Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) and the Industry Training Authority (ITA) are teaming up to ensure Métis people get the trades training, sponsorships and apprenticeships they need to begin trades careers. The Métis Nation will also assist the ITA in identifying the specific barriers its community faces in succeeding in the trades.
The two groups have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that enables MNBC to strengthen employment opportunities for their communities, create an appropriate cultural approach to an apprenticeship pathway and experience, and support community members in obtaining certification in their trades.
“In a nutshell the agreement is about creating an opportunity for the Métis Nation of B.C. to become sponsors for apprentices and for them to share their indigenous culture with the ITA so that we can better understand the barriers to success for Métis people and others face in trades training,” said Michael Cameron, director of indigenous initiatives at ITA. “The big piece is the sponsorship, because what we find is that a lot of people, Métis and otherwise, have a lot of opportunities to do trades-related work, but not a lot of employers are willing to sponsor them, and sponsorship is really what gets them into their apprenticeship. The Métis now can do that for Metis people across B.C. – whether they are working in the Lower Mainland or on an LNG project or wherever. The opportunity is going to be there for them to work with different employers and have a sponsor.”
The MOU expands on MNBC’s priorities for creating employment opportunities and reflects its values in fostering partnerships and relationships. Providing apprentices with access to quality training and supports through to certification helps them obtain good-paying jobs and improves their standard of living.
Cameron explained that the province’s trades system currently employs approximately only 3,000 indigenous people despite having 38,000 apprentices. He believes more agreements and projects like this could help increase participation.
“We are already discussing ways we can support training Métis people across the province with some big projects we got going on, so I am sure some of those ideas will come to fruition,” said Cameron. “It is just a great time to be Indigenous and Métis in B.C.”
Clara Morin Dal Col, president of Métis Nation British Columbia, praised the MOU as a good step to ensure the specific needs of aspiring Métis tradespeople are being met.
“We want to make sure that our Métis people can finish the programs they start and that they can get the sponsorships needed to get apprenticeships,” she said. “Sponsorship is important because a lot of times they get to a certain part of they have nowhere else to go.”
She highlighted that the signing of the MOU ensures that Métis apprentices will always have access to a sponsor as they move through their trades training towards their Red Seal.
She added that it is up to the Métis to be proactive about solving problems.
“It is improving all the time and it is up to us to make sure that it has improved and to let people know we are here and what our needs are,” she said. “We can’t wait for anyone to knock on our door, we have to knock on theirs.”
In a press release Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark praised the benefits the partnership will bring.
“I believe there are immense benefits in government working together with Indigenous communities,” said Mark. “This memorandum is a powerful example of reconciliation in action and will lead to new pathways for Métis people to achieve good-paying family-supporting trades careers. I’m so proud that we are empowering Indigenous people to access the training opportunities they need to help us build the best B.C. while providing local employers the skilled workforce necessary to succeed and thrive in today’s economy.”