Aug 6, 2015
Posted in: Uncategorized
Aboriginal Heavy Equipment Operator and Class 1A Pre-employment training is a program in the safe operation and maintenance of heavy machinery. At the end of the 13-week program, clients graduate with a Heavy Equipment Operator certification and Class 1A drivers’ license (HEO/Class A1). The program includes hands-on and practical training in the field, and classroom teaching at SIIT.
On July 24, 2015, friends, families, dignitaries and guests gathered at Wanuskewin Heritage Park to celebrate the presentation of certificates to ten graduates of the 2015 HEO/Class A1. Three of the graduates, Chris Mason, Cory Morissette, and Rachelle Pederson, are sponsored by Gabriel Dumont Institute Training and Employment, and work closely with Employment Counselor Dwayne Docken. The three were hired by the City of Saskatoon after completing the training.
Like many GDI programs, beyond statistics, are powerful testimonies of how the HEO/Class A1 program has changed the lives of the participants. Chris Mason had been playing music for a living before he heard about the HEO/Class A1 program. He got in touch with GDI Training and Employment and was accepted into the program. Chris thanks GDI for the opportunity and points out that the program was a major step in his quest to enter skilled trades. While he notes that career change will not be easy, Chris says he has always had interest on the trades and that he will be able to have a steady source of income.
Cory Morissette describes his experience in the HEO/Class A1 program as “Overwhelming, exciting, and enjoyable.” Before coming to GDI, Cory was looking for work without success. He says, “Now I have a certificate to prove my qualification and inspire myself and others, plus, I have a job!”
Like Chris and Cory, Rachelle Pederson is grateful for the opportunity to train in the HEO/Class A1 program. She believes that the program will open more doors for her. Rachelle previously worked as a school bus driver.
This is the sixth year of the program which is offered in partnership with the City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT), and the GDI Training and Employment. Among the speakers at the graduation ceremony were Mayor Don Atchison, GDI Training and Employment Director Lisa Wilson, SIIT President and CEO Riel Bellegarde, and Chief Felix Thomas of the Saskatoon Tribal Council. Daniel Sakwatamoo spoke on behalf of the graduates while Jodi Fick-Dryka of the City of Saskatoon was the emcee. Elder Oliver Cameron opened and closed the event with prayers.
The speakers noted that Aboriginal females are making inroads into the hitherto male-dominated trades including HEO training. They also noted the importance of partnership in delivering the program as well as employment opportunities that are available to graduates.
A total of 41 students have gone through the program. More than one half of the graduates have been hired by the City of Saskatoon.