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Whistler and Mount Currie to learn together

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The Office of Learning Technologies and Human Resources Development Canada has granted the Resort Municipality of Whistler $300 000 over the next three years to develop Whistler and Mount Currie as a "learning community."

The aim of the project is to use the available technology to assist Whistler and Mount Currie locals to further their formal or informal education.

"The thing with a learning community is it encompasses more than just formal education, we really want to promote what is happening in this community and get more involved and more engaged in local and life knowledge," said Whistler Project Co-ordinator Stephanie Wells.

"We want community members to be able to find out about learning opportunities and how they may be able to achieve their learning objectives without leaving the comforts of this community," she said.

The Learning Community Project committee is made up of partners from The RMOW, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Capilano College, the Whistler Public Library, School District 48, Mount Currie and local citizens representing each sector of the community.

The project began in April of this year and has so far developed a Web site where community members can access learning information and resources at www.whistlerchamber.com.

The site provides links to local learning opportunities such as classroom training, Chamber of Commerce training programs, links to the open learning agencies, and post-secondary distance education programs.

The project has also opened a learning hub at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce building which is becoming a focal point for community learning and a source of information and guidance on current initiatives and learning opportunities.

"If they want to upgrade their skills through formal education by getting a P.E.D or a masters degree online, they can do that. Or if they want to improve their informal education, such as learning more about where the bear presentations are or the Whistler naturalists Society, they can do that too.

"If you’re looking to learn anything at all, that’s where you go," said Wells.

Mount Currie has a separate Web site at www.lilwatnation.com that is in its final stages of completion and their learning hub is expected to be ready within the next month.

Mount Currie will have their learning hub in the Ts’zil Learning Centre, a 10- classroom college where clients can receive literature on courses offered in the Sea to Sky corridor and receive courses online.

"One of the goals is to be able to incorporate both of our Web sites somehow so that the community knows what’s happening there (in Mount Currie) and can access programs there and as well Mount Currie here," said Wells.

The project committee also plans to develop a workforce training strategy with Mount Currie to increase Mount Currie’s skill base to fill jobs in the Whistler market.

"The program will focus on skills development, what skills are required for Whistler, what skills do the people of Mount Currie already have, what jobs Whistler has and how we can overcome obstacles," said Wells.

"In September we’re bringing those partners (in Mount Currie) together to develop the strategy and discuss possible mentorship, or apprenticeship programs to bring more of the First Nations culture into our cultural makeup in Whistler," said Wells.

Director of Community Advancement Programs for Mount Currie Christine Leo said: "Through the Learning Communities partnership, the Mount Currie Nation is looking forward to a stronger relationship with the Resort Municipality of Whistler in various areas.

"We feel this is a positive step in building partnerships in the areas of community development, economic development, and human resource development," she said.

Wells said that the model for the workforce training strategy is still being built.

"The first year is a lot of benchmarking and partnership building and just starting to put those things on the table," she said.

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