The Ontario government is investing more than $3.7 million into the construction careers for members of Treaty #3 First Nation communities.

Yesterday (November 9, 2021), Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford alongside Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development made the announcement at the Seven Generations Education Institute.

The investment will go towards training 110 members of Treaty #3 communities and allow them a rewarding career in construction. The training will give them the skills needed to assist in the twinning of the TransCanada Highway 17.

“Our province faces a severe shortage of skilled workers, with tens of thousands of jobs in construction going unfilled daily,” said Minister McNaughton. “Many of these jobs pay six figures, with pension and benefits. Today’s investment will give First Nations people in Northern Ontario the training and skills they need to open the door to these meaningful career opportunities, helping build better lives for themselves and their loved ones.”

Each member will be provided up to $3,000 to cover costs such as transportation, childcare, and other expenses that could be a barrier. The training will run from March 2021 until July 2023.

Graduates of the training program will be able to pursue jobs as construction craft workers, heavy equipment operators, general construction workers, and concrete workers. Some of these jobs pay as high as $44 an hour.

Members of the Niiwin Wendaanimok, which represent the four Kenora area First Nations in Treaty #3 territory were on hand to speak on the importance of this provincial investment. The communities involved include Washagamis Bay First Nation, Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, Wauzhusk Onigum First Nation, and Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation.

“A lot of keywords out there are reconciliation, and now economic reconciliation is the keyword that comes to mind. Now we’re starting to get involved in a lot of projects. All of it boils down to the people,” said Chief Chris Skead, Wauzhushk Onigum Nation.

"Historically, we Anishinaabeg in Treaty 3 held a key position in the governance, the economy and especially the transportation system of Turtle Island. With the support of some Supreme Court decisions and some willing partners, we are now reclaiming that position. This training project developed by our company in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is another step along our road to full participation in the life and economy of our Treaty territory. Fasten your seatbelt, there is so much more to come. " added Chief Lorraine Cobiness, Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation

The project will prioritize First Nation people who are unemployed, underemployed, or at risk of losing their jobs, and put them in a successful construction career.

“Our government is once again demonstrating its commitment to supporting the skilled trades while promoting inclusion and opportunities in Indigenous communities,” said Minister Rickford. “Today’s investments will help to further bridge the opportunity gap for Indigenous workers, their families, and their communities. This project will be a game-changer for many of Kenora’s Indigenous peoples who can now look forward to a more prosperous, secure future.”

Yesterday’s announcement will address this skills gap some First Nations members face by providing participants with a variety of free training programs, including secondary school upgrading, driver’s education, workplace safety and certification, and skills training needed for Highway 17 and other projects.