Feature Story    

                                                 Wednesday February 9, 2011

Pilgrimage To Job Mecca

8th Annual Aboriginal Career Fair draws 600 students

Staff/Voice photos


Over 600 First Nation students attended the Job Fair last Friday at the Landing Sports Centre.

he Stó:lō Nation Community Development and Stó:lō Nation Youth Council opened the doors last Friday to about 600 students at the Landing Sports Centre for the 8th Annual Aboriginal Employment & Career Fair.

Students were bussed in from Surrey to Hope and given the day to explore some of the 50 exhibitors on hand at the Fair who's purpose was to give the kids a feel of what kinds of careers opportunities are out there waiting for them.

The booths focused on everything from dental careers to Department of Fisheries and Oceans jobs. There were hands-on demonstrations at many booths and workshops by the RCMP took place in the upstairs meeting room.

Students moved excitedly up and down the rows. Each wearing, or carrying a bright lime green backpack that was given to them as they arrived to hold the armloads of handouts and brochures.

In 2010, The Voice reported the event had just over 500 youth attending and each year the Fair has grown into an annual pilgrimage to a Job Mecca. Students who are on the cusp of entering the workforce and will soon have to make career choices.

Joanne Jefferson is Sto:lo Education Director at Sto:lo Nation. She's also a busy Justice Manager with "one of the biggest caseloads in Canada" on her desk.

According to Jefferson Friday was a "really good day" adding that students are often surprised at what they find there with so many exhibitors on hand.

"There are some careers here that they may never have thought of," she said. "We've got government and private sector, schools and universities and different types of opportunities that they might not have gotten exposure to."

Jason Campbell, who works with Corrections Canada and also a popular local emcee, spoke with The Voice last year saying that the event worked to help to bolster kid's "confidence and self-assurance" levels by being able to interact with exhibitor staff.

Throughout the morning Campbell called names over the P.A. and handed out an assortment of gift certificates and digital cameras to lucky kids.

Aside from the booth, there were guest speakers, Sto:lo drummers, singers and a live band added some colour. A hot salmon lunch with all the trimmings was served by Big Als' Catering preceded by a prayer from elder Felicia.


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