By: Karl Kofmel

The Pembroke campus officially opened Nov. 29 with a christening of the building and a performance by Jason Blaine, Algonquin alumnus and Canadian Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award winner. Guests got a tour of the campus and witnessed an Aboriginal spirtual blessing by an elder of the Algonquin of the Pikawakanagon and Bear Nation Drummers.

With five generations of Algonquin grads looking on, an Order of Canada recipient christened the new Pembroke waterfront campus declaring it officially open.

A bus filled with almost every head of the Woodroffe campus made the trip down to Pembroke Nov. 29 to see the opening.
“One of the best openings I’ve ever been to,” said Karen Murphy from ITS. “I think it was that way because of the small town feel.”

The guests were treated to a tour immediately upon arrival where they got to see the brand new fitness centre, gym, nursing department and all the amazing views of the Ottawa River.

“It doesn’t look like Pembroke,” said Fred Blackstein a member of the Board of Governors. “This is your community campus.”

It wasn’t all about the view though. To open up the ceremony there was an Aboriginal spiritual blessing and drumming from Barbara Sarazin, elder of the Algonquin of the Pikawakanagon and the Bear Nation Drummers.

A big surprise of the day came when Canadian Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award winner, and Algonquin College alumni, Jason Blaine’s single, They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore played, followed by his appearance halfway through.

“We had a beautiful piece of property we could donate and the college gave back to us,” said Mayor of Pembroke, Ed Jacyno. “(When I bring people to see it) they’re astounded to see a building of this calibre in this city.

The campus makes a great first impression. People who had barely arrived were gushing about it from the start.

“I haven’t really had an opportunity to see too much, but from what I can see, the natural light coming in, the view, and from what I understand they have a state-of-the-art facility as far as labs and so forth,” said Chery Leigh from Renfrew County’s department of social services. “So I’m looking forward to seeing that.”

The campus itself received its fair share of praise, but the location along the shoreline of the Ottawa River in a public park provides the most acclaim.

“The waterfront location is one of the greatest features of our new building and we wanted to take advantage of this natural link when we were planning our official opening,” said Karen Davies, Pembroke campus Dean.

The visit had made quite an impression upon those who had travelled from Woodroffe. When they were almost back to Ottawa President Kent MacDonald stood up at the front of the bus and asked if anyone wanted to move to Pembroke.

The reply from most of the bus back to him?