Gabriel Dumont Institue


Joselyn Britton: GDI Apprenticeship Client Becomes a Red Seal Chef

Sep 1, 2015

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By James Oloo and Dwayne Docken

Joselyn Britton was featured in the 2012-2013 GDI Training and Employment Operations Report, and in the January 2014 Communicator. Joselyn joined the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Program under the previous federal Skills and Partnership Fund in 2012 as a Year II Apprentice Cook.

When we last spoke with Joselyn in 2014 about her experiences as a client in the then GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Initiative (under the previous federal Skills and Partnership Fund), she noted that “I enjoy my work, and have fun with what I am doing both at school and at [my workplace],” she said. She first heard about Gabriel Dumont Institute’s Training and Employment opportunities from her father Harvey Britton, who is the Vice President of the Métis local of Batoche. But her favourite part is the customers who come through the door. “It is such a good feeling when people leave the restaurant happy after having something that we made.” Joselyn then sated that her goal was to become a Red Seal-certified chef.

One of the key aspects of the program that Joselyn liked was that “unlike in many other trades where apprentices are often released from work for a block of time (usually up to a few weeks) to attend in-class training at an educational institution, in the culinary trade, in-class training usually involves attending school once a week.” This made it possible for Joselyn both hands-on cooking in the kitchen and the text book reality in the same week.”

Joselyn wrote her Red Seal exams in June 2015 and got the good news the following month that she had passed the exams. She says, “It still feels surreal!”

Most of the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project clients always say that their goal is to get Red Seal certification in their chosen trade. What is Red Seal certification? The Red Seal, which is short for Red Seal Interprovincial Program, is a universally recognized and very prestigious certification of apprenticeship in Canada. It is a recognition and endorsement of the skills and expertise that apprentices have acquired in a designated trade. The Red Seal is administered jointly by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Joselyn works at Wanuskewin Heritage Park as a sous chef. She describes her workplace as a “great place to work; it has spectacular views and a magnificent kitchen.” Joselyn says that she has a lot of freedom and flexibility to experiment with various foods and recipes. When we (@gdins_org) posted a tweet congratulating Joselyn on her Red Seal certification, Wanuskewin Heritage Park (@Wanuskewin_Park) responded by tweeting (Joselyn is one of our leaders and we are proud!), and the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trades Certification Commission (@SKApprentice) expressed its congratulations to Joselyn by tweeting “Fantastic!”

Joselyn thanks GDI and her Employment Counselor Dwayne Docken: “GDI has been very helpful.” She explains, “Our trade is unique in that we are not paid as much as other trades during the apprenticeship training.” She continues, “GDI helped me with tuition and cost of living. Quality kitchen knives and cutlery are essential but can be very expensive. I thank GDI for all the help.” Joselyn remembers that GDI gave her the encouragement that she needed.

Joselyn likes the fact that as a chef she has the opportunity to be self-critical. “When you taste your own food, you can learn quickly on how to improve.” Plus, the Saskatchewan restaurant industry offers great incentives for growth. There “are chef associations including the Canadian Culinary Federation – Saskatoon Branch, and the Saskatoon Chefs’ Association. The latter, for example, holds an annual Chefs’ Gala and Showcase. Chefs are able to enter into a number of competitions, showcase their work, and network with others.” Saskatchewan also offers numerous volunteer opportunities for chefs including the Saskatoon Zoo Foundation’s annual Zoo Gala.

She says that when she realizes that people enjoy her cooking, “it feels amazing and fulfilling to know that I make people happy in the most simplistic way.”

Joselyn enjoys her job and is happy to live her childhood dream of becoming the best cook she can be. She notes that even when at high school, she “always made my own food. I could not do pizza pops or junk foods. My parents instilled in me the love for cooking, and I thank them for that.” Joselyn hopes to someday own a restaurant.

Joselyn has an apprentice who works under her. Incidentally, the apprentice is in the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project. She asserts that, “while the kitchen is fast paced, we are still able to explain what we do, and why; and to be able to be effective mentors to the new (apprentices).”

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