Trey Lightening tries out an acetylene torch at the West Fraser sawmill. Ronan O’Doherty photo

Trades Day at West Fraser saw mill opens student eyes to career possibilities

COFI and West Fraser put on the one-day event for 15 Quesnel students

Fifteen students from Correlieu Secondary School (CSS) had an opportunity to gain hands-on experience at West Fraser’s Quesnel sawmill on Thursday (Feb. 21) thanks to a partnership between the school, West Fraser and the B.C. Council of Forest Industries (COFI).

The students spent the day rotating between one of five workstations, where they learned about welding, millwright work, electrical, quality control and saw filing.

The outing is beneficial for the students, as they get a taste for a variety of jobs, as well as an idea of what the environment is like at Quesnel’s largest employer.

“The level of engagement, enthusiasm, interest and passion is very high with these kids,” said Jim Costley, manager of forest education for COFI.

“They’re having a really good time learning about the opportunities that are in the forest industry.”

Costley is in charge of similar programs throughout the Interior, working with a variety of forestry firms and secondary schools in places like Houston, Smithers, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof and Prince George to keep the interest in the forestry industry high for the next generation of potential employees.

“Fifty per cent of our labour force is going to retire in the next 10 years,” said Costley. “So there are opportunities in a number of different fields.

“This program is giving them a snapshot of what it’s like to do these jobs.”

While the majority of work was done off of the main production floor, so the risks were minimal, for West Fraser maintenance superintendent Mike Lefebvre, safety was a top concern.

“We made sure to go over it all ahead of time,” he said. “We shared our safety standards with them in advance, and the first thing they did when they got on site was have a safety orientation where we went over a safety list. So far, they’ve been really good.”

Sheryl MacFarlane, a career prep teacher at CSS, said the hands-on aspect of the training was the best part for the students.

“It’s awesome as they actually get to do the activities, so they know right away if they find it interesting and can then pursue it as a possible career choice.”

She added the West Fraser employees were terrific hosts.

“They have been just incredible,” said MacFarlane. “They are answering questions, showing what they do and offering opportunities for the students to get right in there and be involved.”

For those who show a great degree of interest, COFI offers 10 $1,500 post-secondary scholarships in fields of study like forestry, science, trades, and business that lead to careers in the forest industry.

Costley said they will help students who attend the programs to apply for the scholarships.

For more information and to apply to the scholarships, go to

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Prince George RCMP is asking for the public’s help to find 29-year-old Colin Michaud Durrand. He has a history of violence and is considered to pose an increased risk to public safety, according to police, who advise the public not to confront Durrand if he is located. (Photo Submitted by RCMP)
Prince George RCMP ask for help locating violent ‘priority offender’ with ties to Quesnel

RCMP says Colin Michaud Durrand, 29, recently lived in Quesnel but may frequent Hixon, Prince George

The outhouse at the Milburn Lake Public Access after the Oct. 17 work bee. Pictured here, from left, are Bouchie Lake Watershed Stewardship Society volunteers Doug Nielsen, Dan Aussant, Richard Armstrong and Bob Ross. (Photo Submitted)
Volunteers fix foundation of Milburn Lake Public Access outhouse

The Bouchie Lake Watershed Stewardship Society recently held a work bee at the site

An air cadet and RCMP officer stand guard over Quesnel’s Cenotaph during the 2019 Remembrance Day ceremonies. The COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled all public memorial ceremonies set for Nov. 11. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel Remembrance Day ceremonies on hold for 2020

There will be no public event, but residents are encouraged to observe two minutes of silence

Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom, School District 28 board chair Dave Chapman and Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson plant ceremonial shovels into the ground at what will become Quesnel’s newest school during a ceremony Tuesday, Oct. 20. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Construction begins on new Quesnel Junior School

A groundbreaking ceremony was held to kick off the two-year project

B.C. Conservative Leader Trevor Bolin and Cariboo North candidate Kyle Townsend were practising proper physical distancing during a campaign stop in Quesnel on Saturday, Oct. 17. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Bolin first party leader to visit Quesnel

The B.C. Conservative Pary’s leader made the stop to support Kyle Townsend

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
2 years after huge highway acid spill, Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Most Read