The McLeod Lake Indian Band (MLIB) – one of the Treaty 8 First Nations whose Traditional Territory is impacted by the Site C project – has been working to ensure that community members are able to take advantage of the opportunities that this major project offers. The band’s education department has been working with the College of New Caledonia to set up relevant training programs for band members at their campus in Mackenzie.
Beginning in September 2019, a group of students from the community has been participating in a Carpentry Foundations program. The initial focus was on upgrading Math and English skills. Once this was completed, the participants moved into a preapprenticeship curriculum, and are scheduled to complete Level 1 Carpentry – recognized by ITA – at the end of April.
At the end of February, AFDE’s Troy Van Bostelen visited the trades centre in Mackenzie and met with the class, their instructor, and a representative from the band’s employment and education department. He gave a presentation on the work AFDE is doing at Site C and the opportunities for apprenticeships.
As a follow-up, the class visited our project on March 6, 2020. After a brief orientation, the students headed down to the site, touring the fabrication shop, intakes and penstocks, and the powerhouse. Led by AFDE field supervisors, they were given invaluable insight into what work on a large-scale industrial project looks like. They were able to view plans and ask questions about the different forming systems that AFDE is using, and to get an interactive, up-close feel for the work environment and the safety measures that are in place to control such a busy site.
The highlight was the tour of the powerhouse, which was led by AFDE Labour Foreman Jeremy Cayouette, who is also a member of MLIB. Jeremy was confident as he led the group through the heart of the Powerhouse and displayed real pride in the work. Recognizing a familiar face from their community who is in a leadership position made the opportunities with AFDE very real for the students.
AFDE also made arrangements with ATCO to lead a tour of the Two Rivers Lodge facilities and to provide lunch. This part of the tour was also very well received. It gave the students a good understanding of what living conditions at the camp are like and what amenities are available to them outside of work hours.
The uncertainty surrounding the suspension of our work due to the Covid-19 pandemic is unfortunate, but in anticipation of a return to work, these students have the benefit of a greater understanding of what opportunities are available in their trade.