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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 citizens through training, employment and career opportunities. KDC is committed to creating economic stability within our community and our citizens’ 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 Citizens. 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 Cowichan Tribes citizen 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

KDC_icons_youth connection

Create a program to strongly involve youth and other citizens 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 Citizens, 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 Citizens 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 citizens 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 citizens 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 Citizens 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.

This Lunch and Learn was soon followed by a 2-week training program with an instructor from Ironworkers Union Local 97. The training camp ran from Nov 28 to December 9, 2022, and was very successful. 14 participants began the training and 11 of them completed the course. Of those that completed the course, 4 were Cowichan Tribes Citizens, and 4 were members from neighboring nations.

Three Cowichan citizens have now started their career with Nucor Harris Rebar and KDC is receiving economic benefits from our partnership.


Youth Dream Camp

KDC is excited to announce that we will be hosting our second Bears’ Lair Dream Camp for our youth, ages 11-18, from March 11-14th 2024 at QCCC in Comeakin.

Dream Camps encourage youth to imagine opportunities, to be inspired to continue their education, pursue training and consider entrepreneurship as a path to self-reliance. Over three fun-filled, interactive days youth will work in teams and learn about the fundamentals of owning and operating a business. Bears’ Lair will provide mentorship and coaching, all while the youth develop friendships and valuable insight as they learn how to turn their business ideas into reality.

We want to thank Paper Excellence for making this second year possible and sponsoring the Bears’ Lair Youth Entrepreneur Dream Camp for our youth.

You can also register in person by printing the registration form here and bringing it in to Khowutzun Development Corporation at 200 Cowichan Way.


KDC is offering sponsorship for two Cowichan Tribes youths aged 18-35 to attend the Indigenous Youth Forum and Job Fair:

If you’re interested in KDC’s sponsorship for the event, you can email

Bear’s Lair Television has teamed up with AFOA BC to organize the inaugural Indigenous Youth Forum and Job Fair. The event will be held from October 16th to 19th at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, British Columbia, and is designed for energetic youth aged 18 to 35. The main focus of the forum is to provide young people with valuable knowledge in entrepreneurship, negotiation, and leadership skills that will help them grow and thrive.

Participants can look forward to an incredibly fulfilling experience at the forum. The program spans three days of intensive learning, culminating in a day dedicated to filming their pitches in a format reminiscent of our TV show, but on a more intimate scale. To cap off the event, we will host a grand gala reception where we will announce the winner of a $10,000 prize, as determined by our esteemed panel of judges.

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.


    I went back to my old job for a few months, but one day (in what seemed to be destiny) I saw a post on Facebook from a Cowichan Tribes citizen about the WATT Program with Houle. I jumped at the opportunity to become an electrician through this program and it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    Houle was totally supportive throughout the program, and at the end of the training portion, they helped with job placement. Everyone has been super friendly and very respectful; I’ve noticed that electricians look out for other electricians in the field. Our work is completed with pride and I have learned a lot through this experience. If I were to do anything differently, it would only be to have chosen this career path earlier on in life. I highly recommend the WATT Program with Houle to any Cowichan youth interested in pursuing an electrical 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 citizen 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