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Campus Life  

Collaborative program opens doors for Indigenous trades students

Okanagan College Media Release

Cameron Jack CCW Dec 2017Cameron Jack was just 17 when he first stepped into the carpentry shop at Okanagan College. Two years and two levels of apprenticeship training later, Jack is inspiring others around him to follow in his footsteps while he continues down the path of a family member who inspired him.

A member of the Okanagan Indian Band, Jack is one of eight students who completed the Construction Craft Worker (CCW) 2 Aboriginal Journeyperson Preparation program this month. He and his peers were recognized in front of family, friends and community members at a ceremony in the Trades Complex on Friday, Dec. 15.

“For the me the highlight of the program has been seizing the opportunity to become a mentor,” says Jack. “I’ve been able to be a role model for some friends who are now going to the College for trades and culinary arts. I’m really proud I was able to inspire them to do that because the College has definitely made a difference in my life and I’m excited to see the impact is has on theirs as well.”

Jack and his fellow students represent seven distinct bands and First Nations from across Western Canada – from the Adams Lake Indian Band, Neskonlith Indian Band, Okanagan Indian Band, Ulkatcho First Nation and Westbank First Nation in B.C., all the way to the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan and the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba.CCW2 Dec 2017

Friday’s ceremony closed the loop on a two-year educational journey for Jack. This time last year, he was crossing the stage in the very same spot to pick up his CCW Level 1 credential (he was among the second class to graduate from Level 1 of the program since it piloted in February 2015). It also brought into focus for him a much longer tie to the trades within his family.

“My great grandfather built the house we live in by hand,” notes Jack. “So it means a lot to me to be on the same path as he was.”

The 19-year-old won’t have to wait long to begin his new career. With both credentials under his toolbelt, Jack will start work with local construction company Wibco in the new year – a connection he made during his training this fall.

The program was made possible through a partnership with BC Hydro and with support from the Okanagan Training & Development Council, Aboriginal Skills Employment & Training Services, Canadian Home Builders’ Association, New Relationship Trust, and Okanagan Kids Care Fund Society. The organizations provided tuition and books, tools, lunches, safety gear and transportation, meal allowances and accommodation, daycare support and living support for out-of-town students.

BC Hydro provided the funding for an Aboriginal Trades Transition Planner – a Red Seal electrician – who was on hand for cultural, academic and employment support. The students also worked with Aboriginal peer mentors, one-on-one tutors, Elders and the College’s Aboriginal Services team to keep up their grades and their spirits during the program.

“It has been incredibly rewarding for us to follow the achievements of the students in this program,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College. “I’m very proud of the students, for their hard work and dedication, and am appreciative of BC Hydro and all of the employers and organizations who have invested in these students and in the program since it began.”

Opening doors to the workforce for Indigenous students from all over the province was one of the key factors that propelled BC Hydro to partner with the College on this intake and last fall’s intake of Level 1, notes Nadine Israel
, Indigenous Program Specialist - Southeast Region for ?BC Hydro.

“By starting here and preparing candidates, working closely with the Indigenous communities, BC Hydro is being proactive in training our future workforce and the workforce needed by our many contractors and the communities we serve across B.C.

“It’s wonderful to see community members like Cameron and his fellow students seize those opportunities.”

More information about the Construction Craft Worker program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/ccwab

 




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