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Tlicho future in trades

Andrea Markey
Northern News Services

Rae-Edzo (Dec 05/05) - A new trades program for Tlicho students held its grand opening in Edzo recently to the praise of industry and elected and community leaders.

The 30-credit certificate Tlicho Trades and Technology Program, based in the Chief Jimmy Bruneau regional high school in Edzo, has more than 30 students registered since it began in August.

Courses cover both shop and classroom work including workplace safety, introduction to geology and prospecting, financial management, computer use and family dynamics.

With the demand for skilled labour only increasing in the years ahead, it is essential for the Tlicho communities to produce their own skilled labour to stay competitive, said Monfwi MLA Jackson Lafferty.

"This has always been a vision, now it is becoming a reality."

The program is a partnership between the Tlicho government, the NWT Mine Training Society, Diavik Diamond Mine and BHP Billiton.

It is becoming harder and harder to maintain hiring targets as more activity takes place in the North, said Roy Lenardon, vice-president of human resources and external affairs with BHP Billiton.

By 2007/08, there will be a 70 per cent chance of needing to hire someone from the south, he said.

"This program is just in its infancy, but is heading in the right direction," he said.

Students in the program said the location and course structure are two reasons they signed up.

Classes are offered in two-week sessions, allowing students to see progress very quickly, said Peter Maguire, department head of the trades program.

"Every two weeks we learn something new," said Frederick Zoe of Rae.

Zoe especially likes the financial management aspects of the courses and would like to pursue work with a mine once he earns his certificate.

Alison Chocolate, also from Rae, graduated from the high school in June and returned to the program in August.

She recently received the Governor General Award for Academic Excellence for holding the highest average in her Grade 11 and 12 classes.

Chocolate is interested in mining, especially environmental aspects of the industry, she said.

"Education got us into business and into negotiating land claims," said Ted Blondin, acting president of Behcho Ko Development Corporation. "This centre is just a stepping stone to many opportunities."