Nine Indigenous students have graduated from the Heavy Equipment Operator program at Assiniboine Community College.

The program was made possible through a partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

“Taking the program meant that I had a great opportunity to create a better future for myself and my family,” said graduate Kayla Bialkoski. “It gave me a moment to represent our people in a positive light and break stereotypes. It gave me a chance to be more than a stay-at-home mom. Taking this program as a woman also inspired me to reach out to other women and show them they too can have equal opportunity.”

The program was taught at the college’s Victoria Avenue East campus from Aug. 7 through Oct. 12, 2018. The program combines training on high-end computer simulation equipment with practical hands-on experience in the seat of actual equipment.

“Being able to have seat time in the equipment was huge. There are not a lot of opportunities out there for individuals that have never sat in one of these seats to learn how to operate,” Bialkoski said. She is looking forward to finding employment in her field. “It’s my future. Now I can build it!”HEO machines
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples provided the tuition fees for the program for qualified candidates who met their funding criteria.

In keeping with the college’s Indigenization strategy, cultural content was infused into the curriculum. Elders and knowledge keepers visited the program regularly.

“The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples wishes each graduate of the Heavy Equipment Operator program the best! CAP is honoured to have had the opportunity to support these graduates’ career development and path to success. All the best to you!” said Sarah Mitchell, National Project Coordinator, Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

“Assiniboine has been very pleased to partner with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to provide heavy equipment operator training in Brandon.  Our graduates remain in demand by local industry, demonstrating the value of programs in which students ‘Learn by doing,’ Assiniboine’s motto,” said Gerald Cathcart, Assiniboine’s Business Development Coordinator, Community Development.

The program trains graduates to properly maintain and service the machines and be employed as an operator in the heavy construction industry. Heavy equipment operators are well compensated and in demand in Manitoba and throughout Canada.

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