Strathcona Park Wilderness Institute
Indigenous Workforce is a First Nations-led organization that helps indigenous communities around British Columbia with economic development projects. All projects are designed to meet 4 basic criteria: (1) they are led and initiated by First Nations communities, (2) they involve elders and youth, (3) they are based on First Nations culture and tradition, and (4) they augment grass roots economic development within the community.
Indigenous Workforce projects take place throughout BC, though currently, most are done on the territories of the St'at'imc First Nation.
Voluntern participants who volunteer with Indigenous Workforce go off to live in a First Nations community, they integrate and work together with other volunteers on projects like building campgrounds, recreational trails, they join in community celebrations, and enjoy traditional food and culture.
St’at’imc First Nation Territories, BC
The St'at'imc people are a First Nations people and part of the larger 'Interior Salish' group. Sometimes called the Lillooet, the St'at'imc currently number about 7,000 and live on small villages on 'reserves' spread between the central interior of BC and the Whistler Region.
The St'at'imc culture shared aspects of Interior Salish and Coast Salish cultures, including totem poles, and potlatches. To learn more about the St'at'imc people, click here.
The St'at'imc homeland is a dry, but green region, crossed by many rivers, most importantly the Lillooet. Activities in this region include camping, hiking, caving, and in the right season, skiing. For more information on outdoor activities in this region, click here.
Besides the St'at'imc communities of Skookumchuk and Mt Currie, there are several prominent non-native communities in this region, including Pemberton, and Whistler.
What to Expect With Indigenous Workforce
Voluntern participants can be asked to help out for up to 8 hours per day. This is done between 8.30am and the early evening - with specific hours determined by the project, sometimes even the temperature (if outdoors work - the hotter the day, the earlier work may start). Typically, you will receive a schedule at the start of the week. There may also be cultural activities that you'll be invited to - and while attendance isn't mandatory, we'd very strongly suggest going - as these are a great opportunity for you to meet people and have fun.
All duties are dependent on the specific project but in the past have included:
- making cultural crafts
- creating and marking walking and hiking trails
- cleaning camp grounds
- assisting with gardening
- installing camp ground furniture
- trail and hot spring clean up
- clean up and maintenance around your cabin/camper
All Voluntern participants live on-site at an Indigenous Workforce cabin or camper. Cabins and campers can be shared with other volunteers and have electricity, running water as well as:
- small fridge
- small stove (though volunteers often cook on an open fire outside of the tent)
Once a week, your supervisor at Indigenous Workforce will arrange for a trip for you to visit a shop to buy food for the following week.
NB: Laundry facilities are not available, so volunteers should be prepared to hand-wash their clothes.
What Past Voluntern Participants Say:
"I have a great relationship with Andy my supervisor and my volunteer co workers. Andy is incredibly enthusiastic and very fun to be around and He always makes sure we have something to do. He is very well respected amongst the community so we have met many great people through his connections. I have definitely made a lasting bind with all my co workers and I think we will continue to stay in touch with each other after our work here is done."
Voluntern participants going to volunteer with Indigenous Workforce are encouraged to begin their stay in Canada at Vancouver, BC. Whenever possible, the host will pick up volunteers from the EE office on West Hastings Street, and take them to the volunteering site. However, in some cases, volunteers may be asked to go to Pemberton, BC for pick-up.
The best way to get to Pemberton is by Greyhound Bus. You can catch the Greyhound Bus at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver. The trip to Pemberton takes about 3 hours, and (if bought in advance), costs about CAD$30. Volunteers should book the 10.30am departure. Once you've booked your ticket, please send a copy to your EE coordinator so she can arrange your meetup with the host. She will email you with all the details of that meetup only after she's received a copy of your ticket.
Experience Education Services
We at Experience Education have matched you with this Voluntern Wilderness host, based on the preferences you indicated in your registration documents.
During your placement we would like you to complete a report each 2 weeks. This is optional - but it is an important tool to help us keep track of how you are doing. You can complete those reports by clicking here.
If there are any urgent issues during your transfer to the Voluntern host or during your stay, please call: 1.877.795.8403, and dial 717 for our emergency line.
We wish you the best of stays with 'Indigenous Workforce'.