Students head to forestry boot camp

Program aims to open doors to local job opportunities, say provincial officials

A few Pemberton and Mount Currie students have traded in the books for chainsaws as they take part in a Forestry Skills Boot Camp.  

The Spud Valley and Lil’wat First Nation students are among 1,400 British Columbians to receive the entry-level forestry job training from the College of the Rockies at Blue Lake Centre in Cranbrook. The program falls under the umbrella of a federal and provincial partnership as a part of the Canada Job Fund. It aims to provide youth with the skills they need to land jobs in their communities, stated a press release from the provincial government.

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The College of the Rockies is receiving $248,700 to put the students through their paces at the school. The students will try their hand at everything from brush saw operation to first aid. The course is currently underway and students will wrap up at the end of the month.

The program is a part of more than $10.4 million in 46 training programs across the province. In the next decade, B.C. will see nearly one million job openings due to retirements and economic growth, according to the press release. The investment in targeted skills training helps keep the economy diverse and growing, West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy said in the press release.

“This program will not only help us meet the demands of our labour market, it will also help First Nations take advantage of employer-driven training that will lead to a rewarding career in a dynamic sector,” he said.

The Forestry Skills Boot Camp was initiated as a pilot project that started in 2011. At the time, the approximate two-week course had an 87 per cent success rate in regards to job placement, the College of the Rockies stated on its website.

SLRD and First Nations open communication challenges

It is only the second time in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) history that a meeting with this much representation from the region’s many rural communities has been held, Jim McArthur, of the Lillooet Tribal Council, said.

Late last month, the chiefs and councillors from the six northern St’at’mic communities met with regional district directors and Lillooet mayor and council members for a Community to Community (C2C) Forum. The two-day meeting marked a monumental step, as it was only the second time since the regional district’s creation that all parties
had been at the table, McArthur said.

The event was spawned out of the SLRD’s feasibility study compiled in 2013 and released the following year, said Jeannette Nadon, the regional district’s communications and grants coordinator. The document examined best governance models for communities in the north of the region and how to better incorporate them into the SLRD’s operations.

The SLRD has set out explore ways that the various organizations might work more collaboratively.

The SLRD’s region and eight political bodies within its boundaries are complex, Nadon noted. The SLRD has been looking for ways to try and generate economic growth within its smaller communities. Opening communication is a fundamental step, she noted.

“The groups are coming together to build trust and understanding,” she said.

The forum, which was facilitated by EcoPlan International, took place in the St’at’imc community of Xwisten, near Lillooet. The Jan. 21 opening kicked off with a presentation by St’at’imc member and doctoral candidate Cathy Narcisse, who shared her understanding of the history of the legal context and mechanisms of colonial oppression of indigenous people in Canada. The talk provided the community’s perspective of aboriginal title and jurisdiction requirements established by the Canadian legal system in order to lend context for the forum’s discussions.

The next day the meeting kicked off with small-group dialogue sessions, in which St’at’imc speakers shared information on topics including business development and agreements with BC Hydro. SLRD officials then provided a general overview of its governance, mandate, structure, services and financial allocations. The forum ended with a discussion regarding ways to improve collaboration and resource sharing.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities-funded event was a great step toward stronger relationships, SLRD chair Jack Crompton said.

“We appreciate the St’at’imc’s willingness to share their history, perspectives and vision with us,” he said. “We recognize we have much more to learn, but we are committed to continuing the dialogue and to doing our part to promote reconciliation within our organization and in the communities we serve.”

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