Building a sustainable regional economy requires teamwork and when it comes to helping provide an educated and trained workforce to create growth, Selkirk College and Columbia Power are a winning combination.
“Columbia Power has created 660 new megawatts of electricity from our projects, generated over 1,200 construction jobs and injected close to $300 million into our local economy,” says Bree Seabrook, Director of Public & Aboriginal Relations for Columbia Power. “Many of the workers who built our projects were trained and educated at Selkirk College. They were able to stay in the community because of the link between their education and local employment opportunities.”
Columbia Power has many employees who have received at least some of their post-secondary education and training at Selkirk College. Some of those alumni gathered for a photo and include (L-R) Bree Seabrook, Jessica Rogers, Heather Gauthier, Sue Dyer, Scott Spencer, Linda Verishine, Andre Noel, Audrey Rysen, Pat Keller, John Jenner and Caleb Kennedy.
Columbia Power was created in 1995 under the Columbia Basin Accord with the original mandate to undertake power project investments as the agent of the Province of British Columbia and in partnership with Columbia Basin Trust. Over the last two decades, Columbia Power has been an integral component of major dam projects including the recently completed Waneta Expansion project. Columbia Power owns and operates hydro power projects in the Basin with a vision that includes reinvesting in the future of the region through areas including post-secondary.
Providing residents of the West Kootenay and Boundary region a post-secondary pathway close to home is one of the foundations Selkirk College was built upon when it first opened its doors to learning in 1966. Over the past five decades, the college has provided thousands of students the educational tools for success.
“Selkirk College offers our employees the ability to take a variety of courses locally, knowing that the quality of education is there,” says Frank Marino, Director of Human Resources & Corporate Services at Columbia Power. “Having the access to a local college allows for more people in the area to obtain a better education. It also allows employers to work with the college to customize some of the courses Selkirk offers, which benefits both employers and employees.”
The Right Start for Successful Careers
As a testament to the importance of Selkirk College to the region, both Marino and Seabrook are shining examples of how accessible post-secondary education can be found right in the West Kootenay and Boundary.
“Selkirk College helped me to transition from high school to university life without having to move away from home after high school,” says Marino, who graduated from Trail’s J.L. Crowe Secondary in the late-1970s and started his post-secondary journey at the Castlegar Campus. “Having this option in the West Kootenay means you can either get your degree here or use the credits to transfer to another institution and complete your education. It’s a quality education recognized by other institutions, but with the advantage of smaller sizes so you can get to know your instructors and classmates.”
Columbia Power executive leadership team members Frank Marino (right) and Bree Seabrook (left) are two examples of how Selkirk College provides the educational background for key contributors to our regional economy.
After one year in the School of University Arts & Sciences at Selkirk College, Marino completed his Bachelor of Education degree and Master’s of Business Administration at the University of British Columbia. With more than 20 years of experience in human resources and management, Marino has been with Columbia Power for the last three years.
Seabrook’s first brush with Selkirk College came through Community Education & Workplace Training (CEWT) where she took a cross-stitch class as a youngster. After graduating from high school in 2000, she enrolled in the School of University Arts & Sciences and then graduated from the Business Administration Program. To round out her post-secondary, Seabrook attended BCIT, Thompson Rivers University and Royal Roads University.
“I chose Selkirk College because it was close to home and is an inexpensive way to try out different courses which helped me pick the path I wanted to go down,” says Seabrook, who has worked at Columbia Power for the last six years. “Selkirk helped me develop a baseline of business skills and worked as the perfect stepping stone toward achieving my undergraduate degree.”
Building a Relationship Into the Future
Last October, Columbia Power presented Selkirk College with a $30,000 contribution towards the multi-million dollar capital plan for Nelson’s Silver King Campus and the Castlegar Campus. It was just the latest step in a partnership that has been key in providing a regional solution to labour force demands.
The relationship goes much deeper with many full-time Columbia Power staff who are Selkirk College alumni. A number of ongoing educational ties include the Arrow Lakes Restoration Project which provides a field school for students in the Integrated Environmental Resource Planning Program. And this summer, Columbia Power joined in on the Selkirk College 50th Anniversary celebrations as one of the major corporate sponsors of the events and activities that will mark the golden occasion.
“We will continue to look to Selkirk College to supply well educated candidates,” says Marino. “Along with that is the ability for Selkirk College to provide training, development, and other types of courses for our current staff.”
Find out more about the Columbia Power Corporation at their website.