For future First Nations and Métis tradespeople in Manitoba, the career ‘arc’ may start right here

September camps in Winnipeg to recruit apprentice welders for pilot project

Trade winds are blowing in Winnipeg. And for Manitoba’s First Nations and Métis, they’re bringing opportunity.

Make that much-needed opportunity.

“In a lot of remote communities, in areas like the Interlake Region, they’ve had one plumber or one electrician serving multiple communities for decades,” says Vanessa Everett, director of engagement and collaboration for Winnipeg-based First Peoples Development Inc.

“With a lot of these tradespeople retiring, we’re hearing stories now about people having to pay double and triple to fly in contractors. It’s a fairly common scenario.”

This fall, the FPDI—which represents 39 First Nations across Manitoba—is launching a pilot project to tackle the lack of qualified on-reserve and rural trades.

Starting with a trio of five-day welding camps in September at Winnipeg’s Piping Industry Technical College, the FPDI will recruit 16 apprentice welders for education and training, with the backing of industry groups and Apprenticeship Manitoba.

The ultimate goal is to help small and medium-sized local employers—including First Nations housing authorities—to tap into a well-trained supply of apprentices who can:

  • Continue their apprenticeships;
  • Receive credit for on-the-job hours;
  • Gain full scope of trade; and
  • Attain certified journeyperson status.

“This program has been a long time in the making, and the concept is somewhat unique,” says Everett. “Often you can find funding and support for students in a program, but not something for the long term—through the full apprenticeship process—that provides mentorship and support to bridge that gap.”

Enbridge is committed to creating opportunity for First Nations and Métis communities near our operations and projects—including the Line 3 Replacement Program, which has a $5.3-billion Canadian component.

This work includes supporting employment and training programs, facilitating Indigenous business and economic opportunities, community investment partnerships, and capacity and relationship building.

September’s welding camps, with 15 to 20 participants apiece, will target residents of Manitoba First Nations and Métis communities near the Line 3 Replacement Program—including Sioux Valley, Canupawakpa Dakota, Birdtail Sioux, Dakota Tipi, Long Plains, Swan Lake and Dakota Plains—and be operated through a $41,250 grant from Enbridge.

“In the past, we’ve held robotics camps that introduce youth to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects,” says Everett. “This pilot project takes things several steps further. There’s plenty of opportunity for welders—in Winnipeg, in rural Manitoba, and on reserve.”