A unique career opportunity is underway for a select group of First Nation students from the Columbia Valley.
Beginning on Tuesday (August 7) and continuing for the next 12 weeks, eight students in the College of the Rockies Introduction to Carpentry Continuing Education Program will complete the expansion of the Eva Joseph Family Centre and build an arbour structure at the Lakeshore Resort Campground as part of a new private-public partnership that aims to create a legacy of learning for the Akisqnuknik First Nation.
“This is a big project, it’s something that’s been looked at for quite some time,” said Akisqnuknik First Nation chief Lorne Shovar when he spoke to the crowd gathered at the centre on Tuesday where a special celebration honouring the students as well as the program’s various partners took place.
According to Akisqnuknik Development Corporation director Lillian Rose, the program sets the stage for future Akisqnuknik First Nation economic development because the students’ on-the-job training will prepare them to work on any future projects the development corporation is planning, such as upgrades to existing buildings and the eventual build out of a commercial park.
The enterprise, known as the Legacy Project and developed thanks to a partnership between the Akisqnuknik First Nation, the Akisqnuknik Development Corporation, the College of the Rockies (COTR) Invermere Campus and Fairmont Ridge Renovation, is estimated to cost $205,000, of which approximately $120,000 will be contributed by COTR while Akisqnuknik First Nation will make up most of the difference.
At the celebration, COTR president and CEO Dr. Nicholas Rubidge congratulated everyone who had helped make the Legacy Project come to fruition.
“It’s been part of our mandate to try and find ways to build partnerships and improve our relationships and keep on doing that with the Ktunaxa and I think this is a really great example of where the community needs and the education needs really fit really nicely together,” said Rubidge to the group. “In this particular case, we’re going to build something and it’s going to be here and it’s going to be something that you guys can be proud of every time you drive past.”
The Eva Joseph Family Centre, located on Highway 93/95 just south of the turn off to the Windermere Golf Course, has been in operation since 2007 and is home to both the Little Badger and Baby Badger early learning programs, which are based on the internationally-renowned Montessori curriculum. Due to the success of the centre, overcrowding has become a problem.
This was predicted early on, said Rose, so the expansion was worked into the centre’s original blueprints with the roof of the new classroom having been installed when the centre was first built.
The students will be working around the already-completed roof according to a pre-set design, but will have full creative reign when it comes to designing the arbour at the Lakeshore Resort Campground. Both the expansion and the arbour are on Akisqnuknik First Nation land and will be owned by the nation when done.
“From the board’s perspective, we are the College of the Rockies for all people for all things,” said COTR Board of Governors chair Orest Federko, also present at the celebration. “The project that is being demonstrated here today is really,
really speaks loudly as far as a community approach to something that is going to be here for decades to come.”
COTR Invermere campus manager Doug Clovechok thanked Rose for her vision and tenacity in helping get the program off the ground, and acknowledged Fairmont Ridge Renovation owner David Ridge and construction manager Cory Stuart for their invaluable contribution.
“Our resources are limited, not only is Dave going to be supervising the work from his company’s perspective but he also shaved off literally thousands and thousands of dollars in relationship to this project,” said Clovechok.
In addition to the hands-on experience, the students — four female, four male — will spend one day each week in the classroom learning theory and will have
certificates in safe chainsaw and skid-steer operations by the end of the