The Kaska of southeast Yukon are gearing up for a development boom they predict will happen over the next few decades.
Last Saturday they held a job fair for industry, employers, education providers and funding providers in Watson Lake.
“It’s really about capacity development,” says organizer Frieda Campbell, of the Kaska Career and Development Centre. “There’s not a lot of knowledge here about what job opportunities are coming. What happens in a minesite? What happens when a pipeline goes through? What skills do we have to have to get the jobs? This fair helps answer those questions.”
The focus is on getting youth to investigate career options, so they were lured in with prizes (laptop computer, iPod, fishing gear) with a catch. They had to do a bit of homework at each booth – ask questions and write down the answers, like, “What is your drug policy?”
The United Association for Plumbing and Pipefitting was there to recruit aboriginal youth as apprentices. They offer a 16-week program in Fort St. John, usually paid for by either Indian Affairs or the Yukon’s Mine Training Association.
“We have a proven track record with the McLeod Lake Indian Band,” says the UA’s assistant business manager, Alex MacDonald.
“We trained seven youth and, yes, there were social issues they had to deal with, but it was a success.”
Meanwhile, the Liard Development Corporation envisions a better economy that will help them out of dependence on the federal government. General manager Alex Morrison is optimistic about the future.
“In the next few years, you are going to see lots of our people working. We don’t have a land claims and self-government agreement because we believe we are self-governing. We want to pay our own way.”