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Indigenous students get hands-on training during Tech and Trades Day

Skills Ontario, North Shore Tribal Council partner up to show Indigenous youth some potential career options during event at Sault College
Elementary and high school students from Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation learn about gear differentials during the Skills Ontario Trades and Tech Day at Sault College Friday. A partnership between Skills Ontario and the North Shore Tribal Council saw 65 students from seven north shore First Nations take part in the event. James Hopkin/SooToday

Indigenous elementary and high school students from seven northern Ontario First Nations received some hands-on training Friday during Skills Ontario's Trades and Tech Day at Sault College. 

Gordon Bennett, a staff member at Biidaaban Kinoomaagegamik in Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, says that the school brought a dozen elementary students and four high school students to the event, which provided students from Grades 6-10 with workshops on automotive, machine shop and computer applications.   

“We’re trying to broaden their horizons for college,” Bennett told SooToday. “And then, when they get to high school, they’re going to get into auto, woodworking, welding. That’s another choice for them.”

Ashley Pszeniczny, program manager for First Nations, Metis and Inuit initiatives program for Skills Ontario, told SooToday that the Tech and Trades Day at Sault College is the result of a partnership between Skills Ontario and the North Shore Tribal Council, which represents seven First Nations along the north shore of Lake Huron.  

“We host these events across the province to really reach out to our Indigenous youth in Ontario to promote the viable careers in skilled trades and technologies,” Pszeniczny said. 

Biidaaban students were in the automotive wing of the college Friday morning, learning about gear differentials with college instructors as Bennett looked on. 

“I’ve never had this opportunity myself when I was young,” he said. “I always tell them to take full advantage of it if it’s there – watch it, learn it and maybe someday you’ll love it.”

According to data from Skills Ontario, approximately 90 per cent of students who take part in Skills Ontario Tech and Trades Day events report being more interested in a skilled trade or technology career after participating in the program. 


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James Hopkin

About the Author: James Hopkin

James Hopkin is a reporter for SooToday in Sault Ste. Marie
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