North Island Secondary School’s (NISS) gymnasium was packed to the brim with students on Thursday, March 10, for their second Trades Fair. All of School District 85 and the local band schools were invited to attend, which meant there was “around 700 plus students in a steady flow throughout the day,” said NISS Principal Jay Dixon, adding that the “trades fair went quite well.”
Dixon took to the podium at 11:30 a.m., hushed the energetic crowd, and then welcomed Kaleb Child, Director of First Nations, who introduced students and staff from NISS and T’lisalagi’lakw to open the event with a ladies dance of welcome. After the cultural welcoming, the trades fair commenced with many different local business booths from companies like Western Forest Products, West Coast Helicopters, ICBC, and Marine Harvest.
Andy Beech, Marine Harvest’s maintenance manager for Port Hardy processing, mentioned that by participating in the event, “we’re giving the kids a better understanding of our company and what we can offer them in the way of job potential,” adding that Marine Harvest “really enjoys giving back. We’re proud to operate from here and we’re proud to be a part of the local community. It’s the people that live and work here that make us successful.”The trades fair was organized for the second year by NISS teacher Kathleen McArthur, who said that the previous event in 2014 was “really similar to this one, except the Work BC Find Your Fit Tour wasn’t a part of it, so it was more of a community event.”
This year, the Work BC Find Your Fit Tour, which is an interactive tour where students get to try out different skills that they’ll need for careers in demand across the province, “was offered to us,” said McArthur. “We were also supported through the Industry Training Authority Yes 2 It Grant,” which is a government grant designed to help trades based awareness activities.The idea behind the Trades Fair and the Find Your Fit Tour is to give the students hands on experience by “actually putting tools in their hands to let them see how it feels and to encourage them to pursue a career in the trades industries,” said McArthur, who hopes that the students take away from this experience that “there are jobs locally, and that there’s a lot of potential jobs in the trades that they might never have thought of.”