By Christine Añoneuvo
Pansy Wright-Simms, Education Coordinator, at the Office of Gitanmaax, has been busy for several months organizing and coordinating the eighth annual “Get Connected” Career Fair that takes place, tomorrow (Feb. 7) at the Gitanmaax Hall.
“The career fair provides an opportunity to assist our local citizens and First Nations in our surrounding communities to explore and make informed and educated, career choice decisions,” said Wright-Simms. “Due to our geographic location we do not have the luxury of having face-to-face encounters or interactions with service providers outside of our communities. Having the training institutions and potential regional employers readily available to respond to expressions of interest by members, provides a direct link or a window of opportunity for our members to consider their options around higher learning or to gain meaningful employment.”
The one day event, serves as a chance to meet educational institution representatives, funding and employment agencies, discover career opportunities and interact with potential employers.
Gitksan Wet’suwet’en Education Society, Gitxsan Development Corporation, Summit Camps, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 993, Pretivm Resources, Yellowhead Helicopters Ltd, Ledcor-Haisla Partnership Ltd., UA Piping Industry College of BC, Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Hy-Tech Drilling, Silverwood Natural Resources Consultants and Northern Health are some of the employers that will be accepting resumes from the general public.
The fair is centred around Gitxsan ideas of anahla’alst’, dim ant si’amhl, didils gyat, goliit’ lax ts’a, hee gal and lip gyat which translate to “jobs that provide a living, locally-based, hard-working and self-sufficiency”.
Leah Marshall, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at Coast Mountain College, Hazelton campus, has been participating and assisting with the career fair since its inception eight years ago.
She explains: “Prior to working together, each organization was setting up and running their own events, which would only attract maybe 10 to 20 people. It was difficult to invite agencies in to set up booths for the smaller events, they usually preferred large communities such as Terrace. However, transportation is a huge problem in the Northwest, and so we decided to pool our resources and work together. Today, we are attracting more employers, education institutions and funders to this event and the attendance ranges from between 400 to 900 people. We have been told by many that attend, that this is the best career fair that they have been to.”
Throughout the day, breakout sessions, in the form of workshops happen in the boardroom of the hall. Community members can get connected to employers, agencies and educational representatives.
Bev Busby with WorkBC-Hazelton has seven years of experience working with unemployed populations in the area.
“It is important to have employers, unions and schools showcased so that our local people get a cross section glimpse at what is out there and what types of work they might want to gear their training and efforts toward.” Busby said. “In our area, we tend toward entry level service industry or labourer employment. The upswing of mines allows for this type of employee, but also some more skilled and specialized positions.
“There is a market for health-related careers. We really need care aides, LPNs, nurses, X-ray technicians, lab technicians, ultra sound technicians, instrumentation technicians, pharmacy technicians, mental health clinicians and life skills workers. Forestry consultants are still going strong. LNG work is starting to roll, but what we see is housekeeper, kitchen and general labourers. Teachers and teacher’s aides are in demand here.”
Wright-Simms collaborates with a committee that includes Canada’s First Nations Radio-CFRN, Coast Mountain College, Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en and Unlocking Aboriginal Justice and other local organizations to provide community members with an event that has the potential to develop their career path whether they are in still in school, looking for a job, or looking to make a career change.
“I really value everyone’s time to make this event come together, as it has over the years,” she said. “Working together in unity and hope to assist our members to reach their highest potential or fulfilling one dream at a time. Through the efforts of many hands lifting, we are able to bridge gaps and empower members to dare to dream.”
The event is made possible through generous multi-level sponsorship. Although the fair is a one-day event, community members are encouraged to follow up with contacts or, if they are seeking more assistance, to contact Coast Mountain College-Hazelton Campus, Gitksan Wet’suwet’en Education Society, Upper Skeena Development Centre and Work-BC Hazelton.