student Greg worked and studied part-time and volunteered for minor basketball and soccer. Earning a two-year diploma part-time can stretch the program to more than three years. Greg was determined and in 2013 he graduated with an Applied Coastal Ecology Diploma.

“My instructors were very helpful and knowledgeable,” said Greg. “I had felt supported by the staff my entire time at NWCC in Prince Rupert and I am grateful for their help. But the best supporter I have to thank is my wife,” he said. “My previous work experience and knowledge of living off the land and the sea have also been a big part of my success in the Ecology program.”

Greg was hired as a fisheries technician for the Gitxaala Nation and has been working there for the past five years. He does coastal monitoring and assessment work that involves stream walks, crab surveys, abalone surveys, on-land monitoring and other duties that relate to coastal ecosystems.

“I am very proud to be a part of our Gitxaala Fisheries Program,” said Greg. “Our traditional ways of living off the land are under a lot of pressure from industries, climate change and growing populations. I recommend the Applied Coastal Ecology program to future students because it’s useful to people who want to learn about coastal resources and help keep our seafood, plant life and trees healthy.”

For more information about Career and College Preparation upgrading courses, visit:

Learn about the Applied Coastal Ecology program at: