A cohort of 10 local Aboriginal students are on their way to Vancouver Island University for trades training thanks to a partnership between VIU and Nanwakolas Council.

Campbell River Aboriginal students to get trades training at VIU

First Nations partnership with VIU provides opportunity to 10 local students

A group of 10 Aboriginal students from the Campbell River area will soon be getting a unique educational opportunity thanks to a new partnership between Nanwakolas Council and Vancouver Island University (VIU).

The participants in the partnership will complete a five-week “Road Builder Foundation” course at VIU to give them an introduction to the skills required in the road building and forestry machinery sector. The course will provide them an overview of the industry including safe work practices, environmental requirements, introduce them to the tools and equipment used in the industry and the principles of civil engineering.

Additionally, completion of the program will satisfy the Industry Training Authority’s prerequisite for entry into their Heavy Equipment Operator Technician Apprenticeship program.

“This training being delivered in our First Nations community is a great opportunity for the Wei Wai Kum and other Nanwakolas First Nations’ members to acquire in-demand job skills to help participants gain employment in the forest sector and heavy equipment operations,” says Chief Robert Pollard of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation.

Merv Child, president of Nanwakolas Council agrees, saying the partnership helps them make progress in the implementation of their recent Training and Employment Strategy.

That study was released last year after extensive consultation with member nations of the Nanwakolas Council – who represent the interests of seven nations on Vancouver Island and the South Central Coast.

“It outlines 41 specific tactics and recommended actions targeting how there can be a more coordinated approach among various stakeholders in Aboriginal development,” said Chris Roberts, economic development officer for Nanwakolas Council at the time of the study’s release.

One of those tactics and recommended actions was to increase participation and success in education and credential attainment – exactly what this partnership is meant to accomplish.

“It’s very encouraging to see these positive outcomes that result from collaborations built on our positive relationships with post-secondary institutions and industry of our region,” Child says.

The funding for the partnership is being made available through the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund Agreement.