October 3, 2023 (Fort St. John, BC) – All Roads: Sky Keepers graduate Tiffany recently made the jump from program alum to contracting for energy company AltaGas, a company connecting customers and markets to reliable sources of energy.
Support from the CFBC-funded Sky Keepers program was a catalyst for Tiffany to successfully secure a contract job assisting company H&K Agents with drone imaging and mapping for AltaGas on a number of job sites over a two-day span.
Through Sky Keepers, Tiffany received a Transport Canada-issued Advanced Drone Certificate. In addition to certification, she and fellow Sky Keeper graduates also received general safety certifications including WHMIS and Food Safe, as well as computer training, financial literacy lessons, cultural connection, and essential skills workshops throughout the duration of the program.
“Sky Keepers was a really good experience,” said Tiffany. “It was a lot of fun, too. All the girls got pretty close with each other, so that was a really fun part of it. It was the first time working with drones and learning about them.”
Drone training for Sky Keepers was delivered by Aboriginal Training Services (ATS), the parent company of H&K Agents. ATS is an Indigenous-owned company developing and delivering training programs targeted specifically for the use of Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) in areas of consultation, surveying and emergency management.
The image and mapping work for AltaGas has required the operation of the DJI M30T and Maverick 3 Enterprise drones, models that include features such as Ground Penetrating Radar and 200x zoom capabilities.
“Time was spent going through the safety protocols of airmanship and putting the drones into action and capturing the data,” said H&K Agents owner-operator Darcy Hunt. “Tiffany was not only assisting but capturing some of the data on her own. It’s the best type of training that anyone could get.”
One of Sky Keepers initial graduates, Tiffany found a passion for the drone component of the program and has already acquired a pair of certificates related to drone operation, which helped in her re-introduction to operating one, having not done so since graduating last spring.
“It was pretty cool flying drones outside of the program,” said Tiffany. “I was a little nervous at first because it’s been a while since the program ended and that was my first job, but Darcy let me do some video and take some pictures, too.”
Hunt describes Tiffany’s current position to an apprenticeship with regards to learning on the job and noted that her success is a prime example of the untapped opportunities available in the RPAS industry for Sky Keepers graduates and for others.
“I think this is one of the best routes to go because she was able to feel what it’s like to be out in the field and not only deliver a product or a service, but earn some money as well,” added Hunt. “She demonstrated what she learned. She put into practice getting the drone set up and she took notes. She was there on time, gave feedback when it was relevant, and I think she was really excited about the whole thing and looking forward to the next job.”
Tiffany echoed Hunt’s sentiments about future work.
“I’m definitely interested in continuing to do it and learning how to do it better,” she said.
Sky Keepers thanks ATCO Frontec, Enbridge Pipelines, TC Energy, Pembina Pipelines, Petronas and Canfor Forestry for their support of the program.
For more information on the work being done by the Construction Foundation of BC and to donate, please visit constructionfoundation.ca.