Burns Lake Native Development Corporation maintenance shop and training centre. (Ted Douglas photo/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake Native Development Corporation maintenance shop and training centre. (Ted Douglas photo/Lakes District News)

Fixing equipment, economy and training

BLNDC opens industrial training facility

Aboriginal development and the local economy threw a party, this past week. It was a grand opening. A large shop and office facility opened its doors to the world, based in the town’s industrial area. Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC) introduced their latest venture, a training centre for industrial professions.

Like most other elements of the BLNDC, it serves multiple purposes at once. It is also a shop for the equipment needed by the organization’s two social enterprises, Burns Lake Native Logging Ltd. and Six Nations Driving School. Generating income, training, employment, economic activity: it all works in a cycle.

“We’ve been working on quite a few things to expand our portfolio here,” said John Patrick, BLNDC’s liaison officer working with members for their on-boarding into training opportunities and with their outreach towards employment.

The new training shop is in partnership with the College of New Caledonia and the Industry Training Authority, organizations that have a long history working with BLNDC. The first course that is slated for the facility is heavy-duty mechanic training. The machines will be provided by the logging company.

“We do not want to stop production in mid-stride, so we are doing this training in the spring, February, to coincide with the logging industry cycle, so we can abscond with some of their machinery,” said Patrick. “We have hopes for carpentry training, heavy equipment operator training, we have always worked with the forestry sector on our past training, but we try to adjust all the time to meet the needs of local industry so we can move people quickly into the work that’s most available. Mining has a big demand, and we have a really good track record getting our members ticketed for pipeline work and getting them hired on. Now that we have our own facility, we would like to work on long-term training as well so our members can work towards a career not just short-term employment. We will still stay involved in those projects, but we are growing now. Now that we have a facility like this, we can look at what else it can do for our members.”

By working with various levels of government, with partners like Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment & Training Association, and directly with First Nations, the BLNDC’s education programs have a steady supply of students prioritized starting with their six partner nations of the Lakes District, other adjacent First Nations, but also non-Aboriginal students can also participate as space allows.

“A practical nursing course, a forestry program, tourism and hospitality courses – all of that is in development but still preliminary,” Patrick said.

Class 1 truck driver training was recently provided, as well, so the BLNDC is in the swing of job training as a means to boost the personal fortunes of Indigenous residents of the Lakes District, which in turn adds compounding value to the overall economy of the area.

“What we’re trying to do is zero in on all the jobs that need people, that’s why we have targeted those professions,” said Patrick. “A big example of how we apply that research was, we discovered that a huge obstacle for our members to holding jobs was no drivers’ licenses, no driving experience, no access to transportation, so the driving school was to address that challenge. We turn our attention to what’s needed.”

The new shop facility is located at 90 Roumieu Drive. Now that the grand opening party has been held, the next gatherings will be classes and community events.

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