Students, staff at private North Bay college locked out of courses

Lack of transparency and communication is causing students and teachers stress.

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Amanda Weichel in front of the now shuttered Native Education and Training Centre in North Bay, Ont. Photo: submitted.

The Native Education and Training Centre, a private college in North Bay Ont. has a lot going on, but former students and teachers say classes aren’t one of those things.

When Amanda Weichel from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation signed up for the Human Resources Management program at the Native Education and Training Centre [NETC], she had no idea how she’d never have full access to her program.

The NETC is a private college located four hours north of Ottawa. It offers diploma programs in various fields such as business, healthcare, human services, and technology, with a focus on serving Indigenous students.

Weichel signed up, paid her full tuition online and prepared to embark on a fast-tracked program in human resources management.

She enrolled on Nov. 29 and paid $6,100 to cover expenses, including tuition and books.

Weichel began her course in December 2023 and was given a 14-day trial access to the course software and online textbooks.

It was after the trial period that her troubles began.

Weichel reached out to NETC to request her permanent login and ultimately found herself locked out of the school’s system completely.

“They ghosted me. There was no further communication until Jan. 12,” she said. “At that time, they [NETC] said I was entitled to a 30-day refund. I waited and after another 30 days I still didn’t have my refund and I still hadn’t heard back from them. [NETC].”

APTN News was unable to find any refund policy from the school online.

Weichel said she got tired of feeling ignored so she took to social media making a post on Facebook.

“I just posted the facts, but it got their [NETC’s] attention. Within 15 hours of the post, NETC contacted me they told me they had to have a meeting with their board of directors, and they would get back to me within 24 hours.”

“Again, I didn’t hear back from them. So, I contacted the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and they are now investigating and trying to rectify the situation.”

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In an email response to APTN, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities said, “The Superintendent of Career Colleges is aware of a student that has concerns with Native Education and Training College and is speaking with the parties to facilitate a resolution to the issue.”

Weichel said she just wants a refund.

“It was Jan. 12, when I spoke to the school, filled out the forms and asked for a refund,” she said. “They had agreed to give me the refund (but) I’ve yet to see the refund— the school replied and said that they would give me a credit for my course instead.”

In a screenshot shared with APTN from March 25, Weichel showed she contacted Waylon Stewart, son of the former director Larry Stewart, who has taken over the role of director, about her refund.

“I wasn’t able to do anything myself because I am on leave and my admin accounts are suspended until my return date,” the message from Waylon Stewart said. “The reason you haven’t gotten it [refund] is because the account has a negative balance.

“The college is going to refund you, no matter what.”

APTN reached out to members of the Stewart family several times for comment with no response.

According to Weichel, they didn’t refund her – instead, they sent a credit to her school account.

Weichel is not alone in receiving mixed messages, if any at all, from NETC.

Former health sciences instructor, Tammy Jackson, said she knows of 11 students at NETC who had their tuition taken from their accounts, yet they’re locked out of their online learning systems with no correspondence from the school.

For Jackson, her troubles began with irregular paycheques in March 2023.

“I actually can’t find any paystubs since August,” Jackson said. “And no T4s, no T2200s and no ROE [Record of Employment].”

Without an employment record, Jackson and other instructors can’t access employment insurance.

After a call to the Canada Revenue Agency, Jackson said she found out they [NETC] had not submitted anything for 2023.

Jackson is actively trying to find a new job. She fears being in the news may hinder her application process and landing interviews.

“I have an interview on Friday and I’m nervous I’ll get passed over due to being in the media,” Jackson said. “But sometimes we have to do what’s right.”

Skylar Sayer, from Mississauga First Nation located halfway between Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury, Ont., was enrolled in the Environmental Technician program.

“I started in May 2023. As a new student, I had a lot of questions to which they would respond to my emails with one-word answers. It seemed like they were apprehensive of communicating at all,” he said.

Sayer moved through his course online and got to the final exam.

“I tackled the exam on Jan. 4. I still haven’t heard anything about my score, to this point,” he said. “After the exam, I waited a few weeks then I contacted the school to ask about my score.”

Being an online student, Sayer’s only real course of action was to email his inquiries. But he kept getting automated replies.

“One administrator’s email came back with an auto-reply of, on paternity leave and directed me to another administrator email which also came back with an automated reply, on leave,” Sayer said. “I finally reached an email that wasn’t an auto-reply and they never got back to me.

“So, I called the school. I managed to reach Lee Stewart, wife of Larry the director. She told me they were waiting on an access code. She said her son, Waylon, would return from paternity leave on Feb.9 and would take care of it.

“My band paid my tuition, so I then let them know what was happening. Lee Stewart got back to them immediately and told them their system got hacked. But they hadn’t communicated that to me. Why would they hurry to tell my band that but not me, their student?

“That was suspicious.”

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The lease termination notice posted on the front door of the Native Education and Training Centre in North Bay. Photo: submitted

As of Feb.7., a notice posted on the front door of the school states — “In accordance with section 16.00 of the lease, due to non-payment of rent arrears in the amount of $17,975.49, the landlord has terminated the Lease and hereby repossess the premises.”

In a recent Facebook post, NETC’s director, Larry Stewart, wrote he has been ill since 2019 and his son Waylon has taken over. In the same post, Stewart blames tuition cheque thieves for the problem.

“As the months went by our tuition fee cheques were not coming in, so with many follow up calls to secure the payments, I got visit from a co-worker and said that some strange dude was in your mailbox, wow, this dude was stealing our tuition fee cheques because we are a Indigenous College and easy prey. Before we knew it we could not pay our rent, instructor’s or accounts payable period,” the post said.

In the same Facebook post, Larry Stewart goes on and said, “Waylon’s team is enrolling students and apprenticeships are good to go. Tuition fees are refundable now for those who want their funds returned, not a issue.”

Weichel begs to differ – she still hasn’t gotten her refund.

They have sent her a full credit but Weichel said she wants no more to do with NETC and wants her money back. She said what she really wants is to save others from applying to programs at the school.

Jackson hopes for the same thing.

“The school continues to claim that it’s up and running, while it’s still trying to hire new professors,” said Jackson. “Their website and their Facebook page are all still active. They have no instructors. I’m confused,” she said.

“So how do they keep in-taking people with no instructors?”

The same Facebook post by Larry Stewart on April 19, said all the instructors quit.

“All of my instructors quit, and the landlord locked our campus door and we could not get in. Waylon and his team worked remotely, and then in February our CANVAS LMS platform [an internal school website for students and staff] was hacked and disabled and we had no access to students or grades etc., it was a nightmare to say the lest (sic),” the post said.

But Jackson has a screenshot of a suspension notice posted on the Canvas website that said the site was suspended “due to non-payment of invoice.”

She also gets an “account suspended” message from Canvas when attempting to log in.

Sayer said he wants people to be aware of what’s happening.

“This course was supposed to be finished in May of this year. This was supposed to be the beginning of a longer education path in the field of environmental science for me. This throws back everything. I didn’t get my credentials for this course, so I have to restart everything,” Sayer said. “I should at least have something to show for this.

”It’s stressful and frustrating. They’re (NETC) advertising courses for 2024-2025. They are still getting away with this. This has cost me a year of my life.”

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