A unique, inspiring journey to build a bright future
College of the Rockies People: Their Courage, Curiosity, and Contributions
College of the Rockies student Destyni Basil is passionate about three things: her daughter, her community, and now, heavy duty mechanics. That last one came as a bit of a surprise, even to her.
“When I was looking into going to school, I originally wanted to either take automotive mechanics or culinary arts,” she said. “Someone asked me if I had ever considered heavy duty mechanics. I thought to myself, ‘if I’m going to go into mechanics, I may as well go big’.”
“I was very nervous about starting school. I had been through a lot in my life, and I really had to pull my life together so that I could have a chance. The first day I didn’t even know the names of the tools. My instructor was so kind and helped me to deal with my fears and made me feel comfortable.”
With her desire to make a better life for her daughter her primary driving force, Basil completed the foundation Heavy Mechanical program at College of the Rockies. She then quickly found work with a logging company in Creston before returning to the college to complete her Red Seal Apprenticeship Year 2.
Although focused on building a bright future, Basil never forgot where she came from. A member of the Lower Kootenay Band (Yaquan Nukiy), it is important to her to be a source of inspiration for other Band members.
“I want to be a role model for my people, and I know that doing well at school and giving back to my community is the best way to do that.”
To that end, Basil served for over three years as a council member with her Band’s Social Investment sector, stepping down only when another opportunity to advance her career came her way: College of the Rockies’ Mining Apprenticeship program.
The Mining Apprenticeship program (MAP) is an innovative training model that allows Heavy Duty Equipment Technician and Industrial Electrician apprentices to complete their technical training at the college and their work experience hours at MAP partner work sites, with the college acting as sponsors.
“Unfortunately, I had to step down from my council position with my reserve to take on the position that I have now with MAP,” said Basil. “It was really hard for me to step away, but I felt it was the right thing to do. If I want to see change in my community, it would be foolish of me to pass up an opportunity for something that I’ve worked so hard to do, but yet tell my people to go be and do better for themselves.”
That was not the only opportunity to create change in a community that Basil has embraced. She jumped at the offer to travel to Tanzania, in East Africa, as part of an ongoing project between College of the Rockies and the Mwanza (Tanzania) Regional Vocational Training Service Centre.
“The college has been working in Tanzania to help increase the numbers of women choosing to go into a skilled trade. They have asked me to come speak to Tanzanian students about my experience as a woman in trades. I was excited to have the opportunity to learn about other cultures and to share my story. I never could have imagined that my path at the college would take me this far.”
Basil’s time in Tanzania helped her to realize how connected she is to other women in the skilled trades, regardless of cultural difference or geographic location.
“It’s like we’re all in this little group, if that makes sense. You see a woman in a male dominated trade and you automatically think – ‘good for you, you go’! And it feels like it is our own little thing that we all share.”
Currently completing the final year of her Heavy Duty Equipment Technician Apprenticeship training, Basil hopes to find employment at a local mine. She also wants to continue to be a source of inspiration for her daughter, her community, and for women who are contemplating entering the skilled trades.