Aboriginal People in the Trades: Joe Sockabasin

Joe Sockabasin  and   John Deveau (Project Manager at HVET)

Joe Sockabasin and John Deveau (Project Manager at HVET)

When opportunity arises it can be life changing. Joe Sockabasin discovered this when he was asked to attend a seminar that would lead him into a 12 week course, training as a Heavy Equipment Operator.

“The training found me,” said Joe. “I was asked to attend a seminar on Heavy Equipment Operator training. They picked me and after I started, I liked it more and more.”

Joe is a member from the Tobique First Nation and had been doing on-the-job learning with his brother who is a licensed plumber since the age of 15. He’s also done work as a general labourer.

“I wanted to be in a trade,” said Joe. “I like Math and Science but I don’t enjoy writing so working in trades was something I wanted to do. I worked as a general labourer for 2 years and it was hard work and long hours. Being on the machine is much better.”

The Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) training program put on by JEDI and High Velocity Equipment Training (HVET) lasted 12 weeks. During this time, students learned how to operate many pieces of heavy machinery including a skid steer, excavator, bulldozer, backhoe, and front end loader. Joe enjoyed the excavator the most.

“At first I was kind of intimidated by the excavator,” said Joe. “It has a lot of controls so you need to have good hand, foot, and eye coordination which I developed quickly. It soon became memory and now I just want to keep jumping in it. I started with the mini-excavator and then I moved onto the big one. I didn’t want to get out of that one.”

In the last 5 weeks of the program, students gained practical experience by doing job site work on several projects within the community which benefited both students and community members.

Since his graduation, Joe has been pursuing several job prospects.

“I am on hold for 4 companies out West, they have sent me online assessments to do. I am waiting to hear back from them, I could easily move out West. I also met with the owner of Valcon, a local company. Out West, they are looking for operators with a lot of hours, so I may need to get experience here first.”

Joe continues to work towards his goals and thanks his girlfriend for her help and on-going support. He also offers advice to others who are interested in the same career path.

“Don’t rush it, listen, and take your time. It is all trial and error, you have to mess up to learn, so have patience.”

JEDI would like to wish Joe all the best and congratulates him on successfully completing the HEO course.