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For Immediate Release
March 15, 2012
Smithers – Northwest Community College’s (NWCC) award-winning School of Exploration & Mining (SEM) is poised to share its training expertise with the Inuit People of Quebec’s far north as a result of presenting at a minerals exploration forum there last month.
Tony Harris, SEM’s Employment Advisor & Industry Liaison, attended the Nunavik Mineral Exploration Conference in Kuujjuaq from February 14 – 17. At the event, he talked about NWCC’s School of Exploration & Mining hands-on and culturally sensitive training techniques and in particular, its Workforce Exploration Skills Training (WEST) program.”The presentation was met with enthusiasm from members of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) the Village Elders, industry stakeholders and other conference attendees. They were impressed with the teaching model used by Northwest Community College and could visualize using it in the Nunavik region,” said Harris.
As in Northwest BC, major projects and thousands of jobs are coming to the area, yet a shortfall of skilled workers has been projected.
“That means, similar to here in Northern BC, by training local residents such as the Inuit for those jobs, there’s a real opportunity to ramp up capacity and increase benefits to the region,” Harris said.
Margaret Gauvin, KRG’s Director of the Sustainable Employment Department, said “We are hoping to set up a similar program for Inuit here in Nunavik. We will be visiting SEM this summer to see the program working, and hope that a collaboration between the NWCC and KRG will result.
She continued, ”Training young persons about exploration and mining through an experience on the land is the way it should be done. Hands on experience, certification, cultural learning, with the help of experienced trainers and counselors – that’s a winning combination.”
Most presenters at the Kuujjuaq Mineral Exploration Conference were major mining and exploration companies speaking about their work in the area. Attendees included the general public, delegates from 13 outlying villages, and members of the Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corporation, which supported Harris’ trip to the conference.
Harris was the last speaker at the conference; as a result of plane troubles, he missed his original time slot and almost didn’t get to speak.
“This turned out to be a blessing,” he said. “It ended the conference on a positive subject that everyone could support. The projects planned for the Nunavik region through Québec’s Plan Nord are staggering and though locals are keen for work, they have some concerns about social and environmental impacts.”
In partnership with Smithers Exploration Group and the Province of BC, SEM develops industry-related courses and programs, and offers training in various areas of mining and exploration. Since its inception in 2004, the school has graduated more than 850 students, and 83 percent of grads have either found work or returned to school.
Through workforce training for the exploration, mining and natural resource industries, Northwest Community College’s School of Exploration & Mining seeks to build capacity and engagement in communities involved with minerals exploration and other resource development.
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Northwest Community College
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