Indigenous students in the culinary arts field got a $500,000-boost from the provincial government this week to help further their training and get the skills they need to be successful in the hospitality industry.
The announcement for a partnership between Sto:lo Nation, University of Fraser Valley (UFV) and Vancouver Community College (VCC), plus funding to build a new test kitchen at UFV in Chilliwack, came Wednesday morning at the university’s Trades and Technology Centre.
“I am proud to celebrate this community-driven partnership. To me, this demonstrates reconciliation in action,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.
The Province of B.C. has invested $300,000 through the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program to fund the Sto:lo Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training (SASET) Culinary Arts program. It’s a a 12-week, pre-trades training program at UFV and VCC that provides first aid, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, FoodSafe and World Host certificates, along with pre-apprenticeship training, including a work practicum placement.
An additional $200,000 in capital funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training is also being invested at UFV to build a new test kitchen space and provide equipment for the program.
The SASET culinary arts program has been offered at UFV for many years, including at the former campus on Yale Road. When the campus moved to the southside, culinary instructors had to juggle their schedules around to fit in all the different classes at the new space.
Now, there will soon be a lot more room for students and staff with the addition of the new test kitchen. The project is currently under construction at the Trades and Technology Centre in Chilliwack and is expected to be completed at the end of the month.
Jimmy McKay is taking the SASET Culinary Arts program at UFV. He’s one of the Indigenous students who will directly benefit from the funding and will be one of the first to step into in the new kitchen classroom later this year.
“This course and our instructor really opened up my eyes to the culinary world, and I feel like myself when I cook and bake. I’m thankful for being able to be a part of this,” McKay said.
Skills training that is culturally sensitive and relevant for Indigenous peoples helps meet the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The SASET Culinary Arts program has been delivered to more than 140 students and has had positive impacts. At the course’s end, more than three-quarters of its students were employed or enrolled in further education.