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First Nations Team Leaders Celebrate a Unique Learning Experience

Twenty participants in an innovative program with Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining will celebrate the culmination their two-month training program on Sunday May 27. The Celebration of Learning will take place at a bush camp classroom near Smithers, where this learning initiative began. Members of First Nations from across northwest BC have been part of the Reclamation and Prospecting Team Leader Training program. They come from Burns Lake, Moricetown, Smithers, Hazeltons, Kitwanga, Terrace, Gingolx and Dease Lake. The Team Leader classes were the first step in the Reclamation and Prospecting (RAP) project. Many of the participants will apply for positions as Team Leaders in RAP. They will act as instructors and mentors to the 50 First Nation students who will take part in the 10-week RAP project. They will work along side School of Exploration and Mining instructors and visiting industry professionals. "The RAP project is an excellent opportunity for First Nations to learn more about the exploration and mining industries, comments Chris Warren, the President of Smithers Exploration Group. We believe RAP will help build bridges between First Nations communities and the companies seeking to work in traditional territories." "We are focused on delivering skills which encourage the implementation of sound environmental management practices, and promote the awareness of all stakeholders," states NWCC Dean, Continuing Education and Industry Training, Margo Van der Touw. The Reclamation and Prospecting project is a new approach to training First Nations for employment in the minerals sector. This is a 3-year pilot project, jointly funded by the Government of British Columbia and Human Resources and Social Development Canada Pan-Canadian Innovations initiative. The training will cover skills as diverse as wilderness safety, GPS and compass instruction, environmental monitoring including soil and water sampling, basic prospecting and reclamation requirements at historic mine sites in the area. The classrooms are in two bush camps located in the Smithers and Houston regions. Eligible students are: 18 to 35 year olds Northwest BC First Nations Unemployed Able to work safely in a bush camp environment "What sets this program apart is that First Nations cultural knowledge and practice carries equal weight to technical knowledge and training," explains NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth. "Content is delivered by a diverse group of experts from industry, First Nations, and Elders who impart skills and knowledge from their respective points of expertise." There is no cost to the student. Students will receive a training allowance and then a completion bonus at the end of the season. All food, transportation and accommodation costs are covered. Deadline for applications is May 31. The training camps will last from Mid-June to late August/early September. Upon completion of the training, successful students will have the services of the School of Exploration and Mining employment advisor. The Celebration of Learning takes place at the NWCC Ganokwa Creek Field Camp. 16 kilometres north of Highway 16 near Smithers on the Old Babine Lake Road, just past the Ganokwa Creek bridge on Sunday May 27 at 5 pm.

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