Childhood dreams become an everyday reality for Eunice Charles

For as long as she can remember, Eunice Charles has always had a passion for and interest in our oceans. Growing up in a fishing community in Beecher Bay, B.C., she experienced the unique connection that her friends and family have to the ocean that sustain their way of life. While Eunice always dreamed of being able to transform her childhood dreams into a career, she didn’t know how it could all be possible.

The answer became clear to her one day after attending a lunchtime information session on the Marine Training Programs available to Sc'ianew (Beecher Bay) First Nations members. That memorable lunch led to Eunice being invited to join the Bridge Watch Rating Program, funded under the Government of Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan. Eunice returned to work and handed in her two weeks' notice that very same day. It signaled the start of a new chapter for Eunice, and a chance to chase her childhood dreams.

Shortly after starting the program through the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and Camosun College, Eunice’s days became filled with learning technical skills, from wire and rope splicing, to brushing up on first-aid skills and taking radio-handling courses. The simulation room was a highlight as she could put her new skills to the test alongside her classmates. While some days were overwhelming with the amount of information to remember, Eunice found that notetaking and highlighting important textbook information was helpful. She was in good company at BCIT and Camosun, as her cousin was completing the program at the same time. Once the two graduated, her cousin’s son ended up enrolling in the same course too.

Happily, Eunice was able to connect with her current employer, Horizon Maritime, before attending classes through the Bridge Watch Program. To be hired, however, she needed to have her grades in good standing order and learn the skills that she acquired at BCIT before going out into the world.

Fast-forward to today, Eunice has now graduated and is looking forward to the next chapter that awaits her. In her current role as a deckhand for Horizon Maritime, no two days are the same. Some days, her crew is supporting supply runs for oil rigs, which involves loading up their deck with essential supplies. Other days, she's performing maintenance on the boat, from greasing winches, to sanitizing tanks, and even painting.

Eunice Charles

A British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) graduate, Eunice Charles now works as a deckhand for Horizon Maritime.

"It's been a crazy year since graduating – I never knew that I would get to travel to the places that I've been, including Scotland, the Netherlands, and Newfoundland and Labrador," Eunice says.

To date, Eunice has also been interviewed for two newspaper pieces and has been featured in several articles for BCIT. She adds that while she knows that her chosen career path may not be for everyone, she still likes to share the stories of what she does and the many great things about it. Eunice plans to continue moving forward with Horizon Maritime, and working on oil spill response initiatives in her own community of Sc’ianew.

Stories like Eunice Charles’ highlight why it is so important for the government to work with Indigenous Peoples and their communities, academia, and industry. Because more vessels and goods are being transported on Canadian waters than ever before, the need for a strong, diverse, and skilled marine workforce is critical. And thanks to investments made under the Marine Training Program, the community of Sc’ianew now has four new members entering the industry to strengthen Canada’s marine safety system.