A multitude of career opportunities were on display as Cree School Board (CSB) organizers in Waswanipi and Chisasibi invited the public to an open house and career fair.

In Waswanipi, the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre (SRVTC) held an open house on March 13 which had nearly 300 people walk through its doors. The people of Waswanipi and nearby areas were given the opportunity to learn about the plethora of professions that are not only viable career options, but also in high demand.

“It was a stunning success,” said Michael Lewis, director of the SRVTC. “The staff said there’s never been such a high turnout.”

One of the goals which Lewis set out for the open house was to demystify some of the career paths and break the stereotypes that go along with them.

“In high school, you dismiss certain careers without reason,” he said. “The open house lets people see [what a particular profession entails] and think, I can do that.”

Lewis explained that what made this open house so unique was its focus on interactivity.

“It was about giving people information in a different form, rather than a pamphlet that people just shove in their back pockets and throw away,” said Lewis. “The idea of simulations and interactivity is very near and dear to me.”

Lewis described the health exhibit for example, in which Nursing teacher Guillaume Coté acted like a mock patient in need of emergency resuscitation.

“The kids got into it because there was fake blood,” Lewis said laughingly. “The ones who didn’t save the patient could definitely use the training.”

Lewis also highlighted some of the professions that will be in high demand as the Plan Nord gears up. Vehicle Mechanics teacher Marshal Commanda, for example, put on a heavy machinery display, taking apart a motor for the crowd.

Metanor Resources Inc. also took part in the open house, shedding light on the many job opportunities in ore extraction. Metanor even sent one of its recruiters, who brought equipment and images.

Lewis went on to explain that aside from shedding light on a number of exciting career opportunities, the open house was designed with much greater goals in mind.

“Education in the truest sense is my mission,” he said. “That and dedication to the community.”

The CSB followed up on the success of the SRVTC open house with a career fair in Chisasibi, which attracted roughly 200 people to the James Bay Eeyou School gymnasium.

Eric Grimstead, CSB counsellor in academic training, one of the organisers of the career fair, believed the time was right to bring a career fair to Chisasibi.

Grimstead said there hadn’t been a guidance counsellor for a number of years and students needed an opportunity to learn about the careers that were open to them. He believed that an education and career fair was the best way to achieve this.

“We were looking for students close to graduating. But we opened it up for all students from Secondary 1 to 5,” Grimstead said.

“A lot of students want to be back in the community, even though they go away for school,” he added. “This gives them an idea of what type of careers they can come back to.”

Aside from the impressive turnout, Grimstead was pleased with the array of presenters who attended the fair.

“We had a lot of construction companies come out,” he said. “We also had the Cree Health Board, the vocational training centre, the Canadian Forces and Air Creebec.”

Much like Lewis, Grimstead emphasized the importance of the opportunity that comes with an event such as this.

“This is the ideal place for a career fair,” he said. “Especially with a population as important as this one, and the fact that there’s a real need for these professions.”