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Remote training helps develop both careers and communities

O’Brien Training is embarking on its third, nine-week, remote training project with the Gitwangak First Nation
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O'Brien Training is the best-equipped, most technologically advanced heavy equipment school in Northern BC.

When you are training to operate heavy equipment for re-shaping the landscape, it stands to reason your “classroom” in the great outdoors can be just about anywhere you want it to be.

That was the thinking behind a win-win decision for Prince George-based O’Brien Training, to send a fleet of its equipment to Hazelton earlier this year to help members of the Hagwilget First Nation earn their certification on several machines.

“That was our pilot project for remote training, and it went wonderfully,” says Tamara Ketlo, Project Manager with O’Brien Training.

“It went as smooth as you’d expect a pilot project to go.”

The nine-week course started Jan. 11 and 12 students trained on a series of different heavy machines, including an articulated rock truck, a dozer, a wheel loader, an excavator, and a motor grader that were all transported from Prince George to Hazelton.

“The students all pulled their weight, got through it from beginning to end, and achieved their certification,” Ketlo says.

“It was also a win-win all around because not only did the students learn new skills, but they worked on developing a large portion of land for their community,” Ketlo adds. “They turned an unused area into a place for future recreation.”

The Hazelton project was so successful a second one was undertaken with 11 students from the Gitsegukla First Nation.

The majority of the students there came to the classes with employment promises in hand once they completed the training, which also cleared land for future recreation purposes for the community.

And now, O’Brien Training is embarking on its third, nine-week, remote training project with the Gitwangak First Nation.

This time, 14 students will participate, all of whom have letters of employment pending course completion.

The impact from the remote training approach has been significant.

“It’s almost magical because at the end of the day, since I am a First Nations woman, I want other First Nation communities to develop self-sustainable people, invest in their economies, and bring up their collective skill levels,” Ketlo says. “That way, they can earn a good living, take care of their families, make an impact, and be good role models and mentors in their communities. The ripple effect is real, and significant for years to come.”

“To me, this does mean a lot as the students take the steps they need to build their professional careers.”

For more about O’Brien Training and its ongoing programs, visit their website at