Skilled trades training extended to communities in Lake Manitoba and Sagkeeng First Nations

Red River College has launched two programs that move education outside of the traditional post-secondary setting and into remote Manitoba communities — helping Indigenous learners gain the tools they need to enter careers in carpentry, plumbing and other skilled trades.

One of the programs — the first to be delivered by RRC at Lake Manitoba First Nation — has allowed 15 students to work on completing their Level One Carpentry Apprenticeship training while at the same time helping to renovate local infrastructure in their community. The other program, delivered at Sagkeeng First Nation, provided an introduction to trades and plumbing skills via RRC’s mobile training labs (MTLs).

“These community-based training programs are an important example of how the College is helping create more pathways to post-secondary education for Indigenous learners in Manitoba,” says Rebecca Chartrand, RRC’s Executive Director of Indigenous Strategy.

“Classes like the one in Lake Manitoba First Nation provide learning opportunities to students who might not be able to access education otherwise. They allow students to remain in their homes and stay connected to family and other support systems, while receiving vital training and doing hands-on work in their community and the surrounding areas.”

Delivered in partnership with Apprenticeship Manitoba, the Lake Manitoba First Nation initiative is a 12-week program that combines theory, safety training and practical learning. It’s delivered in the industrial arts and shops space at the community’s own middle school. The College provides tools and equipment, and students are taught by an RRC instructor and journeyman carpenter.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands, so it’s been great to learn a trade that’s in demand everywhere, and to be able to complete this training right here at home,” says Kevin Choken (shown below), who was born and raised in Lake Manitoba First Nation, where he now lives with his wife and children.

KEvin Choekn, Lake Manitoba First Nation“It’s encouraging to gain experience using our training and problem-solving skills to find solutions for these projects. Carpentry is something I can see myself doing for the rest of my life, so I hope to continue my education and training in the future, and contribute to the renovations and development of my community.”

Lake Manitoba First Nation has been a key partner in the project, and hired students to work on renovation projects while completing apprenticeship training hours within the community. In recent months, students have conducted interior renovations, replacing windows and doors, and repairing roofs.

The program explores material sciences and trades training using hand and power tools and stationary machinery. The 15 students — including two young women — learned how to lay out buildings using a builder’s level, and how to mix and pour cement for slab work, walls and floors.

Once training is complete, students earn their Level One Carpentry certificate, which allows them to apply for carpentry work or pursue additional training in the future.

RRC’s mobile training labs go on the road every academic year to support the delivery of trades and classroom-based training to rural and northern Manitoba communities. The portability of the labs allows RRC to deliver nationally recognized trades training — including automotive, carpentry, electrical, machining, pipe fitting, plumbing, welding and industrial mechanics, based on the training needs of the specific community.

Each year, the College uses MTLs to support the community-based delivery of two five-month Introduction to Trades programs for rural and Indigenous learners. The program at Sagkeeng First Nation was completed in September, and the Pre-Employment Plumbing program — which wraps up in Spring 2018 — will be followed by Intro to Trades programs in Selkirk, Steinbach and Winkler in 2018 and 2019.

Learn more about the College’s Mobile Training Labs.