Camp Cook Opens Doors
On December 12, 2010, ten Métis youth, aged 18-30, successfully completed an innovative pilot program that has provided them valuable training to jump-start their careers in the food services industry.
The Camp Cook program is a unique, first-of-its-kind, collaborative partnership between the Government of Alberta, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), the Rupertsland Institute’s Training to Employment Program, and PTI Group Inc. (PTI) to provide hands-on culinary training for Métis youth. The extensive six-week program simulates an actual camp work environment, with a 21 day on and seven day off shift, and includes safety certification, academic upgrading, as well as theoretical and hands-on camp cooking training.
Upon successful completion of the program, candidates will have the necessary skills and experience required for employment in the food industry, and will be eligible to be indentured as apprentice cooks. Graduates will also be offered full-time employment opportunities with PTI Group Inc., a company that provides workforce accommodations and catering services to industry customers working in remote areas.
“We are very proud of the Camp Cook program,” says Sandy Sanderson, Director of Aboriginal Relations for PTI Group. “We are not only assisting Aboriginal people in Alberta to find and maintain employment, but we are proactively helping to develop qualified candidates to meet our demanding hiring needs.”
While participants in the program are trained specifically for the camp environment, they graduate with the skills to get a job anywhere within the food services industry. Erica Thompson, a student enrolled in the Camp Cook program explains, “Becoming a chef is an awesome opportunity, but you never really think of it as an actual possibility. This program has opened doors that I never thought imaginable. I have really enjoyed the program and am excited to put the cooking skills I have learned to work at PTI.”
Training for the Camp Cook program is provided by skilled instructors from the Northern Institute of Technology (NAIT) and is being delivered out of PTI’s Mariana Lakes Open Camp kitchen facilities in Mariana Lakes, Alberta. “Having been involved in the delivery of many Aboriginal training programs, I can say that this program has truly been great,” says Carmelita Crisp, NAIT Aboriginal Initiatives Account Manager. “The students’ progress has been outstanding, and enthusiasm for the program and for the career potential has been remarkable.”