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Witset First Nation welcomes construction foundation into community for indigenous skills workshop

The Construction Foundation of BC wrapped up a successful, four-day Indigenous Skills workshop in the community of Witset earlier this Spring. Participants in the community received virtual instruction from First Nations artist and Indigenous Catalyst Dean Heron once-per-week over the course of four weeks, en route to carving and completing their very own traditional Canoe Bowls.

Indigenous Skills workshops celebrate traditional skills of Indigenous peoples and combine that knowledge with contemporary skill sets that are currently used in the skilled trades. The Indigenous Skills workshops also incorporate the ‘9 Essential Skills’ of the trades: reading, document use, numeracy, writing, oral communication, working with others, thinking and computer use.

While there were a select number of students in the workshop that had previous carving experience, the activity of carving out a wooden bowl was a new experience for most.

“Most participants were brand new carvers,” said Heron. “A lot of them never had held a carving tool. Getting the opportunity to watch them make everything happen and seeing them complete their projects was pretty awesome. The really great thing that comes out of these workshops is how the students help one another finish things and sort out problems together.”

At the conclusion of the workshop, which was extended by an extra session to ensure that all participants had an opportunity to finish their Canoe Bowls, Heron noticed a spike in enthusiasm and participation among the group.

The virtual delivery method of the workshop was also a success, with Heron instructing remotely from Vancouver Island, while Witset participants joined online from their community.

“I recommend this project specifically and working with the Construction Foundation in general to all First Nation and other schools, and hope that we can continue to work with the Construction Foundation again in the future,” said Hildegarde Scholtz, Administrator/Instructor at Kyah Wiget Education Society Adult Education Center.

The Construction Foundation thanks Witset First Nation for the opportunity to present this workshop to their community and looks forward to returning for future workshops and activities. CFBC also thanks Forest Innovation Investment (FII) for their generous support of this initiative.

“Skills training programs for young people across B.C. are a critical component to ensure the health and future leadership of our forest industry,” read a statement on the workshop from FII. “The Construction Foundation of BC’s Indigenous Skills workshop meets this need by building competencies that are relevant to skilled trades in the construction sector within an engaging and culturally-authentic learning environment.”

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