Trade Exploration Profile: Josh Thomas

“It has given me more confidence in class because I know I’m not the only one ‘facing the same barriers.’”

When Josh Thomas was 12 years old, he left his home of Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, just west of Fort Fraser. He travelled between Burns Lake and Prince George for a number of years before finally settling down in B.C.’s northern capital.

When Josh was 16, he was involved in an accident with a train where he sustained injuries to 75 per cent of his head. Miraculously, Josh survived and spent a number of years in rehabilitation at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver.

Eventually, a social worker introduced Josh to the Prince George Brain Injury Group (PG BIG) where he learned the skills needed to feel comfortable with his injury.

“I used to be a tattoo artist and was involved in activities that weren’t healthy,” he said. “PG BIG has really helped me move past all that and live a healthier life.”

Josh enrolled in the Professional Cook Program through Chippewa Valley Technical College but started going through some hard times and ended up dropping out.

In 2019, Josh was chosen as one of eight students to participate in a new Trades Exploration Program at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) in Prince George.  

The program, which is a first for British Columbia, was developed to help underemployed and unemployed individuals with brain injuries explore trades occupations as a carpenter, automotive service technician, and professional cook as well as gain the skills needed to obtain entry into in those industries.

 The Industry Training Authority (ITA) and PG BIG partnered with the Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) and CNC to fund and deliver this innovative 12-week pilot program.  

The program has helped Josh regain his focus, get back on track and reignited his passion for cooking. He is looking at doing some upgrading so he can explore opportunities to apply to the Professional Cook program and ultimately achieve Red Seal Certification.

“Everyone in the program understands me and is supportive of me,” Josh said. “It has given me more confidence in class because I know I’m not the only one ‘facing the same barriers.’”

Josh has found that he’s able to socialize with other people more because of his involvement with the program. “People with brain injuries can do the same things as people without brain injuries, just in a different way,” he said.

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