On March 10, 11 and 12, more than 80 Mi’kmaw junior high and high school students from 12 Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia attended the inaugural Nova Scotia Aboriginal Youth Skilled Trades Fair at the Comfort Inn in Halifax. Over three days, students explored ten skilled trades and learned about their apprenticeship processes, and funding, education and training opportunities.
Students visited experiential skilled trades booths and spoke one-on-one with skilled tradespeople working in their respective fields. They learned about a typical workday on-the-job, and the necessary education and work experience that are required to launch a career.
Acadia First Nation Chief Deborah Robinson addressed the youth at the fair’s opening ceremonies, encouraging them to keep their eyes, ears, and minds open to every career possibility, and to take the time to network with others.
She stated Mi’kmaw are being more active and visible in our province’s economy, and that we need and want our people, now more than ever, to gain essential skills and give back to our communities.
“It’s our priority to equip our students with the right education, skills and training, so they can find good jobs, succeed in the workforce, and give back to their communities,” said Robinson. “This starts with giving junior high and high school students hands-on learning experiences, and access to information so they can make the right academic choices.”
Al Gould, a grade nine student at Eskasoni Middle School, said he was excited to learn that he could start getting his hours towards an electrician certification while in high school.
“My dad is an electrician and I’ve been watching and learning what he does since I was ten. I work with him in the summertime and I think it’s what I’d like to do as a career.”
Ann Sylliboy, Post Secondary Consultant at MK, and a member of the organizing committee for the trades fair, thanked the students for showing an interest in their future, their economy, and their communities.
“It was wonderful to see so many students actively participating in the demonstrations and asking questions.”
The event was made possible by ENCANA, the Nova Scotia Assembly of Chiefs, Nova Scotia Department of Education and provincial schools, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Native Council of Nova Scotia, Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and its schools, Mi’kmaq Project for Innovation and Collaboration, and Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office of Nova Scotia.