Better career options are the goal for many of the Matawa First Nations trainees currently pursuing Ring of Fire Training Alliance (RoFATA) Tier 2 and 3 training.
“(My goal is) to eventually get a really good career where I can support my family and move out of Thunder Bay into a different community,” said Caitlin Cheechoo, mother of a three-year-old son and one of about 60 Tier 3 RoFATA trainees who have completed about three weeks of their 12-week program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay.
“Right now, all together, we’re learning the math and English components and then we branch out to our own individual (pre-trades program).”
Cheechoo is focusing on the Pre-Trades Carpentry program, one of five programs offered through the Tier 3 RoFATA training. The other programs are: Pre-Trades Electrical, Pre-Trades Plumber, Pre-Trades Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic and Pre-Trades Construction Craft Worker.
“I just like the hands-on working with everything,” Cheechoo said.
Cheechoo’s long-term goal is to work in the Ring of Fire when it opens up for mineral development.
“For now though, after the pre-trades program, hopefully (I will get) a job with carpentry and learn more,” Cheechoo said.
The Tier 2 RoFATA training began on May 28 with about 10 trainees studying the Surface Diamond Driller Helper program at the Firesteel Camp in Ignace. An Environmental Monitoring and
Pre-trades Welding program are also scheduled for Tier 2.
“We are pleased with the outcomes and progress we are making in training our membership from the Matawa communities,” said Morris Wapoose, program manager with KKETS (Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services). “The pre-trades programming will provide the necessary skills to enter an apprenticeship within the industry and be better prepared in entering the workforce.”
RoFATA was launched in October 2013 as a partnership between KKETS, Noront Resources Ltd. and Confederation College.
“Noront is focused on developing a skilled local workforce to support our Eagle’s Nest mining project which we expect to be the first mine in the Ring of Fire,” said Alan Coutts, CEO of Noront Resources Ltd. “We are encouraged by the level of participation and look forward to hiring graduates from the program in the near future.”
Eabametoong’s Clarence Neshinapaise is focusing on the Pre-Trades Plumbing program with the goal of working in the Ring of Fire.
“I’m just taking Pre-Trades Plumbing right now but I can do heavy equipment if I want to, because that (training) is what I have too,” Neshinapaise said.
Aroland’s Derek Megan is focusing on the Pre-Trades Construction Craft Worker program with the goal of working in the Ring of Fire.
“It’s a very good learning experience,” Megan said. “I took a year off from firefighting to come to school, so I sacrificed that to come to school here.”
Long Lake #58’s Fred Patabon is focusing on the Pre-Trades Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program with the goal of working in the mining industry.
“I want to know about these big machines and how to fix them,” Patabon said.
Ginoogaming’s Earl Russel John Taylor is focusing on the Pre-Trades Construction Craft Worker program with the goal of working in the mining industry.
“I know everything about the roof and the exterior of buildings — I took a course when I was 17 at the Ontario School of Masonry,” Taylor said. “I just want to get to know about the inside of the building, like framing and drywalling.”
About 160 Matawa First Nations trainees were provided with Mining Essentials/Mining Readiness training through Tier 1 of the RoFATA initiative.
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