Nine Nuu-chah-nulth people were joined by family and friends as they celebrated the completion of their Heavy Equipment Operator Program. The celebration was held at Port Alberni’s Lawn Bowling Club on November 9, 2023.
According to North Island College, the Heavy Equipment Operator Foundation and Level 1 Training program will prepare students for the road building industry. The students learn safe work practices, equipment knowledge, job control and environmental practices. Over the program they were introduced to heavy equipment like an articulated haul truck, loader, dozer, excavator and a grader.
Cynthia Dick, manager of the Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program, said the program, offered through the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s NETP and North Island College, was a popular one with several applicants.
“We selected 10 applicants who were dedicated and successful in the program,” said Dick.
The program was delivered in two parts: 95 hours of HEO Foundation (theory) training and 125 hours of HEO Level 1 technical training. The students completed several hours of classroom time as well as learning in the field during practicums with construction companies.
The HEO program readies its students for employment and NETP offers continued support to ensure the success of its graduates.
Nine students passed their tests and Dick said she heard nothing but glowing reports from the partners that delivered practical training to them.
“We are proud of each and every one of you and wish you success in your futures,” said Dick during the graduation.
She noted that all students passed the road-building part of their education, and all are certified in traffic control.
“The traffic control is another avenue of employment to pursue if that’s what you choose,” she told them.
The graduates of North Island College’s Foundation and Level 1 Heavy Equipment Operator program are Jordan Amos, Jayme Charleson, Greg Charlie Sr., Lisa Dick, Kristine Edgar, Katherine Frank, Nicholas Gus, Kollin Lloyd-Lipichuk and Stephen Mack.
Each student received gift packages from NETP and North Island College. Some took the opportunity to share their thoughts on the program.
“It was scary at first,” said Lisa Dick, but she was happy to report that it can be done.
Kristine Edgar also shared that she was really nervous in the beginning.
“But I’m glad that I stayed.”
She said there were very long days that proved to be very difficult.
“I’m excited to see where this course will take me,” she said.
Stephen Mack said he quit his job prior to enrolling in the course.
“But I’m happy to say I have a job, now,” he shared.
NETP will provide continued support to its graduates as they work on their heavy equipment operation hours to complete their certification.