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Alan Roberge, a 25-year-old Metis student, trained through Tradewinds and has plans to build his own home.

Tradewinds blowing positive change

Training program, with help from local unions and
federal funding puts Aboriginal workers on road to success

Tradewinds to Success has given aboriginal students a path into the trades for over a decade. And now, with a recent funding boost, it will be training even more. 

Earlier this year  the Liberal government announced a $1 million contribution to Tradewinds.

In 2015/16, the program took in 135 students, but with this funding, it will be well over 400 students in 2016/17.

Trade Winds partners with local unions to offer 14- to 16-week pre-apprenticeship training to Indigenous students for almost every trade. Graduating students receive their safety tickets and become apprenticeship ready.  The program has graduated close to 1,200 students since its inception in 2005.

Alan Roberge, future carpenter
It was the success of a relative that helped persuade Alan Roberge to get involved with Tradewinds to Success. Roberge, a 25-year-old Metis student, said he has worked numerous "odd jobs" since high school. He's now a father and seeking a secure, reliable job involving work he enjoys.

"I enjoy carpentry— seeing it as you're building it, and it comes together in the end. It gives you a great feeling."

Many positive stories
Carol Lee, program and finance assistant with Tradewinds to Success said she has heard numerous personal stories from students about their ability to find work and support their families as a result of their trades training. One graduate became an electrician and a welder and started his own company, she said.

Alf Richards, an electrical instructor with Tradewinds for the past five years, recalled one student with an addiction to alcohol. He said he sat him down and talked to him about changing his lifestyle. That student left the course for personal reasons but returned during another intake, said he had given up liquor, and went on to earn the top marks in the class.

"He still contacts me every few months to let me know how he is doing," Richards said.

"I believe he is a third year apprentice now and he still has not touched a drop of liquor. He told me his life is much better since he quit drinking. People like him make my job fulfilling."

The program, which targets women and youth but does welcome older adults as well, has demonstrated true success with an 86 per cent pass rate among Tradewinds students taking the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training exam.

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