New training program supports Aboriginal learners and BC’s mineral exploration industry
SMITHERS, B.C. - August 7, 2014.
A new and unique program is responding to industry needs and helping to better prepare Aboriginal learners for work in the mineral exploration, mining and natural resources fields.
Northwest Community College’s School of Exploration & Mining (NWCC SEM) delivered a pilot Mining Exploration & Natural Resource Field Assistant program in Smithers, BC July 7-24, 2014 in partnership with the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia (AME BC). AME BC is recognized as an expert in aboriginal and community engagement for the world-leading mineral exploration and development sector based in BC.
Nine graduates completed the intensive program that not only prepares graduates for field work in a variety of natural resource industries, but which also included resources to support Aboriginal inclusion and cultural content. Thanks to a $7,000 donation from AME BC, the program included an Aboriginal Instructor on the instructional team, brought elders into the classroom and hosted a celebration of learning to celebrate student success.
“When I started the course, I thought I would fail,” says graduate Cecil Tait. “Every day was a new challenge but the instructors were so incredible and patient, teaching us a set of hands-on skills. I now feel very confident and this program will definitely help me move forward.”
The program is the result of a comprehensive review conducted in 2013-14 in consultation with 21 industry experts from different areas of the natural resources sector and education. The program equips students with a transferable skill-set that maximizes employment options for field positions in a range of areas including mineral exploration, environmental services, initial stages of LNG development, and forestry.
“Over the past ten years NWCC has shown leadership in training Aboriginal peoples for the BC mineral exploration and development workforce in northwestern BC, one of the most active areas in Canada for mineral exploration and development,” says AME BC President & CEO Gavin C. Dirom. “Through its programs, it has also increased awareness of the culture and perspectives of First Nations among all participants, including non-Aboriginals. As partners, we are proud to support this new program and anticipate that it will contribute to local Aboriginal participation in the industry as well as strengthen relationships between industry and Aboriginal communities in BC.”
With Work BC estimating 19,900 job openings for the North Coast and Nechako Region between 2010 and 2020, training programs such as this will greatly benefit the industry. NWCC SEM’s innovative field based training model ensures students are job-ready upon graduation.
“This program is an example of Northwest Community College’s commitment to meeting industry needs and working collaboratively to provide programming that is reflective of our communities and helps put students on a path to success,” says NWCC Interim President Denis Caron.
Director, Communications & Public Relations