The Inaugural B.C. Indigenous Apprenticeship Forum

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Last month marked the first B.C. Indigenous Apprenticeship Forum, bringing together members of the skilled trades community for a groundbreaking three-day event.


Last month, the first ever B.C. Indigenous Apprentice Forum kicked off at the Delta Hotel & Conference Centre in Burnaby gathering members of the skilled trades community. This inaugural three-day conference (April 30 – May 2) fostered vital discussions, shared invaluable learnings, and celebrated notable successes, all with the goal of advancing opportunities for Indigenous apprenticeships. SkilledTradesBC worked collaboratively with the B.C. Aboriginal Training Employment Alliance Members (BCATEAM) on the planning committee, providing support and guidance when needed.  

The seeds of this conference started a year ago after the 2023 Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) where the need for a dedicated forum on Indigenous apprenticeship experience was identified. In response, a committee led by the BCATEAM, representing 15 Indigenous Skills Employment and Training Strategy (ISETS) programs, was formed to bring this inaugural event to fruition. 

Over the course of three days, there were panels, off-site tours, presentations, and networking opportunities that reflected the different audience groups in the Indigenous apprenticeship journey. The first day began with SkilledTradesBC (represented by CEO, Shelley Gray) and members from the BCATEAM solidifying their partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU is based on the principles of Truth and Reconciliation 94 Calls to Action, Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA), and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), to engage in an impactful partnership to ensure Indigenous inclusion and input resulting in successful opportunities in the trades.  

During the conference, there was a strong emphasis on the significant work of ISETS across the province in helping Indigenous peoples prepare, train and find sustainable jobs and careers. Other voices included unions, corporate sponsors and training providers. The diverse nature of participants made for dynamic conversations and connections – attendees were energized by the opportunities to converse directly with representatives immediately rather than setting up meetings in the future; utilizing the energy and momentum of the conference. A unique aspect of the conference was that on the second day, attendees visited different off-site locations with complimentary bus transport to experience trades training in action. Some of the locations included: union shops, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), and Seaspan, along with impressive trade simulators available for attendees to try.  

Overall, the conference fostered collaboration and highlighted the importance of everyone’s collective efforts towards inclusive growth in the skilled trades industry. SkilledTradesBC remains committed to working with our Indigenous partners and communities to support and promote Indigenous apprenticeship and success.  

The Forum was made possible through the collaborative support and efforts of partners, funders and sponsors: 


[Photo Above: April 30, 2024 - MOU Signing with SkilledTradesBC and BCATEAM]