Xwe’malhkwu (Homalco) First Nation awarded WorkBC grant to train forestry workers

Applications are now open for the tuition-free Forestry trades program for Indigenous people

Xwe’malhkwu (Homalco) First Nation awarded WorkBC grant to train forestry workers

For Immediate Release- [Xwe’malhkwu Territory] September 4, 2020

A new partnership between Homalco First Nation and North Island College will provide Indigenous students a first step into a wide range of entry level forestry careers including assistant timber cruiser, compasser, forest field assistant, junior layout engineer and many more.

“This training program is a vital step for Homalco Nation in building capacity to participate in the local forest economy, said Chief Darren Blaney “Our territory is home to diverse forest and plant species and balancing stewardship and economic values requires skilled people. I encourage our members to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Coastal Forest Worker Certificate program starts on October 5, 2020 and is being offered tuition-free to eligible students. It’s been made possible through a $196,308 grant offered by WorkBC’s Community Workforce Response Grant program.

“As government moves through our economic restart plan, it’s important that we support people as they train and build the skills they need for good-paying, family-supporting jobs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This grant program will establish a skilled workforce and help people build meaningful careers for a stable and sustainable future.”

This isn’t the first time Homalco Nation and North Island College have successfully worked together. Last year, the partners collaborated on a Hatchery Operations Certificate program which graduated 12 Indigenous students.

Five of the Hatchery Operations graduates are now working at Homalco Nations’ Orford Hatchery in salmon enhancement and guardianship roles. Other graduates have found jobs in the private sector, like class valedictorian Robert Harry.

“I was a Registered Forestry Technician until an injury took me out of the field,” said Harry, “Concerned about my future I signed up for the hatchery technician course. Now I’m working in the private sector with the goal of applying this additional knowledge to our own Salmon enhancement efforts at the Orford Hatchery. I want to thank John Blaney, Dr. Ronquillo and Cpt. Chris Bunn for encouraging me on this learning journey.”

Cheryl O’Connell, Dean, Faculty of Trades and Technical Programs for North Island College says that the school is thankful for another opportunity to work together.

“North Island College  is honoured to be again collaborating with Homalco to serve the Nation’s education and economic development priorities.”

To learn more about the Coastal Forest Worker Certificate, please visit NIC’s website or attend a Virtual Info Session at 11am on September 9, 2020. To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/coastal-forest-worker-virtual-info-session-tickets-118655663283

Media interviews – Chief Darren Blaney 250-203-2566