Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Mark Brett/Western News photo

Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Mark Brett/Western News photo

Students get skills training for careers at Penticton Indian Band

More than 30 students are enrolled in two new programs being offered at the Penticton Indian Band

The Penticton Indian Band is partnering with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) to bring two programs to its community: heavy equipment operators (HEO) foundations training and an environmental natural resources technician certificate.

More than 30 Indigenous learners from Penticton Indian Band and surrounding areas will have a chance to enroll in the programs.

“This agreement is not only important for our community, but for developers with projects in sensitive ecosystems and historical areas of interest,” said Chad Eneas, Chief of the Penticton Indian Band. “We want better employment prospects for our First Nations youth and the opportunity to integrate our Syilx worldview into curriculum. Providing our students with the specialized skills around the ethical treatment of artifacts and/or remains unearthed in development will enhance employability and put reconciliation into action.”

The $701,000 in funding to run the programs over two years is provided as part of the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program.

“Partnerships like this break down barriers because they allow learners to access post-secondary education in their own community,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We’re making education and training more accessible, honouring the needs of Indigenous communities and ensuring all students have the expertise they need to help build B.C.’s thriving economy.”

Fifteen students are planning to take the HEO course this year, which will give them the skills and certificates needed to operate heavy machinery. This includes excavators, rock trucks and graders used in sectors like construction, road building and mining. Sixteen students are taking the environmental natural resources technician certificate program and will learn classroom and field fundamentals to work in disciplines including forestry, fisheries, wildlife and environmental monitoring.

“NVIT is pleased to partner with Penticton Indian Band (PIB) to be the post-secondary provider for the community-based delivery of both the Heavy Equipment Operator and Environmental Natural Resource programs at PIB,” said Ken Tourand, president of NVIT. “This is an example of NVIT’s commitment to Indigenous education and a testament to the importance of meaningful and respectful collaboration. As a team, NVIT and PIB have come together to provide in-community opportunities to advance the training priorities identified by PIB for their local community.”

The Penticton Indian Band is one of more than 40 communities throughout B.C. is benefitting from the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program. The program is providing $9.28 million in 2018 to support the delivery of in-community education and training programs.

The program funding is provided by the ministry and the Canada-B.C. Workforce Development Agreement. It is part of the government’s ongoing commitment to invest in the people of B.C. and move forward with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. This includes developing culturally appropriate curricula and fostering a government-to-government relationship and self-determination, helping to create an inclusive, sustainable 21st-century economy that works for everyone.