Generous $450K donation to help 100 Indigenous BCIT students embark on trades and tech careers

BCIT is pleased to announce a $450,000 donation from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Seaspan and SRY Rail, to fund trades and technology-related training for 100 Indigenous students. This funding will form the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Open Arms Project Expansion.

“We are very excited for this new donation in support of trades and technology training,” says Wayne Hand, Dean, School of Construction and the Environment. “This generous grant from the Washington Foundation will enable BCIT to deliver a wide range of training for high demand jobs to Indigenous students in their communities.”

Supporting Indigenous students is a priority for BCIT and reflects the institute’s commitment to building pathways for Indigenous learning. This grant will allow more Indigenous students at BCIT to gain trades and technology education by providing funds toward: tuition, supplies, and supplementary supports; participation in career exploration through the Introduction to Marine Trades for Indigenous Students program; and gaining experience through community-based skills training in Ecological Restoration or other trades training.

“The impact of the safety officer and fast track to safety training has had a deep impact on my life. My training in safety was non-existent and, as an Aboriginal person, my skill set was very low. With the help of my instructors, l was able to understand the importance of safety in the workplace and have brought forward several ideas to enhance buy-in to safety at my work. l am also part of the joint health and safety committee, which l feel confident in contributing to after my training and continuing to get safety buy-in from our team at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals. I am also seeking to continue my education with confidence and determination in other safety programs.” – BCIT student

Applicants will be able to choose from a variety of BCIT training areas including welding, metal fabrication, marine fitter, carpentry, piping, construction safety officer, and zero-emission building practices, and technology-related training such as ecological restoration, park ranger, industrial wood processing, water and wastewater operations, and mass timber construction.

Heiltsuk First Nation is very appreciative for the building envelope training we received from BCIT thanks to funding from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation,” says Leo Lawson, Capital Manager at Heiltsuk First Nation. “It was very timely, given our concentrated efforts to construct quality and energy efficient homes for our community. More importantly, it aligns with our ultimate goal for construction activities, and that is to reduce our carbon footprint. It is our intent to be proactive towards global warming prevention. We are utilizing the training and knowledge we received on 33 houses currently under construction in Bella Bella, BC. Thank you BCIT and to the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation! Giaxsixa (Thank you).”

This funding is an expansion of the 2016 Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Open Arms Project. The ongoing multi-year investment will benefit not only BCIT students but also the future of BC’s marine industries sector.

The initial donation of $300,000 from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation toward the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Open Arms Project in 2016 provided Indigenous students with increased access to trades-related training and directly impacted over 150 students in a variety of trades-related courses, workshops, and programs including: welding camps for youth, construction safety officer training, zero emission building training, marine fitter, welding foundation, and millwright foundation.

“Our vision of driving Canada’s marine industrial base on the West Coast requires the critical components of innovation, leadership, and world-class trades,” says Mark Lamarre, CEO of Seaspan Shipyards. “This donation demonstrates a commitment and investment in our long-term success, to attract, train and retain the labour force and expertise we need to deliver on our National Shipbuilding Strategy commitments.”

Read the Washington Foundation’s full news release.

BCIT and the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation have been partnered in their commitment to train Indigenous students in this sector since 2003. The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation Open Arms Project Expansion grant will help Indigenous students at BCIT embark on new, exciting careers in trades and technology.


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