Next week, a multi-stakeholder forum will share local success stories of employers attracting, training and retaining First Nations employees and of partnerships that have opened doors.
One of the success stories highlighted will be Marine Harvest Canada. Representatives from the salmon aquaculture company will be part of a panel discussion during the Nanwakolas Council’s Multi-Stakeholder Forum on First Nations Training and Employment on Northern Vancouver Island. With the theme “Tapping into First Nations Talent,” the forum will be held May 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Thunderbird Hall (1420 Wewaikum Rd.).
Maurice “Moe” Isaac, a member of the Tlowitsis First Nation, is an assistant manager at Marine Harvest and has been working for the company since 2009.
“The training we receive on the job is just great,” he said. “I am one of the first assistant managers to take the Vancouver Island University courses to achieve the Essential Skills for Managers Certification and expect them to be completed in a couple of years. When the personal developing and skills training I receive from Marine Harvest are coupled with my own experience and knowledge, I am confident that I can achieve my goal of managing my own salmon farm site.”
Isaac says he was intimidated to apply for work at Marine Harvest at first.
“I’ve been working at Marine Harvest for seven years now and I wouldn’t go working anywhere else,” he said.
Isaac has been involved in aquaculture for 23 years. He started his career at the ‘Namgis salmon enhancement hatchery in the early 1990s and worked there for seven years. He was just 17 when he started working at the hatchery as a summer job. He has also worked for Heritage Salmon.
At Marine Harvest, Isaac’s No. 1 priority is making sure the salmon are well fed.
Isaac also supervises and delegates work to his crew and takes responsibility for decisions that are made when the manager is not at the site.
Tina Gonsky, Marine Harvest’s human resources manager, sees a success story like Isaac’s as a motivator for others.
“The success of people like Maurice resonates within his community,” she said. “The younger generation is watching and will want to emulate the success they see.”
For Mike Dobbs, Marine Harvest’s assistant production manager, Isaac’s success is a success for the company as well.
“With Moe’s training and experience, he has contributed to our current success, and our investment in people like Moe will benefit us far into the future,” he said.
During the May 5 forum, Dr. Ralph Nilson, president and vice-chancellor of Vancouver Island University, will give a keynote speech. There will also be a presentation of the draft Nanwakolas First Nations Training and Employment Strategy, along with two panel discussions: one about Employer and Aboriginal Employee Success Stories, and one about Education/Training and First Nations Partnerships.
“The First Nations Labour Market Partnership initiative that Nanwakolas brought to the region several months ago has been a very engaging process,” said Nanwakolas Council president Dallas Smith. “There’s been significant employer participation, along with stakeholders representing education, training and service providers, as well as First Nations and Aboriginal organization representatives that have all been participating in the development of this strategy. An actionable strategy to increase job-ready, skilled and motivated First Nations to fill high-demand jobs in key industries of our local economy is underway.”
For more information about the forum or to register, contact Kerry Jothen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-213-9231.