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Province Presents RAP Funding

Bulkley Valley-Stikine MLA Dennis MacKAY experienced the Northwest Community College School of Exploration and Mining in action today as he presented a cheque for $994,000 at the School's Ganokwa training camp, just outside of Smithers. The money represents the Province's share of $2.8 million in funding for the School's Reclamation and Prospecting (RAP) program in 2007. The Reclamation and Prospecting program is a 3-year pilot program, jointly funded by the Government of British Columbia and Human Resources and Social Development Canada, that brings an innovative approach to training 50 First Nations youth for employment in the minerals sector. "This funding partnership with the federal government demonstrates a commitment from both levels of government to training for Aboriginal people in one of the country's most active mineral exploration areas," stated MacKAY. "Aboriginal people in northwest BC are learning skills that cover a wide range of industry activities, from prospecting to environmental and reclamation assessment work." In presenting the cheque for RAP, MacKAY was able to sit in on the first day of basic prospecting training. The prospecting section of RAP introduces the students to mineral identification and on-line staking. The program takes place at two separate training camps; the Ganokwa camp near Smithers and the Emerald Glacier camp near the Huckleberry Mine south of Houston. The 50 students are being mentored and trained by 11 First Nations Team Leaders, who went through a 2-month training period this spring. They are working alongside School of Exploration and Mining instructors and visiting industry professionals. Elders from various First Nations across the northwest are also providing counseling and cultural instruction. The students have already learned first aid, wilderness safety, and navigational skills. After prospecting, they move into environmental monitoring including soil and water sampling, and reclamation requirements at historic mine sites in the area. "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." "The RAP program is an excellent opportunity for First Nations to learn more about the exploration and mining industries," comments Chris Warren, President of Smithers Exploration Group, industry partner in Northwest Community Colleges School of Exploration and Mining. "We believe RAP will help build bridges between First Nations communities and the companies that want to work in traditional territories." The program is being offered at no cost to the student. Students receive a training allowance followed by a completion bonus at the end of the season. The training camps will run until early September. Upon completion of the training, successful students will be able to utilize the services of the School of Exploration and Mining employment advisor. Developed in response to the skills shortages, Northwest Community Colleges School of Exploration & Mining, in partnership with Smithers Exploration Group, develops industry-related courses and programs and offers training in various areas of exploration and mining.

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