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Learning to clean up land
Contaminated Sites Remediation Program underway in Fort Simpson

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thirteen people from three Deh Cho communities are learning the skills needed to work on contaminated site cleanups.

NNSL photo/graphic

Andrew Sewi, left, and Terence Menicoche familiarize themselves with a GPS during a scavenger hunt activity that was part of the Contaminated Sites Remediation Program currently underway at Aurora College in Fort Simpson. - photo courtesy of John Blyth

Aurora College in Fort Simpson is currently offering the Contaminated Sites Remediation Program. This is the first time the program has been offered in the territory, said Kevin Smith, the program head for the Environment and Natural Resource Technology program with the college.

The program prepares people to work on any type of clean-up activities, including both the health and safety aspects of cleanups and the technical side, said Smith. The program is one of three the college offers, including the Environmental Monitor Training Program and Environmental Site Assessment. Both share the same core skills.

Thirteen students

Between Nov. 14 and Nov. 28, the 13 students including three from Jean Marie River, four from Fort Providence and six from Fort Simpson were learning the core skills with instructor John Blyth.

Training included how to use GPS devices, cameras and maps. Participants also learned the importance of detailed note-taking and documentation and how to document spills and spill responses. Transportation of Dangerous Goods and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System certification was also offered.

The students have been working hard, said Blyth. Students have been spending longer hours in the classroom and attending classes on Saturdays to accommodate the course being compressed into four weeks, instead of the usual seven weeks.

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 11, participants will be taking the second part of the course that is specifically on contaminated site remediation.

Melissa Bacon, a remediation specialist, will be leading that part of the course, which will include how to develop and implement site remediation plans and how to evaluate their effectiveness.

Arthur Elleze, one of the participants in the course from Fort Providence, said he wanted to take the course because he's skilled at being on the land and wants to help take care of it.

Elleze said he's enjoyed learning the technical skills and how to test water and is looking forward to the more specialized remediation knowledge.

Andrew Sewi, who's from Deline and is living in Fort Simpson, said he's also looking forward to getting a job on the land.

"There's going to be pipelines going through, there's going to be lots of activities," he said.

Sewi said he's learned about using GPS devices and maps and how to make sketches of sites.

"You learn lots," he said.

The Dehcho Futures Society is funding the course, including providing accommodation, travel expenses and meals for the participants.

The society is a non-profit organization created by Dehcho First Nations to deliver the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program, which is overseen by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

A number of the First Nations that make up Dehcho First Nations requested that the program be held on a regional level, said Mavis Wasp-Colin, the society's executive director.

Smith said Aurora College jumped at the opportunity to offer the program with the society because it seemed timely.

"It's a specialization in communities that people are looking for," he said.

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