New training program at Xat’sull to provide sawmilling, housebuilding skills

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Participants in a new training program at Xat’sull (Soda Creek) will gain various skills while building a small caretaker’s home at the Whispering Willows Campsite north of Williams Lake.

“Aside from the potential for the development of a new business and jobs in the community, we’re optimistic that it will provide ten people from the local area with the knowledge and experience to begin a new and fulfilling career,” Craig Kennedy said in a release.

Kennedy is a forestry and safety consultant hired by Soda Creek Indian Band (SCIB), who has previously run a similar program at Tl’esqox (Toosey).

The program will run from Jan. 25 to May 21, 2021, and take on 10 Indigenous participants who will earn a wage and gain sawmilling, homebuilding, and house planning skills.

It is being funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training and the Cariboo Chilcotin Aboriginal Training Employment Centre.

SCIB Chief Sheri Sellars said they are excited to have received funding to run the program, calling it an excellent opportunity for people of any age.

The new caretaker’s home at the campsite along Highway 97 will serve as a showpiece for a potential future business.

“We’re also hoping it will lead to the development of a new business in the community with the sawmill and the ability to build small homes in cooperation with our housing department,” Sellars said.

Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune