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School of Exploration & Mining receives $2.8 million in Government Support

The Province and federal government today announced funding in the amount of $2.8 million dollars to Northwest Community College's School of Exploration and Mining Reclamation and Prospecting Program. $900,000 in funding is coming from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resource with $1.9 million being provided by Human Resources and Social Development Canada. "The government's financial support will help build upon the successful work underway at the College," states Stephanie Forsyth, President of Northwest Community College (NWCC). "Over the past two years, Northwest Community College, in partnership with the Smithers Exploration Group, has provided over 300 graduates to exploration, mining and supply companies." "This funding will greatly assist in filling much needed skills and employment shortages," states Chris Warren, President of Smithers Exploration Group (SEG). "SEG is working closely with NWCC to provide practical, industry-focused training that addresses environmental and First Nations concerns." Offered in partnership with the School's industry partner, Smithers Exploration Group, the Reclamation and Prospecting Program (RAP) supports the development of leadership and employment skills in rural and First Nations communities in northern British Columbia and provides participants with valuable experience in environmental monitoring and reclamation. The RAP program will be developed with input from several First Nations and industry stakeholders through an advisory network. "An important feature of this initiative is that curriculum will be developed and delivered in collaboration with First Nations leaders and educators to ensure that the culture and tradition of First Nations is learned in concert with technical skills," explains Forsyth. Recruitment for students to be trained in the program will begin in spring. The Program will be offered in a variety of communities near several former mine sites as identified by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. This is the first year of a three year project. Initially the College will be working closely with the Tahltan, Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en and moving more broadly afield in years two and three. The RAP certificate program will take six months to complete. Team leaders and students will gain technical knowledge and leadership skills for mining and related industry sectors. Part of the training will be in a field-based environment. Participants will collect environmental data for making recommendations to clean up historical mine sites in a safe manner. RAP is the newest program to be offered through NWCCs School of Exploration and Mining. For the past two years the School has been running the successful Mining Exploration Field Assistant (MEFA) and Drillers Helper program. Through the support of BC Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources the MEFA program was expanded across the province in partnership with four other colleges. "The RAP program is an expression of the changes underway in the exploration and mining sector," states Margo Van der Touw, Dean of Continuing Education and Industry Training at NWCC. "There is rapidly increasing awareness of the need for sound environmental practices and building better relations with First Nations in Canada." Developed in response to the skills shortages, Northwest Community College's School of Exploration & Mining, in partnership with Smithers Exploration Group and the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources, develops industry-related courses and programs and offers training in various areas of exploration and mining.

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