The graduating class from the bridging-to-trade program held a ceremony last week out at the Wet’suwet’en Hall. They sang and drummed a song they wrote themselves for those in attendance.

The graduating class from the bridging-to-trade program held a ceremony last week out at the Wet’suwet’en Hall. They sang and drummed a song they wrote themselves for those in attendance.

Program in Burns Lake provides essential skills

Twenty First Nations students celebrated their graduation last week at Wet’suwet’en Hall.

A graduation ceremony and traditional feast helped celebrate the successful completion of a bridging-to-trades, skills training program by members of the Burns Lake Band and Wet’suwet’en First Nations communities.

More than 100 people joined the 20 graduating students at the Wet’suwet’en First Nation Hall on Feb. 12, 2016.

“I want to congratulate our students on this milestone of success; a job well done by all the people involved in making this training a reality for our people,” said Wet’suwet’en First Nation Chief Karen Ogen. “We believe our people have the potential and it takes someone to believe in them; I challenge them to continue going and go after what they want.”

The program, which was delivered by the Lakes District campus of the College of New Caledonia, included eight weeks of practical shop time and one week of blended trades experience in five construction and mechanical trades: carpentry, piping, welding, electrician and millwright.

The graduating students now have the basics needed to seek an apprenticeship with an employer or to begin college-level trades training.

John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, explained that the training offered in Burns Lake will ensure that more First Nations members have the skills they need to take advantage of job opportunities, especially the direct and indirect jobs created by the emerging LNG industry.

Burns Lake Band Chief Dan George said building capacity within local communities is essential in meeting the needs derived from economic development agreements.

“It is imperative that while we create opportunities for generating wealth, that it is our people who are benefitting directly,” he said. “The opportunities are endless and I’m glad to see our people finding a place in the workforce and our economy.”

Provincial funding for the program was provided through the Aboriginal skills training development fund, which is investing up to $30 million over three years for new Aboriginal skills training projects and partnerships.