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First Nations Students in classroom

May 12, 2009 was a day of celebration for the Tseycum, Beecher Bay, Pauquachin, Tsawout and Tsartlip First Nations and Camosun College. Eleven students from the five local First Nations communities completed their Level 1 apprenticeship training in the Residential Building Maintenance Worker Program (RBMW).

The RBMW program equips apprentices with the skills to maintain and repair residential buildings (single family unit, multi-unit, high rise) including minor carpentry, drywall, electrical, floor laying, painting, plumbing, refrigeration and roofing repairs, as well as maintenance, installation, inspection, testing and troubleshooting (as per BC Safety Authority legislation and regulations).

This was truly a collaborative partnership initiated by the Tseycum First Nation, with training provided by Camosun College. Support for the pilot project came from the Industry Training Authority (ITA), the Residential Construction Industry Training Authority (RCITO), Coast Salish Employment & Training Society (CSETS) and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

What made this program unique was how it was tailored to meet the needs of the students and their communities. Classes were held at Tseycum Nation and shop work took place at the Tsartlip maintenance shop. Students gained hands-on experience by working on community projects, including:

  • building an access ramp, two sets of stairs and two concrete pads at the Beecher Bay Band Office;
  • building a set of stairs for a building at Tsawout;
  • framing and drywalling a storage room and building two storage cabinets at the Tseycum community kitchen;
  • repairing a door and replacing another at the Tsartlip community dining hall.
  • building a concrete pad and placing a Totem pole on it at the Tseycum community.
First Nations students showing course work

The schedule was modified to allow apprentices to alternate between work and study over a twelve-week period and included the support of a program manager/mentor and tutors. A Steering Committee was also created to further collaboration amongst partners and included representation from the Construction Sector Council (CSC).

Jackie Major, Tysecum Band Administrator, and Frank Michon, Community Maintenance Worker Program Manager, were responsible for bringing this program to fruition. Support for the program came from Chief Vern Jacks of Tseycum Nation, Chief Russ Chipps of Beecher Bay Nation, Chief Wayne Morris of Tsartlip, Chief Allan Claxton of the Tsawout Nation and Chief Bruce Underwood of the Pauquachin First Nation who also represented the Coast Salish Employment and Training Society. Camosun’s role in the partnership was assumed by Olaf Nielsen, Trades Training & Development Coordinator and Robin Heagy and Skip Witfield were the program instructors. For Robin Heagy, “seeing the co-operation of the many parties involved and the hard work that all 11 students put into their studies and the projects made this a program that I felt privileged to be a part of.”

First Nations Students on worksite

As noted by Gary McDermott, ITA Lead for Aboriginal Initiatives, “I was really pleased with what I witnessed yesterday attending the graduation. There was a lot of pride in the students...a real sense of co-operation, hard work, innovation, flexibility and partnership.” These sentiments were felt by all who participated in the event, including Chief Jacks, Chief Chipps, Chief Morris and Chief Underwood; Mary Ann Sam, Public Works Manager; Tsawout First Nation and administrators and councilors from Tysecum, Pauquachin and Tsawout First Nations; Aldeen Mason, Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Sheryl Francis, HR Development Manager and Phil Peterson, Construction Engineering Works Coordinator from the Department of National Defense (DND); Lorraine Marine, RCITO Apprenticeship Coordinator and Allan Page of the Construction Sector Council. Level 2 of the RBMW program will begin in September, 2009 and both students and instructor are eager to continue.

Congratulations to our graduates: Bill Frank, Howie Charles, Peter Charles, Charles Harry, Ralph Henry, Jim Leonard, Luis Maltos, Bruce Morris Sr., Bruce Morris Jr , Ryan Sam and William Thomas!

Find out more about trades training and Aboriginal education at Camosun College.

Last updated: May 25, 2009 3:46 pm

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