Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, (centre, back row) poses with graduates from the Kitselas First Nation’s training program, following Thursday’s announcement. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Kitselas First Nation receives $1.2M boost for apprenticeship development program

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education announces $7.5M for six Indigenous training programs

Kitselas First Nation is receiving more than $1.2 million over two years to provide introductory training and industry certifications to 48 participants in Gitaus.

On Thursday, Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, announced $7.5 million to support funding for six new two-year training programs for Indigenous communities throughout B.C.

“For years, Indigenous leaders have been calling for skills training opportunities closer to home to support their community’s needs and self-determination,” Mark said. “Our government is responding to this Call to Action by working in partnership with Indigenous communities, the Industry Training Authority and employers. These new programs will create pathways for Indigenous workers to take advantage of the tens of thousands of in-demand jobs forecasted in the trades over the next decade.”

Programs include the Kitselas First Nation’s Kitselas Community-Led Apprenticeship Development. Over two years, an estimated 48 people will receive introductory trades training that will pave the way to apprenticeships.

“Investments from industries, such as LNG, mean it’s busy right now in northwest B.C., with tremendous opportunities to secure long-lasting careers in the skilled trades,” said Judy Gerow, Chief Councillor, Kitselas First Nation. “A successful career in the trades translates into economic security for families in our communities.”

Gerow also said that Indigenous communities in Prince Rupert and Kitimat will benefit from the program.

“With the opportunities in our backyard we felt such an excitement and hope because there was the prospect of work,” Gerow said. “But we found that we were running out of Kitselas members to attend the courses so we started opening it up to other First Nations. We try to work closely with the Haisla, the Nisga’a, Tsimshian Nations. It’s important to be inclusive and work with the City of Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert. In doing so we will bring the whole region together and make it stronger. It’s easier to work together than it is to fight with each other.”

READ MORE: All Nations Driving Academy gets boost from province

The Industry Training Authority (ITA) is providing the trades careers training programs, with funding from the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement (WDA). The programs are estimated to assist more than 475 people and will address community opportunities with courses ranging from exploratory and introductory trades to construction and electrical training.

“These new programs will ensure more individuals have opportunities to access training and become apprentices while giving them the tools to be successful,” said Shelley Gray, CEO, ITA.

Trades graduate Mary Stoomer tears up and raises her hand as Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training presents her with a diploma in equipment operations, and reminds the crowd of the importance of women in the trades. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

The five other programs receiving funds are:

The Construction Foundation of BC is receiving more than $2 million to provide individualized services, including employment and apprenticeship opportunities, to 110 participants in Nuxalk Nation, Lytton First Nation, Blueberry River First Nation, Ahousaht First Nation, Penticton Indian Band, Tl’etinqox and Witset First Nation.

  • Alternate Pathway to Electrical: ACCESS is receiving more than $900,000 to provide electrical foundation training to 32 participants in Burnaby and Port Coquitlam.
  • Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops is receiving almost $1.5 million over two years to provide introductory programs, such as construction craft worker, heavy equipment operator and a trades sampler program to 100 participants in Kamloops, Lillooet and Chase.
  • TRU’s Williams Lake campus is receiving almost $478,000 to provide a heavy mechanics foundation program, including wraparound supports and industry certifications to 28 participants in Williams Lake.
  • Camosun College, at its Interurban campus and at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, is receiving almost $1.4 million over two years to provide exploratory trades skills foundation courses to 160 participants.

READ MORE: Coast Mountain College’s indigenization efforts recognized at international symposium


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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