Aboriginal People in the Trades: Henry Perley

Henry Perley and John Deveau (Project Manager at HVET)

Henry Perley and John Deveau (Project Manager at HVET)

Henry Perley didn’t always want to work in the trades. In fact, he studied criminology for 2 years at Saint Thomas University (STU) before he decided that it wasn’t for him.

Henry is from Tobique First Nation and when his community put on an Employment and Training program where people could explore different options in the trades, Henry applied for it and chose to job-shadow the Heavy Equipment Operator trade as it was the most appealing to him.

“I did enjoy studying at STU but it wasn’t for me,” said Henry. “When I jumped into this program, it changed my aspect on what I wanted to do with my life. I decided I wanted to be an operator instead of sitting behind a desk.”

The job-shadowing program with Tobique led Henry to the Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) training program put on by JEDI and High Velocity Equipment Training (HVET). HVET’s course ran for 12 weeks in Tobique and the students learned how to operate a skid steer, bulldozer, backhoe, excavator, and a front end loader. Henry was one of the 16 Heavy Equipment Operators who graduated from this program this July.

Henry enjoyed learning and mastering all of the techniques needed for running the equipment.

“The excavator is my favourite piece of equipment,” said Henry. “I feel really comfortable in it.  You can climb any hill no matter how steep, it is really great. I like running all of the machines. As a kid, you play in the sandbox with all of your toys and now I have bigger toys, which is better.”

Henry started working with Valcon in Perth on July 21st, immediately after graduation. He is looking forward to getting some experience locally and cashing in on his training.

“I’d like to thank JEDI for funding me and for thinking I’m a great candidate for the program,” said Henry. “I’d also like to thank John Deveau, the instructors, and my family for supporting me along the way.”

Henry had some advice to others considering the Heavy Equipment Operator trade, “Be confident. You may not get the hang of it at first but it will come. You just need time in the machine. You will get better and better each day. On the simulator I flipped the excavator 5 times, but when I got in the excavator for real, I didn’t flip it. Have no fear.”

JEDI would like to congratulate Henry on successfully completing the HEO course and we wish him all the best in his future career.