Wikwemikong career fair provides a blueprint for the future

Tradespeople share their experiences with Wikwemikong students and community members during the Wikwemikong High School annual career fair. This year’s fair took special care to include opportunities to be found within the skilled trades.

WIKWEMIKONG—The keys to finding success in a career include discovering what it is you would like to do and then finding the steps that you need to take to get there. Wikwemikong students and community members found a great resource in building their plan during the ‘A Blueprint for My Future’ career fair held at the Wikwemikong High School.

The daylong event included a packed gymnasium filled with booths set up by potential employers, local agencies and the Canadian Forces as well as a series of workshop by presenters from a wide range of occupations and trades.

The opening guest presentation by Wikwemikong Chief Duke Peltier was delivered via the 21st century medium of Skype. Chief Peltier, who was out of town attending meetings, arranged to meet the students in the innovative presentation that was very personal.

Students quizzed the chief on why he chose to enter politics, what was involved in his career and how he got there.

“I was very impressed,” said Wikwemikong Principal Mick Staruck. “He could have just said no, that he was too busy to be able to attend. Instead, he went the extra mile and it was a very personal exchange with the students.”

Following the students’ grilling of the chief, the morning workshops began with Noella Jacko speaking on Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve (WUIR) governance, Chett Monague on ‘Why Choose Nipissing University’, Brian Peltier on ‘Language Revitalization and Technology,’ Olvie Li on ‘Do You Know What It Takes To Become a Nurse,’ Peter Baumgarten ‘From Hobby to Second Career as a Photographer?’ and Nicole Peltier on ‘Your Financial Blueprint.’

Each student had a career fair passport to be signed by the presenters.

Following the early morning sessions, journeyman electrician Shawn Recollet delivered a keynote address discussing apprenticeships.

The second set of morning workshops included Jason Thibault who provided a woodworking demonstration, arborist Peter Jones who discussed ‘Old Roots. New Shoots,’ Gerard Peltier who spoke on ‘College and Preparing for the Big Move,’ Jocelyn Bebamikwe on “Where Does Grade 12 Get You?’, journalist Michael Erskine on ‘Community Journalism: A World of Opportunity’, blogger Christine McNaughton on ‘Social Media’ and Hopeton Louden on ‘The Native Counsellor Training Program.’

Following a hearty lunch, an apprenticeship discussed ‘Learning the Trade’ before the dancers of Outside Looking In (OLI) began a 15-minute performance.

The Canadian Forces booth was doing a brisk business where recruiters Petty Officers 2nd Class Ronald Fisher and Morris Wadge were kept busy handing out brochures and signing up students to receive more information about a career in the forces.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest,” said PO2 Fisher. “It has been a great day. The students have had a lot of great questions.” The recruiters said that they thought a lot of the students were seriously considering a military career.

At the Norcat Common Core booth, Carole Charron discovered that a lot of students were interested in the career opportunities to be found in the resource extraction industry underground.

“There has been a lot of interest,” she said. “Not just from the students, but a lot of community members as well.”

Principal Staruck said that he was very impressed with the level of organization and the type of presenters at this year’s event.

“I think in the past we have concentrated a lot more on the academic side of things,” he said. “This time we had a lot of people who are engaged in the trades and I think our students and the community found that information very valuable.