Métis man on verge of completing college course following significant career change

By Sam Laskaris
Cando Contributor

Wyatt DraycottNow more than ever Wyatt Draycott is feeling content with a major life decision he made.

Draycott, who lives in Cold Lake, Alta., had spent 20 years working as an industrial surveyor. He was even in charge of his own company during the last five years in that field.

But Draycott, a 47-year-old member of the Metis Nation of Alberta, gave up his career in February of 2020 in order to return to school.

Draycott is now in the final months of being a student in the two-year Natural Resources Technology Program, offered at Portage College in Lac La Biche.

The school is about a 90-minute drive from his home. He’s spent a good chunk of his second year living in a dorm at the school and returning home on weekends.

“I’m comfortable with what I’m doing,” Draycott said. “I’ve gained a lot of knowledge.”

Draycott is also grateful that for the second straight year he’s a recipient of the Indigenous Scholarship Program.

This initiative was launched after officials from the CIBC and the National Indigenous Economic Education Fund, Cando’s charitable organization, teamed up to provide the scholarship program.

For four years, from 2019 until 2022, the program is offering a total of $44,000 each year to eight scholarship winners. They will share between $2,000 to $10,000 each.

Draycott’s share for the second straight year was $5,000.

As was the case when he first found out he was a scholarship recipient, Draycott was equally amazed to be told he would benefit once again.

“I never win anything,” he said.

Though he left his surveying career behind in early 2020, Draycott had been thinking of doing so for a number of years before that.

Since he had dropped out of school when he was 14 and in Grade 10, he had to first earn his high school equivalency diploma before he was able to apply to college. That process took him a couple of years.

Draycott had been making a six-figure salary from his previous career working as a surveyor.

But he was not happy with the work he was doing.

“I’m happier now,” he said. “A change is just as good as a rest.”

And now that he is almost finished his college program, Draycott has started to think about what type of work he’ll be able to land.

Last summer he had worked in the Alberta village of Marwayne. He was the supervisor of wellsite decommissioning and eventual reclamation project.

Draycott might explore the possibilities of returning to that company.

But ideally, he would love to gain employment working as a bear technician with the government agency Alberta Parks.

He’d love to work outdoors in this position, tracking bear movements and interacting with the public to keep them safe and aware of bears’ presence.

“I really hope to get a call back on that job,” Draycott said.