Partnerships in the oilfield
Whitefish Lake First Nation, Enbridge
join to bring training and jobs to youth
When the Whitefish Lake First Nation No. 128 approached Enbridge last year with a proposal to partner in a pipeline skills training program, the answer was â€œyes.â€
â€œIt was very doable. It was a real easy one for us to be a part of,â€ says Jordan Duguay, an Edmonton-based Aboriginal business advisor with Enbridgeâ€™s Aboriginal Affairs division.
Enbridge strives to create opportunities that are aligned with the aspirations of Aboriginal communities near their projects and operations â€“ and Enbridge, alongside contractor Banister Pipelines, was one of the first companies to respond to Rennie Houleâ€™s request for help from industry partners.
As the employment training co-ordinator with the Whitefish Lake First Nation, Houle plays a lead role in developing initiatives that help advance economic development in the northern Alberta Aboriginal community.
About 1,500 of the 2,500 Whitefish Lake First Nation No. 128 members live on the reserve 220 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. While an industrial dry-cleaning plant and garment factory provide some employment; many of the reserveâ€™s younger residents are forced to seek work outside the community and away from home . They often encounter barriers to employment because of a lack of skills and training.
The bandâ€™s leadership is trying to change that situation â€“ aiming to enrich lives and brighten futures within its community, by embracing the challenge of economic renewal.
â€œOur leadershipâ€™s focus has always been to mobilize our people to a workforce,â€ says Houle.
Pipeline construction training was identified a couple of years ago as a potential initiative â€“ and when Enbridge began advertising labour-force needs for its Wood Buffalo and Woodland Pipeline extension projects, Houle saw an opportunity to make something happen. He plugged into the local labour union, Local 92, and the two organizations soon developed an introduction-to-pipelines program that could be offered in the community.
After Enbridge entered the partnership, Duguay worked with Banister Pipelines to ensure the trainees would have employment as well as skills. For the 15 band members who successfully completed the 10-week course last summer, there are Banister jobs waiting for graduates during the winter construction season.
â€œThatâ€™s one of the key items we consider for any training initiative â€“ whether these candidates will have a job to go to after the training,â€ says Duguay. â€œFrom Enbridgeâ€™s perspective, we are very happy Banister would guarantee the positions, and support our approach to maximizing local Aboriginal participation in our projects.â€
The outcome, says Houle, is a â€œwin-winâ€ for everyone.
â€œWe want to have a sincere partnership and they in turn, have been very sincere with training programs and partnering. They come to our table,â€ he says. â€œThey donâ€™t have to come to every meeting, but they do. When they show commitment like that, you work twice as hard.â€
â€“ story from the Enbridge blog.