The Mount Currie Indian Band is looking at a number of different approaches toward economic opportunities for its members.
According to Robert Corman, the band's employment manager, 340 of Mount Currie's 1,350 residents currently leave the reserve each day to work in Pemberton and Whistler.
That number could rise due to a couple of native-hiring programs at Whistler-Blackcomb resort and the Miller Creek hydroelectric project.
"There are a number of diverse work opportunities at Whistler-Blackcomb," said Corman. "It's not just a ski mountain, but a retail and restaurant operation too."
Whistler-Blackcomb held an employment information seminar Aug. 21 in Mount Currie. Approximately 70 people attended the meeting.
The resort will be hiring 2,500 employees to meet its staffing needs for this winter.
"They could literally hire the entire town," Corman told Pique Newsmagazine , adding that a more realistic number is a couple dozen.
Mount Currie's unemployment rate is 26 per cent, which is about average for native communities in Canada.
"But it is lower than some resource-dependent towns," Corman said.
B.C.'s unemployment rate averages between 7-9 per cent.
According to Corman, the controversial Cayoosh ski resort development could also provide employment opportunities for Mount Currie band members.
The proposed resort is located between Pemberton and Lillooet in the Melvin Creek area. Natives call the area Sutikalh, home of the winter spirit.
The Mount Currie band has voted overwhelmingly in favour of rejecting the proposal because of land claim grievances and environmental concerns.
The 10 other St'at'imc First Nations have also voiced their opposition towards the resort.
"There are some people interested in the project and there are others who aren't," said Corman.
Mount Currie has also signed an agreement with the owners of the Miller Creek hydroelectric project to give band members first crack at the 500 construction jobs. Construction of the project is slated to start this month.
The band will assume part ownership of the project, located about five kilometres north of Pemberton, once it becomes profitable.
The band has also developed a variety of local employment opportunities such as thrift and sporting goods stores and a sign-building manufacturer.
Creekside Resources Inc., the band's business arm, provides work for residents through contracts with the provincial forests and fisheries ministries and B.C. Hydro.
Corman said a number of college-level training courses are also currently being offered in Mount Currie.
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