Nearly 80 Indigenous elementary students from across the north shore got some hands-on trades experience at Sault College on Friday.
‘Trades & Tech Day’ - a collaborative effort between the college, Skills Ontario and the North Shore Tribal Council, which represents seven First Nations along Lake Huron’s north shore - saw students from grades six to eight participate in workshops and take a tour of the college campus.
“They get excited when they come to career fairs, it’s a good time,” said Bryan Assinewe, grade 8 teacher at Biidaaban Kinoomaagegamik in Sagamok Anishnawbek. “They get out of the classroom, they see what technology is out there they want to get into. They love it.”
Marnie Yourchuk, education program manager with the North Shore Tribal Council, says the trades and tech day program is now in its fourth year. Some of the students in attendance for this year’s event have been to all four of the events, taking in workshops ranging from aviation, construction and nursing.
This year, students took in workshops based on geographical information systems, culinary arts, and outdoor studies.
“That’s why the First Nations chose the grade six to grade eight,” said Yourchuk. “It does give them that opportunity to explore before they have to make those high school choices in courses, and it does help them along that career path.”
Yourchuk looks over at a group of students in the culinary kitchen, as they prepare to drop the mexican egg rolls they’ve prepared into a deep fryer as part of their morning workshop.
“When you actually start trying it and you’re using your hands-on experience, it really brings that alive, and it’s not words on a paper,” Yourchuk said. “They’re living the experience, and they get a chance to decide whether or not this is something that piques their interest, and then they can explore it a little bit further.”