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Investing in the wellbeing and success of Cowichan Tribes

The New Voices Program is centered around building success and sustainability for Cowichan Tribes and its members through training, employment and career opportunities. KDC is committed to creating economic stability within our community and our members’ businesses.

We aim to empower our future generations with the knowledge and skills to uphold the legacy of the Cowichan Tribes. Through direct support, economic and training initiatives, meaningful employment opportunities, and by honouring our cultural heritage, KDC strives to nurture our communities by fostering connections and identifying opportunities for growth.

Investing in the Future


The New Voices Program was developed to identify and create opportunities with businesses in the community to actively participate in the professional development of Cowichan Tribes members. Our aim is to foster an atmosphere of connection and support where the younger generations and those who have not been involved in the workforce feel empowered to build a valuable skill set and explore career options that lead to fulfillment in this sphere of their lives.

Our goal is to remove barriers to success and provide access to practical tools and support systems, helping to develop the foundation of stable, long-term employment. We believe that cultivating economic growth and prosperity within the Cowichan Valley begins by supporting individuals and families within our Indigenous communities. KDC is dedicated to facilitating meaningful connections between community members and local businesses who are providing opportunities for valuable training and job placement.

The New Voices Program was built on the guiding principle of Nuts’amaat Shqwaluwun: working together, with one heart and one mind.


Create opportunities for careers, employment, and training


Connecting KDC partnered companies and member owned businesses with government and industry, to create meaningful and long-term employment and career opportunities.

Liaise with partner companies and support community members to facilitate successful hiring and retention – including applicant workshops, job shadowing, and access to support

Support co-op training, professional development, and work experience opportunities for community members, such as wage subsidy programs and summer programs, through institutional partnerships

Communicate and engage with community


Meaningfully engage Quw’utsun S-ul’hween (Elders) and all community members

Create a program to strongly involve youth and other members who have been less involved

Expand online presence, through the new KDC website and social media


We’ve partnered with people-first companies whose values and objectives align with KDC in fostering growth and development in the communities where we work and live.

We’re proud to share these training and employment opportunities with Cowichan Tribes members, bridging the gap between incredible potential and a need for skilled workers to contribute to the economic growth of our communities.


Houle is committed to social responsibility and community engagement, which makes this a natural and valuable connection for KDC.

Houle provides their clients with electrical construction and service, as well as security, network systems, industrial capability, power quality, building automation systems, audio visual, and lighting service, and is dedicated to delivering the highest quality work in any circumstance. Houle serves the entire province of BC, with regional offices in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Kitimat.

Houle has a strong corporate culture of community involvement. “Sharing our skills and resources with the communities where we live, work, and do business is a key element of our corporate responsibility. With our commitment to serve and strengthen our communities, our company and employees have donated vast amounts of time, money, and supplies to many exceptional causes.”

The WATT (Workplace Alternative Trades Training) Program is an alternative pathway to Electrical Apprenticeship with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 230. It is funded in part by the Government of Canada and was designed to increase access to employment and improve apprenticeship continuation rates for under-represented groups and those who experience systemic barriers to traditional apprenticeship models.

Through WATT, Indigenous Peoples, Youth, and other barriered participants receive priority placement after participating in a 3-hour exploratory electrical skills workshop where mechanical aptitude, motivation and other factors for apprenticeship success are measured. Successful candidates are enrolled in a two-week, part-time online course in which they learn about apprenticeship, basics of electricity and common tools of the trade. The in-shop training focuses on the hands-on skills that signatory contractors such as Houle Electric require most of low-term electrical apprentices. Participants are equipped with premium toolkits, workwear, safety certificates and basic practical skills needed to get to work as an electrical apprentice.

The program is free of cost and allows apprentices to start a new career after only three weeks of training. The program is demand-driven; participants are trained only when and where employment opportunities exist with a success rate of over 95%. WATT enables apprentices to overcome barriers, to gain necessary skills and get to work in meaningful employment fully supported by the program and with union apprenticeship sponsorship. With academic barriers reduced, and lengthy college waitlists eliminated, participants learn the practical skills that matter most and result in immediate employment attachment, apprenticeship completion and success rates that are triple the average.

For the past three years, WATT has been providing this opportunity to those who could not easily access electrical careers on the traditional pathway. Over 170 apprentices have gained the required skills for meaningful employment and apprenticeship success with wrap-around support every step of the way.

