Songhees Nation students prepping for culinary arts program

Twenty-four Indigenous learners from the Songhees Nation will get the education and skills they need to thrive and succeed with the launch of the new culinary arts, hospitality and tourism management program.

“The partnership between Songhees Nation and Camosun College breaks down barriers to education for many learners by actually delivering skills training in the community,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Investing in education programs for Indigenous learners helps make sure we all take our place in British Columbia’s thriving economy and growing workforce.”

Songhees Nation is partnering with Camosun College to bring a culinary arts, hospitality and tourism management program to its community. The $655,000 in funding, over two years, is provided as part of the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program.

Gary Sam, councillor, Songhees Nation and director, Songhees Seafood and Steam, said, “We designed the Songhees Wellness Centre to include a fully equipped commercial kitchen, as career opportunities in the culinary arts were part of our vision. In partnership with Clipper Navigation and under the direction of chef Roger, in 2016, we launched our food truck, Songhees Seafood and Steam, as well as our events and catering business. We purchased Songhees Seafood and Steam outright last year, and our catering and events business has exploded across the Capital Region, beyond expectation.

“Today’s announcement of this robust partnership program is extremely exciting. We are very grateful to the Province and to our partner, Camosun College, for recognizing our aspirations and our achievements, and for investing with us in this important opportunity for more of our learners to train in the culinary arts. We currently have two Red Seal apprentices in the Hospitality Training Program at Camosun College, and the interest to participate is high among our community members.

“Programs delivered in our community help ensure that our students are supported and celebrated for their successes, and allow for these students to be role models here at home in their families, encouraging others to get involved.”

The Aboriginal Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism Management program will provide students with Professional Cook level 1 certification (an Industry Training Authority trades designation), two applied tourism and hospitality courses, numerous third-party certificates related to the industry and work placement upon completion. Learners will benefit from a full range of educational and wraparound services — including cultural elements and Elder supports to ensure student success.

“Camosun College is pleased to partner with the Songhees on this project,” said Geoff Wilmshurst, Camosun College vice-president of partnerships. “The program is the direct result of the Songhees Nation identifying its need for a skilled workforce, and working with Camosun to put together the necessary components through a collaborative and interdisciplinary process. We, as a team, provide Indigenous students from many different communities with the tools and opportunity to discover their place and succeed in the hospitality and tourism sector. Their success will continue to benefit communities for long after the program has been completed.”

The Songhees Nation is one of more than 40 communities throughout B.C. that will benefit from the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program, which will provide $21.1 million over three years. The purpose of the program is to provide Indigenous learners with post-secondary education and training to further their education and obtain sustainable employment.

“The Aboriginal Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism Management program at the Songhees Wellness Centre will help people in our community develop in-demand skills close to home, where their families and support systems are located,” said Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin. “This is an example of collaboration in action, because government is working with Indigenous communities and our public post-secondary institutions to empower Indigenous peoples to thrive and succeed.”

The Indigenous population is growing at more than triple the rate of the non-Indigenous population, with nearly 45% under the age of 25. With an estimated 6,210 job openings expected within the next 10 years in the accommodation and food-service industry in Victoria and Vancouver Island, this program is helping to train skilled workers to grow the industry in their home community.

The program funding is provided by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada, through the Canada-British Columbia Job Fund. Investing in programs like these is consistent with B.C.’s commitment to true, lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia, and in implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.

Learn More:

For more information on Indigenous education and training, including the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program:

Original article from BC Government News