BCAMTA graduates hired at New Gold (from left to right): Pat Gagnon, New Gold trainer; A.J. Lindley; Dustin Gordon; Denis DeRose; Darien Minnabarriet; Brad Neufeld; Cody Jules; and Leonard Jackson, BCAMTA regional manager | Photo courtesy of Nadine Israel, BCAMTA
A partnership of public- and private-sector players was formed recently to bring qualified Aboriginal candidates into the mining industry in British
Columbia. The group, consisting of mining companies, Aboriginal groups, educational institutions and the federal government, seeks to create job
opportunities and provide support for Aboriginals in the mining industry.
“Mining is the single largest private-sector employer of Aboriginals in Canada,” said Laurie Sterritt, executive director, B.C. Aboriginal Mine Training
Association (BCAMTA). “But relations between mining companies and Aboriginal communities where the mines operate are not always optimal. Our approach
offers stakeholders a new way to work together that creates the opportunity for employers, educators and BCAMTA candidates to really understand what each
of them needs to be successful,” she explained.
The British Columbia Aboriginal mine training partnership, established in October 2009, is running a three-year program that provides skills training in
mining for Aboriginals and prepares them for employment. The program is aimed at qualified candidates in the northwest and central interior of the
BCAMTA administers the project in conjunction with 16 partners, six of which have made commitments to provide 148 jobs for Aboriginal participants. The
partnership provides candidates with training-to-employment plans that cover academic upgrading, job-specific training and apprenticeships, retention
counselling and other on-the-job support.
“The partners are committed to ensuring that Aboriginal people fully share in economic opportunities created by the mineral exploration and mining
industry,” said BCAMTA chair Laureen Whyte in an announcement. “Aboriginal people in B.C. will have access to skills training to participate in the
exploration and mining industry, and industry will benefit from accessing a quality pool of workers,” she added.
Sterritt said BCAMTA works with its partners to reduce barriers for Aboriginals entering careers in mining. “We also provide candidates with a range of
opportunities – entry-level jobs, pre-trades training, apprenticeships and coaching to help them ladder-up to the next occupational level,” Whyte said.
The partnership, Sterritt explained, “provides a unique opportunity for partners with different points of view to come together and open the lines of
communication with each other. Our efforts are already creating tangible results for Aboriginal communities and our corporate partners.”
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is contributing $4.4 million dollars; cash and in-kind contributions from industry and associations account
for the remaining $22.7 million dollars required to support the 30-month program, including wages and benefits allocated to successfully employed
Leonard Jackson, BCAMTA program coach, explained that there are more than 200 applicants, over 125 candidates in various stages of training, and over 35
candidates in jobs as a result of the program. “In the central interior, we are working with two operating mines, Highland Valley Copper and New Afton, and
one developing mine in Princeton, Copper Mountain,” he said. “Candidates can apply to the program through the mining companies or they can come to the
BCAMTA offices first.”
“Some of the Aboriginals who apply for mining jobs don’t meet all the necessary qualifications,” Jackson said. “So we get involved to help provide them
with the types of skills upgrading they need in order to become better qualified.”
“At the pace we’re going, there is no reason why we won’t surpass our employment targets,” added Sterritt. “Our candidates are consistently coming in
strong on skills-assessments and they are really getting noticed by employers. We are preparing BCAMTA candidates to be ‘the best person for the job,’
Information about careers in exploration and mining and how the program works is available at www.bcamta.ca.