Nine participants from Blueberry River First Nations are the first graduates of a woman specific Sky Keepers program.

The program hosted by the Construction Foundation of BC’s (CFBC), sees participants acquire a drone operating certificate, but also receive safety certifications for things like WHMIS and Food Safe.

Participants also took workshops on computer training, financial literacy, cultural connections and other essential skills over the span of 10 weeks.

“It’s been an amazing group to work with,” said Sky Keepers manager of operations Keri Taylor.

“There was a sense of engagement, a sense of family, a really tight community. We’ve had some of these women using the Zoom application to participate in class despite having prior family and community commitments. They’ve worked extremely hard to stay involved.” 

Drone training for Sky Keepers was delivered by Aboriginal Training Services (ATS), a private, Indigenous-owned company developing training programs targeted specifically for the use of remote piloted aerial systems (RPAS, drones) in areas of consultation, surveying and emergency management.

“Working with this Sky Keepers cohort was a fantastic experience,” said ATS founder and owner Darcy Hunt.

“We were out for eight days and the attendance of the participants was great to see. The women who completed the program were issued Advanced Drone Certificates. Now, there are industry partners that are interested in taking them on for future employment.”

Participants flew the DJI M30T drone, a model popular in the Search & Rescue industry that includes features such as Ground Penetrating Radar and 200x zoom capabilities.

Despite adverse weather conditions during training sessions, ATS and the Sky Keepers cohort were able to fly four drones outdoors.

While the program’s first cohort graduated in March, the Sky Keepers program has an additional nineteen participants registered for upcoming programming this spring.

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