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Networking opportunities abound

Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) is continuing its search for networking opportunities with the Sunshine Coast business community.

Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) is continuing its search for networking opportunities with the Sunshine Coast business community. Monday's meeting at the SIB Hall brought together Sechelt elders and youth, the SIB education and employment departments, local business people and interested parties from off-Coast.

Band councillor Garry Feschuk led off the day's presentations with a rundown of the Band's accomplishments of the past year and the aspirations for the coming year.

Feschuk emphasized the importance of the elders and youth to the Sechelt people.

"We want to make it easier for the next generation to carry on. They are our future leaders," he explained.

This year has seen major expansions to the Tsain-Ko Mall. The second phase has been completed and only one space is available for lease. At present the Band is checking to see whether to continue with phase three.

The councillor gave some background into the Band's fight for a logging licence.

Originally applied for 130 years ago, the government of the day put a stop to the Sechelts' logging at Deserted Bay. "They sent a gun boat and turned on people to stop the protest [against the stopping of the logging]," added Feschuk.

The Band now has a second forest licence and Tsain-Ko Forest Products has been a huge success story in the past couple of years.

Feschuk said the next project slated is a concrete value-added mill. And the Band is currently working on their long-awaited cultural centre. The centre has been in the works for 12 years. It would include sports facilities, meeting room for elders and youths and a commercial kitchen for culinary arts training. The Band is hoping to break ground on the centre in May 2008.

Feschuk also spoke of the partnerships the Band has forged with power companies. "The money coming out of these projects is going into post-secondary education. Plutonic [one partner] has committed dollars for the language program," he said.

This year for the first time there were more students wanting to go on to secondary education than there were funds for them, both Feschuk and, later, speaker Susan Perry from the employment department, told the audience. The power companies filled the shortfall.

The Band is a member of the First Nations Employment Society along with nine other First Nations. The society is in turn a member of VanAsep Training Society. VanAsep is dedicated to building construction careers. The organization is a partnership between First Nations, Métis, Aboriginal employment services agencies and the construction industry. VanAsep provides training and job coaching, a combination that has proven effective in training and retaining young workers in a burgeoning field. Employers or youth wanting more information about their services can call 1-604-294-5448 or email

The SIB employment department helps its members in many practical ways including preparing resumes, developing interview skills, career planning, travel costs, clothing costs and polishing life skills.

The department also helps budding entrepreneurs with business plans, start-up costs, equipment and advertising.

Ongoing skills and training include first aid, Food Safe, insurance, Class 1 and 3 drivers' licences, security guard and apprenticeships.

Other highlights of the morning included a fascinating history lesson from anthropologist and teacher Candace Campo and information from the education department head Lenora Joe.

The morning session ended with entertainment from the Xwamtsut Dance Group and a networking lunch.

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