Danish MPs Find ‘Inspiration’ in Trip to Prince George
Prince George, B.C. – A delegation of Danish MPs have been on a fact-finding mission in Prince George this week.
The six MPs visited UNBC campuses in Prince George and Quesnel looking at decentralized education systems and the delivery of economic supports in rural areas.
“We work with rural districts and small islands in Denmark and of course we experience what they experience all over the world,” said Mette Dencker, an MP and chair of the delegation. “People are moving away from the rural districts and we want to get some inspiration about how we can maintain jobs and education in rural districts.”
She said seeing firsthand the role UNBC has played in rural B.C. has taught them a lot.
“Because in Denmark we only have universities in the biggest cities and that means people living in the rural districts – whenever they go further, they need to go to another big city and then they never come back because that’s where they get established,” said Dencker.
“So, the way you do it here in Prince George and Quesnel and the surrounding districts has really inspired us. Maybe we could also develop this idea about having rural universities in the rural parts of Denmark.”
She said they were also impressed with the way organizations like Western Economic Diversification Canada and Northern Development Initiative Trust provide economic support to rural communities.
“They’re helping people…it could be a bakery, a restaurant, an elderly home, whatever. We like that idea and it’s something we can go home with.”
Geoff Payne, UNBC’s interim vice-president research and graduate programs, called it a “fantastic visit.”
“I think what this showcases from the university’s perspective is what we’ve been doing here in northern, B.C. – the impact of having a university in northern B.C. The fact a group from Denmark has come all this way to see what we’re doing.”