In the early 1990’s a group of Nautical Institute (NI) members recognized that Canadians with Watch Keeping Mates or 4th Class Marine Engineer certificates were unable to gain seatime to progress towards the senior levels of certification. This group developed a plan which included the following elements:

(a) fundraising,

(b) lobbying international operators to provide unpaid training positions for holders of WKM/Fourth Class ME certificates,

(c) selecting suitable candidates for training positions, and

(d) paying a stipend of $1,000.00 per month for a maximum of six months to the trainees.

They found a number of shipping companies which provided the training positions and the costs of joining and leaving their vessels. It was a reflection of the quality of the trainees that several were placed on salary by the company after only a few months on board, or were offered salaried positions if they returned after the initial training period.

Seventy two applicants holding WKM/Fourth Class ME certificates were interviewed and twenty two were subsequently appointed to training positions.

The ad hoc committee became the Nautical Professional Education Society of British Columbia (NPESBC) by incorporation on 10 February 1995. It later changed its name to the Nautical Professional Education Society of Canada (NPESC). The Provincial government provided a grant of $76,000 to assist in the aims of the Society. The Company of Master Mariners of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Marine Engineers and the BC Branch of the Nautical Institute became affiliated members. The initial aims of the Society were achieved.

With the passage of time conditions in the marine industry changed. International operators recognized the quality of Canadian officers and employment opportunities and salaries in foreign flag vessels increased. Then a Cadet Program was started at the Marine Campus of BCIT.

The Society determined that the original focus was no longer appropriate and a decision was made to transfer the Society’s funds to the BCIT Foundation and to the Vancouver Foundation, to provide incomes for scholarships to Deck and Engineering Cadets in the BCIT Cadet program.

Since 2009 the “Vancouver Foundation” Bursary has been offered to students enrolled in any approved marine training course in British Columbia. The Society began the scholarship program in 2001.