Russell Modeste

Finding his fit with VIU’s Indigenous Peoples in Trades Training Program

July 8, 2022

Russell Modeste is ready for the next step towards his dream career

 A few months ago, Russell Modeste wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to take in his career. 

After completing Adult Basic Education upgrading courses at VIU, he decided to explore different options.

“I wanted to see what trade would interest me. At first, it was carpentry, and then it was heavy equipment operating,” he says.

To help him decide, he participated in the Indigenous Peoples in Trades Training (IPTT) Trades Discovery Program – a fully-funded, 12-week program that gives eligible Indigenous students the opportunity to sample different trades programs and gain the hands-on experiences they need to work in the industry.

Throughout the program, students complete safety training certificates like Occupational First Aid, WHMIS, Fall Protection and Confined Space, which they need to enter a jobsite. By the end of the program, students have the training to work in entry-level positions or go on to pursue further training towards a Red Seal trade.

“The trades I tried were culinary, auto, pipe fitting, heavy equipment operating, carpentry and electrical,” says Russell. 

During the program, Russell also had the opportunity to work with Ravenstone Construction, a local Indigenous owned company based in the Cowichan Valley. His work experience paid off and now he’s received a job offer there.

This fall, Russell plans to complete his next level of training in VIU’s Fundamentals of Forest Harvesting Practices program.

“I’ve learned something new in all the trade courses I’ve taken. It helped me choose what I like,” he says.

Russell recommends the program to any Indigenous student looking to start a career in the trades industry.

“I enjoyed the program very much,” he says. “If you haven’t taken any of these trades, you’ll be surprised what you might like and learn.”

VIU is currently accepting applications for the next Indigenous Peoples in Trades Training career exploration program starting September 2022 at the Nanaimo campus.

According to the WorkBC’s Labour Market Outlook, BC is expecting more than 85,000 job openings in skilled trades occupations over the next 10 years.

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