The province announced Wednesday they will invest $600,000 into a program to offer more skilled trade training and opportunities to Indigenous women living in northern First Nations communities.
During a Wednesday morning press conference in Winnipeg, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox announced the funding will be used in partnership with the Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC) to deliver a “multi-faceted” skilled trades training initiative for Indigenous women in four northern and remote communities.
Cox said that there is currently a shortage of skilled trade workers in Northern Manitoba, so the program is a way to make more workers available in the north, while also allowing Indigenous women to pursue careers closer to home.
“We know that there is a great need to train and recruit skilled trade workers across Manitoba and particularly in the north, and the graduates of these programs will ideally be able to fill these needs and stay in their home communities while doing so,” Cox said.
The four communities chosen to participate in the program are Pinaymootang First Nation, Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Dakota Tipi First Nation, and York Factory First Nation.
Cox added that Manitoba’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns “must include women and other underrepresented groups.”
“I am confident by pursuing gender diversity in the trades we will attract more women to pursue careers in this field, and in other non-traditional roles of employment,” Cox said.
Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations Minister Alan Lagimodiere spoke during Wednesday’s press conference about the challenges Indigenous women in northern Manitoba currently face when seeking employment and careers.
“Indigenous women in northern and remote communities face barriers that lead to unemployment and underemployment,” Lagimodiere said. “Their access to training can be limited, and it makes it harder to qualify for those better-paying jobs.
“This program supports economic reconciliation as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and will improve the lives of Indigenous women in Manitoba.”
Cox said the targeted training initiative “will provide an opportunity for Indigenous women to acquire valuable skills in a supportive environment, and include ongoing mentorship during training and throughout their careers in the skilled trades.”
Training through the program will be delivered by MCSC in framing, water and waste-water installation, and blast hole drilling, which are all skills that are in high demand, the province said, and training through the program will begin with a three-week job readiness course, and include safety training certification from the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba, and a one-day workshop on women in the trades.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun