(R-L) Student Jared Bull accepts his first year completion certificate from ACDS executive director Vickie Wetchie before receiving congratulations and a gift from Montana First Nation’s director of social development Philip Dua and project manager for RDC Rhonda Stangeland.                                Photos by Jordie Dwyer

(R-L) Student Jared Bull accepts his first year completion certificate from ACDS executive director Vickie Wetchie before receiving congratulations and a gift from Montana First Nation’s director of social development Philip Dua and project manager for RDC Rhonda Stangeland. Photos by Jordie Dwyer

Montana First Nation continues with successful training program

First year apprenticeship welding program yielding great results for Montana and Maskwacis.

The Montana First Nation is continuing to build upon the success of its welding training project.

A total of 23 students went through graduation in a ceremony at the Montana First Nation band office on June 9 that recognized the completion of the students’ first year welding apprenticeship program.

This was the second class to go through the program hosted by the Montana First Nation’s non-profit Akamihk Community Development Society (ACDS). The program was run in partnership with Red Deer College (RDC) plus the provincial and federal governments.

“This group was fantastic and helped us really cement the lessons learned through our first class,” stated Vickie Wetchie, ACDS executive director.

“You all made it through, sticking together as a team and helping each other. It wasn’t easy to get to Red Deer or get out (to the band office) each day, but you made it happen.”

The students, all of whom hailed from the four First Nations that make up Maskwacis — Montana, Samson, Louis Bull, Ermineskin — as well as Flying Dust located near Meadow Lake, Sask.

As for RDC, this year’s program couldn’t have gone any better.

“At RDC, we couldn’t be more proud of the work you’ve done and the work of the group before you. You have been a tremendous example to the RDC community and shown RDC that community spirit,” Rod Holt, RDC associate dean of continuing education, said to those gathered at the ceremony.

“You have lived up to the reputation of the little nation that could. It has been absolutely wonderful to see all of you working so hard everyday and many of you have been rewarded on many levels. On behalf all of RDC, congratulations on achieving this first phase and good luck on the next phase.”

Regarding that next step, the students have been going through interviews with employers who will be hosting the work placements and Holt has been astounded at what he has heard so far.

“The feedback we have been getting from industry about the interviews on the co-op placements has shown this group has a tremendous level of responsibility, maturity and professionalism,” he said.

“Normally, we may get one saying that, but when six employers make a point to email or personally call to ask about the program — wow. What a difference and amazing group we have the opportunity to work with. You need to be proud of that and thank you for being who you are, for giving this effort. We are truly grateful for what you have done.”

Holt also presented one lucky student — Jason Merasty — drawn at random to receive an autographed Jordan Eberle Edmonton Oilers jersey, courtesy of one of the program’s industry partners WorleyParsonsCord.

The students were also congratulated by Montana Chief Darrel Strongman and those that support them received some inspiring word from Montana Coun. Ingrid Kelln.

“I want to acknowledge the support network that are part of the students’ success,” she said.

“Without them, where would anyone be? We all need that encouragement, since there is enough negativity in the world.”

Wetchie added it’s that team approach and looking at new, better, more efficient ways to deliver training program that has made this such a success that is helping not only the smallest First Nation at Maskwacis, but the entire population of Maskwacis.

Maskwacis