Jay Charleyboy

Construction Craft Worker, 2017

  • What were you doing before you entered the Construction Craft Worker program?

Before entering the Construction Craft Worker Program I was working in the Foods industry, particularly as the Assistant Manager at the Kekuli Café in West Kelowna. Prior to that, I was at home for about 5 years raising my youngest daughter. And prior to that I had also been doing some construction work in Vancouver.


  • What made you decide to enroll in the construction Craft worker program here at the college?

Actually a friend of mine recommended the program to me, and given the expansion and construction that was going on in Kelowna, it seemed like it would be a good fit. I also recognized that I didn’t want to stay in the foods industry and had wanted to get back into the construction industry for some time. So once my youngest daughter turned 5 and started going to school, I decided that I’d start going to school too. This program and industry seemed like a good option to support my family.

  • What do you enjoy most about construction craft work?

I love being able to take an idea and make it a reality. With this kind of work, you’re building something out of nothing. You’ve got your plan in place, and it takes a lot of skill to implement that plan. You get to create things that are functional, like buildings, which will probably be around for a hundred years, so in a way you’re almost making your mark in history. 

  • How were you able to balance family life with your school & work?

It was a bit tough at first but we got into a routine pretty quickly. My daughters were 15, 13 and 11 when I was going to school, so they were pretty self-sufficient. I would leave for school about an hour before they would, and we’d all get home around the same time. We’d all have homework in the evenings so we’d all sit down together and do it either before dinner or before bed. My oldest daughter, who’s an honor roll student, even helped me with my homework sometimes! But honestly, it was so nice having my girls around in the evenings. They’re supportive and encouraging, so it was great to have them around to keep me company.

  • Is there anything that really stood out to you that set the program here at the college apart from similar trades programs?

Well I had been to Okanagan College before and taken the auto body program, so I had a pretty good idea how good the programs were at OC. I did really like how this program was a Red Seal program though, that was a huge deciding factor for me. To my knowledge the Construction Craft Worker has not been implemented anywhere else in BC, so being in this program was the first of its kind, and essentially a chance to make history. But I especially liked that this particular program was being offered specifically to First Nations. Being in a classroom among peers and other First Nations was a great experience. It was a supportive and comfortable learning environment and I think everyone felt very welcomed.

  • What did it mean to you to be able to train in an all-Aboriginal setting?

I just think it made the transition into the classroom a little easier. We all come from similar backgrounds and have similar values, so we all got to be really good friends and created a totally comfortable environment for ourselves.


  • How did the opportunity come up to become a peer mentor?

Actually they approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in helping out. Given that I’d done well in the first part of the program, I was happy to come back and help out those that were starting out in the program. I think I’m an easy person to talk to and have pretty good communication skills, so I knew I could help mentor the next generation of Construction Craft Workers coming through the ranks. 

  • Are there moments that have stood out to you during your time as a peer mentor?

The first few days of socializing and getting to know everybody was really fun. It was great to bond over conversations about what people’s lives are all about, what their goals are, what their struggles are etc. Peer mentoring was actually so much more than just support in the classroom, I always had my phone on and would be available to take calls at any time from students. As First Nations we tend to look out for each other in that way, so I made sure to make myself available outside of classroom hours as much as I could.

  • How would you describe the importance that support programs like peer mentorship play in the success of students here at the college?

I definitely think there’s a ton of value in peer mentorship for students. What better way to give them some insight into what they can expect while taking the program, than from someone who’s already been through it. That said, I also think it’s great when peer mentors have additional experience in the industry as well. In my case, I’d worked in lots of different construction settings, so not only was I providing classroom experience, I could also speak to what life was going to be like when they were finished school and out in the work force.

  • What advice would you give to the students working or considering this program?

I would say if you’re brand new to the construction industry, this would definitely be a great program for you. It’s a brand new program that’s Red Seal certified and is recognized all across Canada. And what better place to do it than Kelowna! Okanagan College has state of the art facilities, and some of best quality tools you can find. And the program is very manageable as long as you apply yourself and come to class wanting to learn.  

Also, just in general, I would say to students to make sure you keep pushing at times when you meet resistance. If you have goals and dreams, don’t ever give up on them. There’s nothing you can’t learn with some teaching, so don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t achieve something.

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