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Langara: Remembering the past, celebrating the future

Lorraine Graves   Oct-10-2018

A day of fun and festivities kicks off Langara College's Beyond 49 campaign.

Photo courtesy KK Law


Today all that is left of the old King Edward Campus is a low stone wall on the northeast corner of West 12th Ave. and Oak St.

Originally King Edward High School, the building gradually morphed into an adult education centre.

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In the post-war years, the King Edward Campus of Vancouver City College (VCC) was an educational hub for returning service men and women restarting lives interrupted by the Second World War. It was bursting at the seams and showing its age. Bouncing in the gym often brought down parts of the ceiling. The playing field doubled as a helicopter landing pad for next-door neighbour, Vancouver General Hospital. Something more, something newer, something else was needed.

Then, in the early 1970s a new campus was built. Originally known as the Langara site of VCC, it was built on Coast Salish land, bought from the Canadian Pacific Railway. To celebrate the opening, all involved marched from the old King Edward Campus to the new Langara site. The newness and sheer room offered students a better environment in which to learn.

In the intervening years there have been many changes. Today, Langara sees 22,000 students pass through its halls of learning each year. Langara looks to Richmond for one eighth of its students.

Wednesday, Oct 10 sees a new trek albeit a shorter yet still meaningful one.

According to Mark Dawson, public affairs manager for the post-secondary institution, “Today Langara College launches Beyond 49, an 18-month long campaign that marks its 49th year of operations on West 49th Ave. and its 25th anniversary as an independent public college. The campaign is a celebration of Langara's history, an opportunity to recognize and reconnect with Langarans, and aims to raise $2.5 million for student scholarships, bursaries, and college initiatives.”

Dawson says the trek, led by the Coastal Wolfpack drummers from the Musqueam First Nation, saw over 150 students, staff, faculty, alumni, retirees, and local dignitaries walk from Cambie St. and 41st Ave. to the Langara campus on West 49th Ave.

Calling today, “An homage to 1970's 'Great Trek' in which original Langarans walked from the old King Edward Centre to the college's current location,” Dawson says the ceremonial lead taken by the Musqueam drummers was more than symbolic.

Langara has long worked to respect and welcome Indigenous students. In 2010, the college opened the Gathering Space to provide an environment for students from First Nations to get together on campus, as well as being a home to a counsellor and the Elder in Residence.

In 2016, the college was honoured by the Musqueam Nation with a name which means “house of teachings” in their language. Langara, originally named after Spanish Admiral Juan de Lángara, was the first public post-secondary institution in BC to have an Indigenous name bestowed.

The connection with the Musqueam continues. Just last month, in Sept. 2018, a house post was raised to welcome all visitors to the traditional, unceded and ancestral territory of the Musqueam Nation on which Langara resides.

"Langara has grown and changed in so many ways over the course of its history. Throughout our 49 years, what hasn't changed is our commitment to our students and their success," says Dr. Lane Trotter, president of Langara College.

According to Dawson, “Beyond 49 will include a number of events over the coming months, and 49 Langarans, a celebration to recognize the 49 individuals who have had the largest impact on the college and the communities it serves.” Clickfor more details.

Trotter says, “As amazing as our impact has already been, Langara is just getting started. The Beyond 49 campaign is about celebrating all that we have already achieved, and building for our next 49 years."


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