The first graduates of the Indigenous Communities Public Works Technician Program, held on the Westbank First Nation. —Image: contributed

The first graduates of the Indigenous Communities Public Works Technician Program, held on the Westbank First Nation. —Image: contributed

Historic grad ceremony for Westbank First Nation technicians

14 Indigenous workers become first public works technicians in B.C.

The Okanagan Training and Development Council says an innovative pilot project has just wrapped up on Westbank First Nation lands and now there are 14 certified technicians employed in public works as a result.

The council says Indigenous communities have taken a major step towards self-sufficiency after the first ever public works technicians celebrated their graduation last Friday.

The 14 trainees graduated from the Indigenous Communities Public Works Technician Program, held on WFN land. All 14 graduates have gained employment thanks to the council and its partners.

According to Indigenous Public Works coordinator Brenden Moore, the technicians can now work anywhere in B.C., with their certification from the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C.

“These 14 public works technicians are the first in the country and they are Indigenous,” said Moore. “They now have a real career and job security.”

In July 2017, the unique program began in partnership with Service Canada, the WFN, the OTDC and ASTTBC, with the goal to provide formal training in the public works sector across B.C.

“This strategic partnership will provide post-secondary education training and certification in public works maintenance and operations,” said Joe Mocilac, director of development at the WFN.

“This program allows grads to embark on a career in a newly created industry recognized certification and allows greater work placement opportunities for Indigenous workers in the Okanagan.”

Due to the success of the program, it is being expanded to two other communities through ASTTBC, with the hopes to continue throughout BC.