Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School students welcome dignitaries to their school Thursday for a special announcement. Mark Brett/Western News

Minister visits PIB to announce training partnership

B.C. Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark was in Penticton Thursday

A small group of Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School students drummed a welcome for dignitaries attending a special ceremony on the school grounds, overlooking the traditional lands of the Syilx people Thursday.

Special guest was B.C. Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark, herself of Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway heritage as well as being the province’s first female Indigenous MLA.

She told the gathering her First Nation name, which, fittingly on this particular day, means: “Eagle that passes on to the next generation.”

The minister was in Penticton to announce the $700,000 funding of an aboriginal, community-based partnership training agreement between the Penticton Indian Band (PIB) and the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

There are about 30 students currently taking two programs: heavy equipment operator and environmental natural resources technologist.

Keloine Jack was one of two students who talked about the importance of their studies.

“Education has opened up limitless possibilities, especially for myself,” said Jack, a self-described nerd. “Taking the natural resources program is amazing. I get to learn how things work and how things come together. How grass grows, how trees grow.

“It’s like growing up with all the stories and all the legends and everything we were taught. Everything is connected on some certain level and now I get to learn that from a western standpoint.”

She added that her studies and being in the outdoors has been good for her mental health and she looks forward to one day helping others.

“Coming from this small community I’ve grown up true-spirited and my community has been nothing but loving and welcoming,” said Jack. “I hope that I get to share my experiences from these programs with other kids who are growing up in these (Outma) classrooms.”

Student Floyd Baptiste, who is in the heavy equipment operator program, agreed: “It’s opened up a profession that’s fun to do.

“I speak on behalf of these students behind me that we are very grateful for the opportunity and we are privileged to be in this course.”

According to the minister, those words are music to her ears.

“Everything that I do is about the 21st century. Lifting people up, opening doors, giving them opportunities. The students are going to do the heavy lifting,” said Mark.

“I heard students today talk about how proud they are, how good they are with their hands, how important it is for them to get that kind of western experience linked with their Indigenous knowledge to continue to be good stewards of the land.

“We know that that investment is going to pay off in the people by lifting people up.”

PIB education manager Kathy Pierre described the benefits of the program as “far-reaching,” especially being able to bring students together to learn in their own community.

“Our children are our future,” she said.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter

 

B.C. Advanced Education, Skills and Training Minister Melanie Mark speaks at a program announcement at Outma Sqilx’w Cultural School, Thursday. Mark Brett/Western News

Keloine Jack is one of the students in the environmental natural resources technician program. Mark Brett/Western News

Just Posted

Penticton woman to ‘load up the cart’ with toys for local hospital

Pascale-Ann Demers launched a GoFundMe to upgrade the toy supply at Penticton Regional Hospital

Cannery Brewing’s patio expansion plans delayed by COVID-19

Once open, the new patio will look quite different than originally planned

Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1

After nearly two months closure, playgrounds are set to reopen

Long-time South Okanagan principal retires, another takes the helm

Jeff Redden will start as principal of Naramata Elementary School in August

100 miles in 24 hours: a B.C. man’s mission to support the less fortunate

Merritt’s Darius Sam felt he needed to help his community after an encounter with a struggling woman

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Flood watch for Salmon River upgraded as high temperatures, rain forecast

Shuswap Emergency Program warns residents to prepare now for possible extreme flooding

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

RCMP request public’s help in locating missing Salmon Arm man

Ken Derkach is a familiar face to many, one of the city’s residents who is without a home

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Drunk man on a dirt bike and prohibited drivers without insurance keep Shuswap RCMP busy

Other calls resulted in excessive speed tickets and the arrests of two prohibited drivers

Most Read