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Media Release
Release Date: December 22, 2016

To address the particular needs of the coastal communities and industries, Camosun College has launched the Coastal Skills Initiative. The Initiative will contribute to the growth of BC’s unique coastal communities and the associated career opportunities.

The Coastal Skills Initiative will educate people in their specific trade and then provide the specific educational add-ons that will equip graduates with the skills to work in the marine industry to help close the knowledge gap that exists on the Coast. Examples include marine electrical certification, specialized skills for fabrication work done by welders, sheet metal workers and pipefitters in shipbuilding, construction workers building or maintaining marine infrastructure in remote coastal communities or the training of ship’s crews and officers for ferries, escort tugs and response vessels.

This program is a great fit for the Ralmax Group of Companies, founding partner in the Coastal Skills Initiative. “First, we know first-hand the many community benefits provided by the marine industry, given that we've got a number of marine-related companies like Point Hope Maritime,” says Ian Maxwell, President and CEO of the Ralmax Group. “We applaud an initiative that's going to increase awareness of coastal issues as well as connect people to the many skilled-work opportunities that exist in BC's marine industry.

The initiative also focuses on establishing a gateway for under-represented groups, specifically Indigenous students seeking education and opportunity. The majority of the BC coast is either First Nation land or the Traditional Territory of Indigenous peoples, hardworking people that, in a lot of Nations, have had significant rates of unemployment due to the decline in the fishing and lumber industries.  

“In terms of supporting indigenous students, that's key for Ralmax because virtually all marine-industry operations in BC—including ours—take place on traditional indigenous territory,” continues Maxwell. “This initiative is an excellent opportunity for our company to support indigenous people in finding new ways to put their skills to work along BC’s coast.”

“Camosun gave me the skill base and Ralmax gave me somewhere to plant my feet,” says Harvey Thomas, Songhees First Nation, a Camosun Welding Foundation program grad and current employee at Point Hope Maritime shipyard. “My home is eight minutes away from Point Hope and I’ve always had an affinity for the ocean. The partnership with the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations means I have a personal, vested interest. It’s a great company to work for and it’s a great fit for me.”

“Being of Coastal First Nation, our life is based on being on the coast,” says Thomas. “It’s where I live, it’s where my family lives, it’s where I’m from and it’s where my culture is.”

Camosun’s School of Trades’ Aboriginal in Trades program has graduated 241 students since it was established in 2013. Through discovering ‘success by doing’ it was determined how the program can best be tuned and expanded. The trades skills are essential in communities where constructing and maintaining buildings and marine infrastructure are urgent priorities. These qualified skilled trades people have much to offer their communities. There are also excellent career opportunities in industrial operations based in or near Indigenous communities. Ship repair, marine infrastructure, heavy mechanical, construction trades and marine transportation all offer employment that is essential to economic growth in coastal communities.

Camosun College’s Coastal Skills Initiative is a legacy project of the Camosun College Foundation’s $6.5 million TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign. Ralmax is a founding partner having contributed $50,000 to support the development and launch of the program.


Angus Matthews
Camosun College Foundation, TRADEmark Campaign

Last updated: December 22, 2016 2:53 pm

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