The City of Calgary partners with Siksika Nation to train new cohort of safety code officers
Collaboration is at the heart of mentorship, which is something Rob Leishman at The City of Calgary knows all about.
As a Level 3 Safety Codes Officer, Leishman has been spending one day a week for the past year acting as mentor to 15 tradespeople as part of the innovative Siksika Nation Safety Codes Officer Program. He has helped tutor program participants, providing his professional insight and experience as they complete their coursework to pursue certification under the Alberta Safety Codes Officer Program.
“Through training its own Safety Codes Officers, Siksika Nation can become accredited as Authority Having Jurisdiction and have the in-house expertise to ensure its housing units and other buildings are built to comply with the building code,” Leishman said.
The Siksika Nation Safety Codes Officer Program trains local qualified Indigenous tradespeople to become Safety Codes Officers. It is a first-of-its-kind, collaborative project between Siksika Nation, Alberta Municipal Affairs, Human Services Alberta, and The City of Calgary. It was initiated by Siksika pursuing alternative solutions to the challenges of building in accordance to the National and Provincial Building Codes, particularly following the 2013 flood and subsequent new Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CHMC) regulations. It is supported through grants provided by Alberta Community and Social Services – Human Services and Alberta Works.
Gilles Allard, at Alberta Municipal Affairs, has been involved in coordinating the training program and highlights the positive impact that mentorship can have on entire communities.
“The mentees not only will have the opportunity to invest their new skills to help build a self-reliant and economically independent nation, but through this training and mentorship program, and the connections they are making, they have a solid career path ahead that can have them work anywhere in Alberta,” Allard said.
For Carla Calf, participating in the Siksika Nation Safety Codes Officer Program has offered her just that – the skills to build a career path that will allow her to support her community in Siksika Nation.
“One of the main reasons I took this training is to work toward my long-term goal of becoming a Housing Manager at one of our First Nations communities,” says Calf. “I have a bigger voice now.”
On May 10, seven of Leishman’s mentees graduated from the program, earning their certification as Siksika Nation’s first qualified Safety Codes Officers.
The City of Calgary is excited about the partnership and what it means for Siksika Nation in the future. Ulrik Seward, Managing Chief, Approvals, credits The City’s culture of mentorship and seasoned in-house expertise as leading to the exceptional success of what began as a pilot program.
“Aligning with the Building Safety service in Planning and Development, this mentorship program will not only help Siksika build safe places to live, work, and play, but also add a new cohort of Safety Codes Officers in the region,” Seward said. “Siksika’s efforts have helped establish a model for other First Nations to train Safety Codes Officers to serve their communities in the future.”
Leishman feels the opportunity to act as a mentor has been “transformative” for everyone involved.
“For me, it’s been an honour to be a part of these students’ learning journey and to give back to the community and my profession,” he said. “Helping them grasp key concepts and seeing them apply their knowledge has been a very fulfilling experience.”