Aboriginal youth from Williams Lake and Columneetza secondary schools turned out today to take part in shaping their future. They participated in the first Opportunity Fair targeted at Tsilhqot'in Nation young people.
With the forestry industry in steady decline in BC's central interior and constant opposition to new investment in the region, there are not a whole lot of promising opportunities for young aboriginal people in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
(Photo: First Nations students attended an 'Opportunity Fair' with local businesses in Williams Lake. The event was the brainchild of Ervin Charleyboy, former chief of the Alexis Creek First Nation.)
"We needed to do something to help these young people out," says Ervin Charleyboy, former chief of the Alexis Creek First Nation and event organizer. "There's nothing out there for these kids, especially if we just keep saying no to everything that comes along that might actually create some jobs for them. We need to work with local businesses in a way that achieves a balance between keeping our culture alive and providing for our families."
Ambassadors from eight regional businesses representing different areas of industry addressed the students as a group, and then held one-to-one sessions to coordinate and extend real training and employment opportunities to participants.
"Taseko was proud to take part in Ervin's initiative today," said Brian Battison, VP of Corporate Affairs for Taseko Mines, a participant in the Opportunity Fair. "We've always believed that when you have open, respectful dialogue, good things follow. A collaborative effort that offers aboriginal youth a platform to explore real, tangible employment opportunities was something that we were very keen to support."
(Photo: First Nations students explore training and career opportunities with Williams Lake businesses.)
Businesses participating in the Youth Opportunity Fair include: Aqua Drilling Services, Beamac Installations, Cariboo GM, Taseko Mines, Brandt Tractor, D&S Electric, O-Netrix Solutions and Sprucelee Construction.
"When Ervin Charleyboy tasked local businesses with developing meaningful, skill-building opportunities for aboriginal youth, we jumped at the chance", says Mark Nairn, president of Beamac Installations, another event participant. "Industry in the Cariboo needs skilled, local workers to succeed. Events like the Opportunity Fair are an investment in the future of the region."
Today's Opportunity Fair was the first event hosted under the larger First Nations Youth Council initiative. The Youth Council is a volunteer organization of young people, mentored by Ervin Charleyboy, who are seeking to better their futures through work experience, job shadowing, education, and training. Ervin Charleyboy encourages youth interested in future Council initiatives to contact him directly. /CNW/
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