Gitxaala Nation & Bird Construction: Introduction to Carpentry & Formwork Program
The BC Regional Council of Carpenters, together with Bird Construction and the Gitxaala Nation, JGC Fluor (the prime contractor for LNG Canada), and the Industry Training Authority, joined forces to develop an eight-week Introduction to Carpentry and Formwork Program that concluded on October 23, 2020. The program was designed to give Gitxaala Nation members the skills to become carpenter apprentices. Ten individuals, four of whom are women, successfully completed the program and are now employed with Bird on the LNG Canada (LNGC) project in Kitimat.
The program, delivered in Prince Rupert by BCRCC Red Seal carpenter instructors Mike Andrews and Kristine Byers, covered carpentry and formwork projects, the use of power tools, safety certification, and using materials specific to Bird’s LNGC scope of work. This partnership strongly aligns with BCRCC’s goals of working closely with industry stakeholders to provide a skilled and safety-conscious workforce and ensuring career and apprenticeship opportunities are available to Indigenous people, women, and other residents from the community.
The Carpentry Employers Association of BC supported the program with a generous contribution towards the tools required to conduct the training.
The program was built on a meaningful collaboration between industry, government, labour, and the Indigenous community. “This is a partnership the BCRCC is honored to be a part of and believes is a model that should be considered and relied on going forward,” says BCRCC president Mark Derton.
The BCRCC is committed to maintaining a 25% apprentice ratio on the LNGC project and is indenturing with the ITA those who successfully complete the program as carpenter apprentices. The BCRCC will provide sponsorship and support throughout their apprenticeships. A second cohort is scheduled in early spring 2021.
“I have taken trades courses a few times before, but I’ve never completed them until now! I never in my life would have seen myself as a carpenter even though my grandpa, my dad, my sister, and two of my brothers are amazing carpenters. Seeing this great opportunity put before me by Gitxaala and Bird, I jumped at it. Once I got into the hands-on part, I really enjoyed all the projects I was able to complete and to help my classmates complete. I’m very thankful to the instructors, Kristine Byers and Mike Andrews, Rebecca Kragnes from Bird, Evie Nance from the Gitxaala Continuous Learning Center, and anyone else that I have met throughout this course.” – Violet Walter, Graduate (photo 1)
“Unlike my boating license that I’ve only put to use for work a handful of times, or my environmental monitoring certification, this time, I’m actually going to be a part of the team! Four years from now, whether I stick with Bird Construction or am dispatched through the Union and continue to attend school every year, I will have my Red Seal Carpenter ticket. I’ve come a long way from being a drop-out teen mom and am excited to see where all the hard work I’ve done these past few months will take me.” – Patricia Lewis, Graduate (photo 2)