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Whistler Institute, Capilano University ink memorandum of understanding

The two organizations are establishing a formal connection two months after the announcement the North Vancouver-based university is coming to Squamish
Capilano University recently acquired the former Quest University location in Squamish.

The Whistler Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with North Vancouver-based Capilano University to expand education opportunities for the Whistler community.

According to an Oct. 27 release, the MOU is the first step in developing a working relationship between the organizations, with the goal of providing access to educational programs to residents and visitors to Whistler, while providing Capilano University avenues for setting their students up with “work-integrated learning opportunities.”

“This collaboration with Capilano University presents new and exciting educational opportunities that will benefit the Sea to Sky community,” said Suki Cheyne, executive director of the Whistler Institute.

Cheyne said while the MOU represents the very early stages of a formal relationship between the university and the Whistler Institute, there were already plans between them to hire a Capilano University student to conduct research on the educational needs of the resort, and create a report that would guide next steps.

“We’ll look at the results and look at how we can partner and work together to benefit the community,” said Cheyne, who explained the goal of the research was to look for and highlight areas of education where Capilano could help develop a local component. Whether through internships or research, the needs assessment generated by the MOU would point the way.

“There might be potential to have students come and work in the Whistler area and apply their learning,” she said.

“Ultimately it needs to connect to local industry and what’s already there, so there might be a natural fit with tourism or hospitality.”

The MOU partners are interviewing for the temporary research position at the end of this month, and Cheyne said they hoped to have a report to show for it by spring 2024.

The Whistler Institute, which emerged out of the Whistler Education group that formed in 2012 to re-imagine how educational opportunities could enhance the local experience, has an organizational agenda of identifying regional learning needs, and finding resources and partners to meet them. Through partnerships with other educational organizations, the Institute—which is without a physical, brick-and-mortar space—has delivered 48 courses and events to more than 2,700 people.

Capilano University is based in North Vancouver and has a campus on the Sunshine Coast, and recently purchased the former Quest University campus in Squamish for $63.2 million ($48 million of which came from the provincial government). The university also has a presence in Mount Currie, where it offers courses through the Lil’wat Nation’s Ts’zil Learning Centre.

In the release, Laureen Styles of Capilano University said the school was looking forward to deepening connections with the area.

“By working together, CapU and the Whistler Institute will cultivate distinct, transformative and life-enhancing learning experiences for those in Whistler as well as CapU students, faculty and staff,” she said.