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Heavy equipment training program coming to Tahltan First Nation

Program hopes to remove barriers preventing Tahltans from accessing in-territory employment

The Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) is partnering with the Tahltan Central Government, a number of industry partners, and the Province of B.C. to establish a heavy equipment operator training program for Tahltan.

Tahltan Territory is home to roughly 70 per cent of B.C.’s Golden Triangle, an historically resource-rich area in the northwest. In addition, the territory includes two of the 10 operating metal mines in B.C., Red Chris and Brucejack.

Carol Danielson, a member of the Tahltan First Nation and chair of the TNDC’s board of directors said the project has immense performance for the Nation.

“We’ve done apprenticeship programs right from the start,” said Danielson. “If somebody wanted to go out and get training, whatever it might be, we’ve always had that within our mandate.

“Because the Tahltan Central Government also has a really strong mandate for education, we kind of said, ‘look, we’ve all been doing our own things separately, so why not combine our efforts and make a really nice big program, bring in trainers into the area rather than our people going outside to Terrace, or Prince George, or Kelowna and Kamloops for their training?’”

Someone from the Tahltan First Nation looking to take this training only needs their valid Class 5 or Class 7 driver’s licence to get their foot in the door and support will be given to anyone who is looking to get those licences. Program leaders will also assist individuals in the process of acquiring the licencing they need to operate many different types of mining equipment, depending on where the student is looking to focus their efforts.

The curriculum aligns with SkilledTradesBC learning objectives, as well as the Mining in HR council common competencies. There will be a mixture of workplace safety training, underground mining fundamentals, four weeks of heavy equipment operation training, and at least 140 hours of hands-on training over three years. Those hours of hands-on training include placement as an apprentice with an industry partner in Tahltan territory.

Not only will the program feature hands-on training in a mining camp environment, but Danielson said they are looking at the possibility of remote training using virtual reality; although that remains only a possibility for now.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity this course will create for Tahltans wishing to pursue a career that allows them to be training in Tahltan Territory and encourages them to use their skills in our communities after completion,” said Chad Norman Day, the TCG’s president in a press release.

“I have repeatedly emphasized that for there to be world-class mining in our territory, there is a need for world-class wildlife stewardship, but in addition to this, world-class mining cannot exist in Tahltan Territory without Tahltans being included in the workforce. We support breaking down any barriers that have traditionally prevented our members from accessing employment opportunities.”

In addition to this program, Danielson hopes to see more training programs offered to Tahltans in the future.

“There’s a lot of other areas that we want to focus on,” said Danielson. “Office skills, management, engineering, the sky’s the limit.”

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