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Indigenous youth camp sparks interest in welding

On , In College News, People & Culture, Reconciliation

When Shawnacy Emde first stepped into the welding booth at the Northern Lights College Trades Training Centre, she was a little nervous. The Grade 11 student had never experienced holding fire in her hands, so to speak.

“I was kinda scared of the gun and the fire, because it kind of just shot out,” she said. “I didn’t know how to control it properly, so that scared me.”

However, with some tips from instructors Gavin Scorer and Andy Bond, Shawnacy overcame her fears and discovered she loved playing with fire. So much so that after hearing a presentation from a guest speaker from Silverback Industries and speaking with them, she was offered a job, starting the following Tuesday. She also signed up for the NLC Youth Exploring Trades Sampler program starting in September.

Shawnacy was among a group of 16 Indigenous youth that got to learn how to weld in the Northern Lights College welding shop this week. The Arx and Sparx Welding Camp is a partnership between NLC Continuing Education, Coastal Gaslink, LNG Canada, and CWB Welding Foundation. It’s meant to give teens the chance to experience a hands-on trade like welding that they may not normally have the chance to try out.

The camp teaches the basics of making a clean weld and the students make several little projects that they get to keep, hopefully sparking the interest in welding. A large part of the camp happened outside the shop, where the students listened to teachings from Cree Elder Malcolm Supernault before getting their gear on.

Malcolm shared stories about the significance of animals to Indigenous culture, like the bear, beaver, turtle, wolf, and even sasquatch. He also shared the importance of courage, wisdom, trust, and love in a person’s life.

Gavin Scorer, who leads the camp on behalf of CWB Welding Foundation, was very pleased with how the students did during the week. He said having Malcolm as part of the camp, as well as presentations from a number of Indigenous companies really made it a successful event.

The camp wrapped up with a barbecue and a visit from parents, who got to see all the cool things their kids made.