All-female grad class for Haul Truck Program

Haul Truck grads
The graduating class of this fall’s haul truck operator program (left to right): Krista Ladue, Tara Ollie, Destiny Skidmore, Shirley Ladue, Katherine Atkinson, Chelsea Etzel and Melissa Ladue.

WHITEHORSE, YT — On Monday, October 21, 2019 seven Kaska Dena women, along with instructors, families and friends celebrated the completion of a haul truck operator program in Ross River.  

The course is a partnership between Ross River Dena Council’s Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation (DNDC), Pelly Construction Ltd. (Pelly) and Yukon College’s Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining (CNIM). This training became a reality through the mutual goal of DNDC and Pelly to train and hire Kaska Dena Citizens. 

“Training and capacity development for Ross River Dena Council and Kaska Members will be an ongoing priority. Pelly Construction, Yukon College and Dena Nezziddi Development Corporation did an outstanding job with this course and we are really looking forward to more training including trades designations for our members,” said Ross River Dena Chief Jack Caesar. 

The three-week program was designed by CNIM and Pelly to be as true to life on a jobsite as possible. Every morning, the group ran through a ‘tailgate’ safety meeting. The course consisted largely of simulator instruction at Yukon College’s Dene Cho Kê’endį Campus in Ross River, ride-alongs and driving Pelly haul trucks at Pelly’s jobsite at Faro Mine.  

“The best part was driving the trucks. It was awesome to learn in a simulator before driving. It helped me feel prepared and confident. It was great to have this opportunity so close to home, I am really excited to take more training and to get a job to put my new skills to use,” said Chelsea Etzel, program graduate.  

CNIM’s mobile trades training trailer and simulators allow Yukon College to deliver trades courses in smaller communities across the territory and at mine sites, like Faro. The simulators offer virtual-reality training platforms for students to learn how to operate complex and expensive equipment safely and without the risk of real-world mishaps. 

“Courses offered through CNIM provide contract training for various and diverse industrial skills and we are so pleased to see once again, our hands-on courses leading directly to employment for Yukoners,” said Shelagh Rowles, executive director, Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining at Yukon College. 

At the Faro Remediation Project, programs such as this demonstrate commitments to rural communities like Ross River Dena Council while supporting local Indigenous training and employment opportunities.   

“Over the years Pelly has experienced great success with our in-house training programs. When we started on the Faro Remediation Project we were happy to partner with CNIM and DNDC to provide an actual jobsite with 45-ton haul trucks. Pelly has offered employment to four of the seven trainees and have future employment opportunities for the other three,” said Jennifer Byram, vice president, Pelly Construction Ltd. 

Many of the grads plan to continue their training by taking standard first aid and class three driver certification. The partnership plans to offer more courses in the Ross River area.  

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