A new program to help Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) members prepare for a career in education has been made possible through a grant from the provincial government and a partnership between Capilano University and the SIB.
The partners were able to access $161,602 in funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education to make the two-month pathways to education assistant program possible.
The funding was part of nearly $5.6 million awarded to 27 community-based education and training programs for Aboriginal learners around B.C.
The money is meant to "help Aboriginal learners develop job-related skills and build careers," according to a press release from the Ministry of Advanced Education.
The local program developed for that purpose will see 16 SIB participants complete all the prerequisites needed to get into the education assistant program between now and mid-March.
Students will be trained in things like first aid and CPR and get some hands-on experience using tablets, which are commonly used by education assistants.
"Another really important component of this is that we have a lot of really culturally relevant programming," said Jules Smith, Sechelt campus and program developer with Capilano University. "We have an Elder in residence who is helping shape how the program is developed, so through stories and through other culturally relevant activities."
At the end of the course students will be assisted with applying for admission into the education-assistant program, also run at Capilano University.
Education assistants work under the direction of classroom teachers to support children with special physical, learning or emotional needs.
"This is the first step towards getting SIB members certified as education assistants to work in our local school system," said SIB Chief Garry Feschuk. "We hope to be able to have several graduates employed in our schools and working with our children."
As another step toward that goal, Feschuk said the SIB is currently talking with Capilano University about running an education-assistant program on Band lands in the future.
Smith said that program could be ready to start next September.
"They've let us know that they have goals around the educational loop of their members," she said, praising the "strong partnership" the university has with the SIB.
"These kinds of programs allow us to partner and deliver the training that we're good at to meet their goals."
Feschuk said the SIB's main goal is to "make educational pathways accessible to our members.
"We are working hard to provide the best support network that we can for our children's educational journey and having SIB members as certified EAs (education assistants) working with our children will make a significant impact on that journey."
© Coast Reporter