Student Trevor Johnson working in the carpentry shop at CMTN’s Terrace campus during the two-week hands-on portion of Carpentry Level 1.
Terrace, BC – Coast Mountain College (CMTN) recently partnered with Contact North BC to offer Carpentry Apprenticeship Level 1 as a pilot program for delivering Trades training in a combined online and in-person format. Six students from the communities of Gitanyow, Gitwangak, Hazelton, Lax Kw’alaams, Kitsumkalum, and Topley started their training online from their local Contact North BC learning centres, and then completed the hands-on portion during a two-week stay at the CMTN Terrace campus.
The program was free for students. CMTN covered tuition costs, toolkits, and learning resources, as well as travel, meals, and accommodation during the two week on-campus portion of the course.
Skilled tradespeople are in high demand across BC, and this blended delivery for Carpentry Apprenticeship Level 1 is a new way to bring skills training in Trades to people living in smaller communities in Northwest BC. People don’t need to leave their home communities for long periods of time to get the training they need to further their careers.
CMTN Carpentry Instructor Brad Sousa shares his thoughts on the success of the program:
“Contact North BC provided a fantastic opportunity to connect with students from many different communities, each bringing their own unique perspectives and experiences to our learning community. The students faced and overcame the challenges of adapting to the digital realm while not losing sight of the connections made from the hands-on learning to the online materials, and back to real-world scenarios. It has been a rewarding experience to witness students’ growth and success, in the shop and from a distance."
Student Trevor Johnson, from Gitanyow, says the students in the class have been very supportive, helping each other out when they see someone struggling.
“We started out as a class, but now it feels like we are more of a crew,” he says. “It’s been great to meet other people [from different communities].”
The students already have apprenticeships lined up in their home communities, thanks in part to Skilled Trades BC, which provided support to the communities and students to get them registered as apprentices and write their invigilated exams at the Contact North BC or Service BC centres nearest them.
“This has been a great pilot project and an amazing group of students, all bundled up with an amazing and dedicated instructor…. This is something we are hoping to offer more of in the future,” says Shauna Stach, Lead Hand in Trades at CMTN.
CMTN and Contact North BC will offer Carpentry Apprenticeship Level 2 in the same format in Spring 2024 to allow these students to continue their progression towards a Red Seal Designation.
Coast Mountain College and Contact North BC
Contact North BC, a collaboration between Coast Mountain College and Indigenous communities in Northwest BC, was created with the goal of expanding access to post-secondary education for Indigenous students living in remote and rural areas.
CMTN and its First Nations Council identified the opportunity for the Government of British Columbia to offer a project similar to Ontario’s provincially-funded online learning support organization, Contact North/Nord.
Now in its fourth year, the Contact North BC program has 22 established learning centres in 22 communities across Northwest BC to support local residents to participate in online and distance education programs and courses without having to leave their communities. Students can access a host of support services at each learning centre, provided by trained staff, and enroll in online courses offered by publicly funded post-secondary institutions, and community-based training offered through training institutes in BC.
Executive Director, External Relations