Algonquin College is going to be the first school in Ontario to receive an institute for indigenous entrepreneurship.

School officials announced a $43-million renovation project on Wednesday that will see the library in the ‘C’ building revamped to include the new Algonquin College Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Learning Centre.

Crystal Michaud, a teacher in the indigenous cook pre-apprenticeship program, said a main focus will be providing students will traditional indigenous teaching models.

“Culture really provides a place for strength and confidence,” Michaud said. “If you’re struggling, or having issues, you know that you have a family to come back to that can help you and support you in achieving your goals.”

One of Michaud’s students, Kate Bouska, discussed some of the dificulties indigenous students can face at school.

“A lot of indigenous people don’t feel welcome, and they’re all nervous and anxious, and feel they don’t belong in a way. So to have things like this, it’s really amazing,” Bouska said.

Algonquin College has more than 1000 indigenous students, with more enrolling every year. This program will give them the tools to graduate.

“We want to make their time here more meaningful, so they graduate and are contributing to the labour market,” said Ron McLester, the school’s Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives.

The funds committed to this program are coming from both levels of government and Algonquin College.