A new donation helps Indigenous students embark on new careers

Photo: Brian Carter, President, Seaspan Shipyards; Laurie Holland-Therrien, Manager, Corporate Training and Industry Services, BCIT School of Construction and the Environment; Jackie Jacob, Executive Director, BCIT Foundation; Andrea Hébert, Development Officer, BCIT Foundation; Jonathan Whitworth, CEO, Seaspan.

An impressive turnout of Seaspan employees came to hear the announcement.

BCIT is excited to announce a $300,000 donation from the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Seaspan, to fund trades training for Indigenous students. This funding will form the ‘Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation Open Arms Project’.

“BCIT is proud to support nearly 1,500 Indigenous students on their unique educational paths each year,” said BCIT President, Kathy Kinloch. “[This donation] will open doors to trades education programs for an additional 100 Indigenous students over the next three years.”

Supporting Indigenous students is a priority for BCIT. This fund will allow more Indigenous students to explore the trades. Applicants will be able to choose from a variety of programs at BCIT, such as the Trades Discovery program that provides students with hands-on experience in a variety of trade disciplines such as pipe-fitting, welding, marine fitting, heavy mechanics, fabrication, and electrical.

(Learn more about the history of the Trades Discovery Program here.)

Posing at BCIT’s recent ceremony to honour Indigenous graduates are Kory Wilson, Executive Director, Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships (L); Kathy Kunloch, President; Julia Strome, Indigenous Graduate and designer of the cedar paddle given out at the ceremony; Joanne Stone-Campbell, Coordinator, Indigenous Gathering Place.

This funding is part of Seaspan’s multi-year, multi-million dollar investment in the future of BC’s marine industries sector, and Seaspan’s Value Proposition obligations under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.

“Innovation, leadership and world-class trades training are critical components of our vision of driving Canada’s marine industrial base on the West Coast,” said Jonathan Whitworth,  the CEO of Seaspan. “This announcement demonstrates an unwavering investment in attracting, training and retaining the labour force and expertise we need to deliver on our NSS commitments.” You can read Seaspan’s full News Release here.

BCIT and Seaspan have been partnered in their commitment to train Indigenous students in this sector since 2003. That year, the partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding, a promise to train Indigenous students in the shipbuilding and repair sector of the marine industries.

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Open Arms Project will help the partners deliver on that commitment, and will help students embark on new careers.

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