The Quesnel Tillicum Society and Native Friendship Centre said it has been blessed to receive the Community Workforce Response Grant to provide the Key to Employment-Wildfire Firefighting program. (Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre Facebook photo)

The Quesnel Tillicum Society and Native Friendship Centre said it has been blessed to receive the Community Workforce Response Grant to provide the Key to Employment-Wildfire Firefighting program. (Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre Facebook photo)

Wildfire firefighters ready for action after completing employment training

Date of graduation ceremony for second cohort not yet determined

New Indigenous firefighters are ready to work to keep B.C. safe from wildfires after finishing a seven-week training program in Quesnel.

The Quesnel Tillicum Society and Native Friendship Centre celebrated the graduation of its first cohort of students from the Key to Employment-Wildfire Firefighting program.

“This great group of students really grew together to become an incredible team and will be a great asset to any company that is hiring for wildfire firefighters,” read a Facebook post shared Wednesday, April 21.

“Everyone at Quesnel Tillicum Society is incredibly proud of you guys.”

A cake was cut at a small ceremony held Monday, April 19 for Amanda Pierre, Dyllan Vardy, Norman Jeff, Cole Williams, Gordon Johnson, Robert Munch, Dalton Starr, Keanu Starr and Shianna Prince.

After 5 weeks of Key to Employment training and 2 weeks of Wildfire Firefighting training we are…

Posted by Quesnel Tillicum Society Friendship Centre on Wednesday, April 21, 2021

For five weeks starting Monday, March 1 at the Friendship Centre, the students learned communication styles, techniques to manage anxiety, resume building and more by the Indigenous Community for Leadership and Development. Cultural teachings were also included with students being taught traditional songs and storytelling and learning from an elder how to make a drum and dreamcatcher as well as leather bracelets and pouches.

After completing the Key to Employment course, students were sent to the College of New Caledonia (CNC) campus for their wildfire firefighting tickets.

Each student received workboots, PPE, gloves, hi-visibility vests and hard hats compliments of CNC. Chris Stultz of Jeans Catering provided hot meals, and on the weekends, students also received gift certificates for Save-On-Foods and gas cards or bus passes.

The Key to Employment-Wildfire Firefighting program was made possible through a $300,000 Community Workforce Response Grant which provided students with work clothes consisting of one work jacket, long sleeve shirt and pants.

Due to COVID-19, the program for up 20 students 15-years and older was split into two cohorts.

The second cohort is anticipated to complete the program by May 28.

Read More: Federal grant will help train Quesnel wildfire firefighters

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