If you are Indigenous and have ever thought about a career in the trades, upcoming programs with the Nexw7áýstwaý (Training and Trades Centre) may be right for you.
The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) centre's upcoming programs are open to Nation members and anyone who is First Nations, non-status, Metis or Inuit.
The next slate of courses at the centre, which is located on Nation traditional territory in North Vancouver, include: Carpentry Level 1, which starts on Jan. 30 and runs through Jun. 2; Advanced Project Management, which runs from Jan. 30 to mid-April, and Women in Trades, which is held from Feb. 20 through mid-May.
The course for women exposes students to six different trades over six weeks.
"It's a great way for Indigenous women to come to a place where they can feel safe, and learn with their peers — people of like mind — and not feel intimidated," said Training and Trades Centre manager Milissa Lewis.
"This is really aligning with our Squamish Nation strategic plan. ... We are providing an opportunity for, one, Squamish Nation members and other Indigenous students to be able to gain training and further education."
The Nation offers eligible applicants free tuition, transportation, a child care subsidy, a meal plan and a training allowance.
A Nation student support specialist is available to the students throughout and helps find a work placement that is a good fit for the potential employee and employer.
"We don't want to send our women into the trades, and then them feel that they're no longer safe," Lewis said.
The goal of the placements is that the students will be hired by those employers.
When there are jobs on traditional territories, the goal is for Indigenous folks to be hired, she said.
There is no question that there are jobs in trades for skilled workers these days.
According to a recent Statistics Canada report, recruiting new employees was expected to be a challenge for almost half of Canadian construction employers.
When The Squamish Chief spoke with Natalie Perreault, program manager for the Sea to Sky earlier this month, she said Sea to Sky construction companies were "screaming" for skilled trades.
The programs begin with a one-week Sḵwx̱wú7mesh cultural component.
"It's a really great opportunity for the students who can reconnect [to their culture]," said Lewis.
"We have individuals that have no connection because of, you know, just for a variety of reasons. And so they may not have that connection, so it's really nice to be able to offer it. "
There is storytelling, singing and drumming, for example, she said.
Like Lewis — who lives in Squamish and is a Nation member — those running the program are Indigenous.
"So there's so many layers of what we're doing and how we're supporting each and every student who comes and walks through that door," she said.
The courses are accredited, meaning they can be used as credits toward other post-secondary programs.
Ultimately, Lewis said the goal is that the centre will offer start-to-finish trades training and education.