Mining company, school partner for Nunavut trades training
“They can develop promising careers and be able to provide for their families”
Uluadluak is only 18, but she just finished making a purple-and-black parka for a friend.
The Baker Lake high school student also crochets, thanks to her mom’s fine instruction. But last week, she was a hairdresser.
“I like fixing people’s hair,” said the Grade 11 student, originally from Arviat. “My favourite part was learning how to braid. I learned two kinds of braids, a French braid and an African braid.”
Uluadluak was one of 70 Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School students from Grades 10 to 12 to participate April 25 to April 29 in TASK, or the Trades Awareness and Skills Knowledge week.
Now in its third year, the program gives kids a break from math and science for a week to experience what it would be like to work in a trade when they get older.
Last week, students got to choose from hairdressing, welding, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and culinary arts.
The TASK week is offered through a partnership between the school and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., which operates a gold mine about 110 kilometres north of Baker Lake.
The mining company provides most of the instructors although this year, Nunavut Arctic College also provided two. Those instructors are paired up with senior high school teachers to offer skills training and student evaluations.
“As a school, our goal is to get our students ready for post-secondary institutions and different programs and the mine was in need of deeper skilled labour pool in the region,” said Jonah Amitnaaq vice principal Chris Snow. So the partnership makes sense.
But the community at large benefits as well, Snow said.
“It benefits the region by getting a stronger skilled labour pool here. It helps local businesses, it helps community groups, but it also helps our youth. They can develop promising careers and be able to provide for their families,” Snow said.
“Whenever it comes to educating students, and trying to help shape students’ futures, encouraging them and providing them with opportunities, whenever a company does something like that, it’s not about PR. It’s about helping the local people and helping the territory.”
At least one Jonah Amitnaaq graduate, a woman, has gone on to work as an apprentice electrician for Agnico Eagle, Snow said.
She came back to Baker Lake last week to help present the electrical course to students and talk about her experiences, he said.
Students who complete the TASK workshop requirements earn a credit towards their high school diploma, Snow said.
And those who are in Grade 12 now have had an opportunity to test out three different trades. That kind of hands-on exposure is crucial for young people, Snow said.
“We’ve had some students who have really enjoyed welding, for instance, They can see themselves doing welding after graduation as a living. And we’ve had other students say they’d never do it again,” he said.
“So both types of information is valuable.”