North Island College Carpentry Level One graduates celebrate at the Tin Wis on Jan. 24. Most of the students will move on to Level Two of the construction program in the spring. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations earn carpentry certification

“They’ve done extremely well with the hands on learning as well as the theory.”

Ten Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations students were honoured on Jan.24 at the Best Western Tin Wins for passing the North Island College (NIC) Red Seal Carpentry Level One course.

The construction program included cultural support from elder Moy Sutherland Sr. and Chris Seitcher and over 120-hours of technical training with carpentry instructor Andrew MacLeod.

“Education is always important,” said elder Sutherland Sr. “I know that the class had a lot of humour,” said Seitcher. “I like the fact that we are from different Nations, but were able to come together and work together to achieve the same goal.”

Tla-o-qui-aht Education Manager Iris Frank was notably teary-eyed and proud while watching the students accept their certificates.

“[Skilled Carpentry] is a gap that exists in all of our communities on the West Coast, Ucluelet First Nation, Tla-o-qui-aht, and Ahousaht. So when we did this program we opened it up to the West Coast. Anybody was able to apply to be part of this program,” said Frank, adding that the program was funded by a grant through the Ministry of Education.

MacLeod said he would return to guide the First Nations students through phase two of the four-phase carpentry program.

“All are exceptional at what they’ve done. It’s a huge completion. A lot of dedication. They’ve done extremely well with the hands on learning as well as the theory,” said MacLeod.

“In my opinion these students are fully ready to get into a carpentry position. They would be a good asset to have on any workforce,” he said.

Phase one of the carpentry program involved constructing a 28 by 32 feet shop area on Ty-Histanis.

“The math was the hardest part,” said graduate Seymour Seitcher. “Getting the roofing formula all done and stair formulas was hard, but getting around to it, especially if you had a calculator, was pretty good.”

Fellow graduate Curtis Dick agreed that the math was the most challenging part. He said he liked getting his hands on the tools right away and working with cedar the most.

“I’m happy to see my family come from Ahousaht and show their support,” Dick said at the graduation ceremony. “I’d just like to thank our instructors for passing on their knowledge to the students.”

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