Cameron Jack was 17 when he stepped into the carpentry shop at Okanagan College.
Two years and two levels of apprenticeship training later, Jack is inspiring others around him to follow in his footsteps while he continues down the path of a family member who inspired him.
A member of the Okanagan Indian Band, Jack is one of eight students who completed the Construction Craft Worker (CCW) 2 Aboriginal Journeyperson Preparation program last month. Jack and his peers were recognized in front of family, friends and community members at a ceremony in the Trades Complex Friday, Dec. 15, according to Okanagan College.
“For me, the highlight of the program has been seizing the opportunity to become a mentor,” he said. “I’ve been able to be a role model for some friends who are now going to the college for trades and culinary arts. I’m really proud I was able to inspire them to do that because the college has definitely made a difference in my life and I’m excited to see the impact it has on theirs as well.”
Jack and his fellow students represent seven distinct bands and First Nations from across Western Canada – from the Adams Lake Indian Band, Neskonlith Indian Band, Okanagan Indian Band, Ulkatcho First Nation and Westbank First Nation in B.C., all the way to the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan and the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba.
Graduating brought into focus for him a much longer tie to the trades within his family.
“My great grandfather built the house we live in by hand,” he said. “So it means a lot to me to be on the same path as he was.”
The 19-year-old won’t have to wait long to begin his new career. With both credentials under his toolbelt, Jack will start work with local construction company Wibco in the new year – a connection he made during his training in the fall.
The program was made possible through a partnership with BC Hydro and with support from the Okanagan Training and Development Council, Aboriginal Skills Employment & Training Services, Canadian Home Builders’ Association, New Relationship Trust, and Okanagan Kids Care Fund Society. The organizations provided tuition and books, tools, lunches, safety gear and transportation, meal allowances and accommodation, daycare support and living support for out-of-town students.
More information about the program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/ccwab.