To learn more or apply, please visit the website:

Most recently, the WATT program opened the door for two Cowichan Tribes members to join Houle Electric as apprentices. William Rodriguez and Brad Thorne both joined the union and began working with Houle in 2021 following their completion of the program, and are also both pursuing further education in university. We’re so proud of their achievement, and look forward to connecting more community members with the program and supporting them as they begin successful careers in the construction industry.

“The WATT Program is an ideal option for those who want to become an electrician – it’s not just a job, it’s a career.”
William Rodriguez
Houle, WATT Participant


Allteck delivers energy and resource management services across Western Canada and beyond, with a deep commitment to building meaningful connections with the local communities it serves. Allteck promotes educational, training and employment opportunities to Cowichan Band members through its work of offering highly specialized electric transmission and distribution services.

The Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth (PLAY) Program partners with more than 85 First Nations communities and urban Aboriginal organizations across Canada to deliver safe, fun and educational programming for Aboriginal children and youth. Allteck is proud to be an implementing partner for the “PLAY” program. 

Allteck has partnered with the Thompson Rivers University to prepare students for a career in power line maintenance and operations by providing both classroom and hands-on training. With the assistance of the Allteck Power Bursary Fund, Allteck is proud to have enrolled candidates from Indigenous communities across BC.

Connect with Allteck to learn more:


The Lunch and Learn program aims to connect our community members with experts in a variety of industries, engaging them in an introduction to the field and giving them an opportunity to start developing a new skill. Each session gives participants a chance to explore behind-the-scenes, have their questions answered, and discuss potential barriers and how to overcome them. Every participant will leave with step-by-step guidance on how to kickstart a positive and successful career.

So far, we’ve hosted 4 Lunch and Learn sessions at Cowichan Secondary School, the Yuthuy’thut Adult Training Centre, and the Quw’utsun Cultural & Conference Centre. We’re looking forward to expanding the program moving into 2023.

Lunch and Learn Success

On Sept 27, 2022, we hosted an incredibly successful Lunch and Learn with Harris Rebar, as well as the Construction Foundation of BC, Ironworkers Union 97, and Houle Electric. Participants, including our own Cowichan Tribes members as well as members of Nations from the North Island, were given the opportunity to learn more about various trades and industries and explore career options with guidance from experts.

We will be following up with a 2-week training program with the union, and a one-day work experience opportunity on site with Harris Rebar in Nanaimo. We are proud to say we anticipate 3-5 jobs being secured as a result of this Lunch and Learn opportunity.


Watch this space for upcoming job fairs and other events created to support the goals and initiatives of the New Voices Program. Use the button below to Sign up and stay informed about new community programs and events!
Watch this space for upcoming events and training opportunities.

    Contact us here for details and registration


    We’re pleased to feature these inspiring success stories of young leaders in our community.

    Brad Thorne, Houle – WATT Program

    “This has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

    I had always wanted to become an electrician. I started out as a laborer with a company doing renovation construction and worked my way up to a crew boss position. I told my supervisor I was thinking about going back to school to get a carpentry ticket and they suggested I get my electrician’s ticket instead. I decided to take that path, only to find out that I missed out on a sponsorship from Cowichan Tribes by just one day; I felt like I’d missed out on my dream career.


    William Rodriguez, Houle – WATT Program

    “The WATT Program is an ideal option for those who want to become an Electrician – it’s not just a job, it’s a career.”

    The WATT Program supports youth who have a passion for the Electrical Trade, and I was one of the lucky ones who got in. I went through my first year of the Electrician Program at Vancouver Island University through their Foundations course; however, the pandemic caused all courses to go online near the end of the course. I continued working at the restaurant where I’d been employed at the time while taking classes with VIU online, but I didn’t realize that construction projects did not stop.


    Get Involved

    Want to participate?

    If you’re a Cowichan Tribes member interested in the New Voices Program, we’d love to hear from you! Please complete the contact form below and we will be in touch soon to help you discover exciting opportunities and valuable resources for career growth.

    Program Participants

      Want to get connected?

      We’re always happy to hear from local businesses interested in partnering with New Voices. Get in touch using the contact form below, and we look forward to finding new ways we can support one another.

      Program Partners