For the Point family, education is a family affair. Camosun College is a stop on the education journey for a daughter, father and grandmother.
When Karla Point started at Camosun College over 25 years ago she was a trailblazer not only within her family but for Indigenous students in general. By setting an example, Karla made space for following generations of the Point family to go to college including her son Jason and now her granddaughter Naviana.
“I was raised around people who valued post-secondary,” says Naviana, who has accepted a seat in Camosun’s University Transfer program for Arts and Science. “My grandma would take me to her office at UVic, my dad would take me to university with him. I dreamt about being a fancy college student, with a college notebook and a college hoodie.”
Naviana’s father Jason came to Camosun in 2002, graduating with a diploma in First Nations Community Studies before completing a degree in Psychology at UVic. Her grandmother Karla earned a diploma in Criminal Justice in 1996, went on to law school and is now the Indigenous Resurgence Coordinator for the Faculty of Fine Arts at UVic, where she works on indigenization and decolonization.
“I’m always encouraging Indigenous students to push for higher education,” says Karla, whose family is of Hesquiaht and Sts’ailes-aht ancestry. “When I started at Camosun in the mid-90s, there was no space for Indigenous students. I got onto the First Nations students’ association and my first goal was to get physical space for our students. We advocated very strongly and got the top floor of the Young building. One of my achievements was getting that space for our students.”
Her son Jason says, “By getting to hang out here as a kid, I got really comfortable with the idea that I could do post-secondary. I knew it would be work, but it was important to me. It was a community I was already a part of. I was waiting for my chance to participate in it.”
Naviana echoes this sense of being welcomed. “It feels like I’m already part of the community here, and I haven’t even started classes yet.”
Jason and Karla both have hopes for Naviana, and advice for all students starting their post-secondary journey at Camosun this fall.
“Learning is a life-long experience,” says Karla. “Enjoy your time here, take advantage of all the opportunities. Meet people, soak it all in, be a sponge.”
Jason adds, “The goal of education is what brought you here, but I really hope you’ll be able to learn from other people’s experiences. Develop community, find people who come here for reasons like you, meet mentors who’ll share their knowledge and experience.”
The Points remind us that education can be a family affair, and it takes a whole family for members to make their way through post-secondary. Karla acknowledges her husband, Vern Point, for supporting and feeding the family while she studies. Jason thanks his wife, Sage, for teaching him how to be a student.
“There’s been so much growth, and room has been made for us,” Karla reflects. “Next generations are coming in and I’m so proud to see it happening.”