September in North America means back to school for most students. Goldcorp believes education is one of the best ways to create lasting positive benefits in the communities where we live and work. In this third of a series of stories highlighting some of our recent educational investments, we celebrate the success of Aboriginal youth empowered with skills to excel.
July 30, 2015 was a proud day for First Nations youth, parents and families in northern Ontario near Musselwhite Mine. At a ceremony hosted by Goldcorp, the first graduating class of the Aboriginal Mining and Skilled Trades Entry Project (AMSTEP) received certifications and congratulations.
AMSTEP is a partnership between Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute (OSHKI) and Goldcorp to provide career skills to Aboriginal youth in signatory communities of the Musselwhite Agreement, a collaboration with four First Nations and two First Nation Councils to foster economic sustainability, job creation, entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship. Goldcorp has similar agreements in place at all Canadian operations.
Thirteen participants from the First Nations of North Caribou Lake and Wunnumin Lake completed the intensive five-month, 800-hour training and work experience program, earning industry-recognized accreditation. It’s the first of its kind to be taught in an active mine site, which made it uniquely immersive for students, from surface to underground operations.
“Having them here on site is far more beneficial than having them in a city or community,” says Bill Gascon, Musselwhite’s General Manager. “They get to experience what work is going to be like; they get to mingle and talk to employees who are here and are actually working.”
Innovative and Vital
The program also address critical issues: career options and training in First Nations communities – where up to half the population is under 45 years old – and skilled labour for sectors facing shortages. “This is an innovative program for expanding opportunities for Aboriginal youth and creating local workforces that meet industry needs,” says OSHKI Executive Director Rosie Mosquito.
The benefits are already evident to Gascon. “From their very first day on site, we expected a lot from the participants and their transformation has been incredible. I believe this program will be life changing for many.” Equally impressive is the students’ flawless safety record and 81 per cent graduation rate.
For Chantal Chikane, the skills she learned enable a career path in her mother’s footsteps. “My mom was a truck driver – she worked underground,” says Chikane, who encourages her peers to take advantage of the program. “Go for it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
A second AMSTEP program is now underway for youth from Cat Lake and Kingfisher Lake, which will build on this positive impact, says Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “The capacity of First Nation people in industry in the north is undeniably one of the most important solutions to poverty, to the labour shortage in all the trades…for building stronger, and more vibrant communities.”
To read more about Goldcorp’s groundbreaking partnerships for Aboriginal prosperity in Above Ground Magazine, click here.