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Confidence, the Key to Success!

From CBC Indigenous News by Renée Lilley who is a reporter for CBC Indigenous. She is a recent University of Winnipeg grad with a BA in rhetoric and communications. She has reported on radio and online news in her hometown of Portage la Prairie. She is also a proud Métis mama of four girls.

On January 5, 2022, these women all graduated. I was so inspired by this I felt compelled to share. Congratulations to all of the intrepid women! Wishing you a long, prosperous and safe career. You rock! This is such an uplifting and inspiring article.

Some of the graduates and community staff members. The women wore traditional ribbon skirts as part of their celebration. ( Interior Heavy Equipment Operator School - image credit)

An all-women class from Little Red River Cree Nation in northern Alberta graduated recently with their heavy equipment operator certificates.

Lakeisha Metsikassus, 22, has already secured a job as a heavy equipment operator with the public works department in her home community of Fox Lake.

"I [hope] to inspire other women to do whatever they want to do," she said.

Little Red River Cree Nation has three communities: Fox Lake, John D'Or Prairie and Garden River. The program was hosted in Garden River.

Metsikassus was the only person from Fox Lake to apply to the 13-week program. The 10 students graduated Nov. 5, and she applied for the job at the public works department three days later.

Students learned how to operate six different heavy equipment machines including a grader, dozer, excavator, loader, rubber tire backhoe and an articulated rock truck.

Metsikassus said she liked learning the dozer while in training, and is already using a grader and rubber tire backhoe on the job.

"Every time I ask the experienced operators questions, they just tell me what to do," she said. "They don't laugh at me when I ask."

Metsikassus has a one-year-old son who she said was her main motivation to apply for the training program.

"He's my inspiration, he's everything I do [this] for. I want to set an example for him."

Confidence key to success

IHE Interior Heavy Operator Equipment School based in Alberta and British Columbia delivered the program. It has a remote mobile division where instructors can deliver courses in communities they partner with.

Remote instructor Russ Prosser said the class was one of the best classes he's worked with in his over 20 years of training, and will be used as a model for remote classes going forward.

"I have never seen a group of students, not just women, but students, pick it up the way these girls picked it up," he said. "It's as if they've done it before, that's how good they were,&qu