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Lil’wat Nation key part of 2010 private security

Lyle Leo’s goal is to recruit and train 2,000 Aboriginal security personnel



Part of the job may be dealing with drunken partiers, another part may be braving the temperamental elements, and yet another is the long evening shifts.

But that doesn't matter to 23-year-old Darren Whitford, of Mount Currie.

"I loved it," he said of his first security guard shift at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard festival last week. "It's by far one of the best jobs I've had."

Whitford is one of eight Mount Currie residents who recently completed a two-week basic security training course, allowing them to work events like the TWSSF festival. That training and job experience is paving the way for work during the 2010 Winter Games and beyond, and changing the face of private security in the Sea to Sky corridor.

Lil'wat Nation entrepreneur Lyle Leo is at the forefront in the drive to have First Nations involvement as security guards during the Games.

He has submitted a proposal to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada for funding to recruit and train 2,000 Aboriginal people from across the country as security guards. This will, he said, promote and enhance the economic wellbeing of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

"We're on the cutting edge with Aboriginal participation in security," said Leo. "We would be setting a precedent."

Already Leo is setting a precedent closer to home.

Last year his business, T'musta7 Aboriginal Consulting Services, signed a three-year joint venture deal with United Protection Security Group (UPSG) to explore business opportunities for security officer training with Lil'wat Nation, leading up to the Games.

On Friday the RCMP announced that UPSG is one of a consortium of three companies that will provide private security during the Games, at a cost of almost $100 million (see related story).

With a need to fill at least 5,300 positions in 2010, security guards like Whitford will be filling a crucial role.

"There's no way to get enough (security guards) locally," said Ken Robertson, the UPSG director of business development for British Columbia.

Twenty-five Mount Currie residents have been trained to date. The goal, said Robertson, is to train around 300 people from First Nations communities in the surrounding area.

"There's a lot of work coming up," said Robertson, with tremendous potential for the partnerships to continue following the Games.

Aeroguard, for example, which provides security for airports across the country, is also part of the consortium and is willing to take on 300 Aboriginal guards that are bilingual after the Games.

"It's about building partnerships, which is very exciting," said Leo.

In his new UPSG uniform at the base of the main stage in Skiers Plaza, Whitford is excited about what's to come.

He's used to the seasonal construction industry in Whistler and has worked on the library, the First Nations cultural centre and the biathlon course in the Callaghan. As a security guard he could have year-round work.

"Any job opportunity they throw at me," said Whitford. "I'm good to go."