National construction company partners with area First Nations

·2 min read

A new partnership between a national construction company and two area First Nations will bring more jobs and improved infrastructure to both communities.

Deshkan Ziibiing, also known as Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, and Aamjiwnaang First Nation have teamed up with Aecon Group Inc. to launch a joint venture to pursue utility construction projects, such as gas and water pipelines and water distribution systems, across Southwestern Ontario.

“We’re looking quite forward to the opportunities that are going to come up, in terms of the ability to participate in utility projects from an employment status standpoint, as well as generating some revenues for our community,” said Chris Plain, chief of Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia.

The two First Nations will hold most of the shares in the company that will offer an “Indigenous-led solution” for various utility projects, Aecon members said in a statement, adding the company plans to build a facility in Southwestern Ontario.

The new partnership will support Chippewas of the Thames First Nation’s workforce and growing economy, Chief Jacqueline French said.

“Because this venture is also Indigenous-led, we will be supporting the growth of our Nations by employing locally, with Aecon providing training and capacity development programs,” French said in an emailed statement.

At Aamjiwnaang First Nation, a community located in a heavily industrialized region known to some as “Chemical Valley,” the partnership will create another opportunity for young people to look at skilled trades as an option for employment, Plain said.

"My community is located in the Chemical Valley and a lot of our tradespeople are obviously working because of the time, but it will create another opportunity for skilled trades (workers) to be able to work in conjunction on Indigenous-led projects,” he said.

The name of the joint venture, Aecon Three Fires, refers to the Council of the Three Fires Confederacy, a longstanding Anishinaabe alliance of the Ojibway, Odawa and Potawatomi tribes.

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press