The BC AMTA (British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association) was founded to help address a looming labor shortage in the mining industry. First Nations communities are often located near mine sites, and this win-win arrangement also helps these communities develop economic health.
“Focusing on the people and partnerships makes us successful,” said Michelle Nahanee, marketing and communications manager for the BC AMTA. “It takes people to build trust and move forward into a new, healthy economy and it takes people to run an efficient and safe business. Knowing this basic starting place is a key success factor for BC AMTA. We try to understand the motivations, the uncertainties, the assumptions and the culture of both the community and the business, and (we) always start from a place of listening.” (Mitchell, 2014)
As of July 9, 2013, the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BC AMTA) had helped place 561 individuals in mining positions throughout the province. Candidates joined the ranks of those who have graduated with industry-specific training through this non-profit organization. The heavy-equipment operators program has prepared the group with four weeks of classroom theory in Cranbrook, B.C., and a further four weeks of hands-on equipment training in Kamloops, B.C.
In addition to mining jobs, the housing of these workers has to be addressed as well. Traditionally, mining communities lie in remote areas where workforce housing has to be brought into the region. Everything from construction of housing, to servicing the workers with catering and hospitality needs require a workforce of trained professionals. British Columbia’s very own Northwest Community College has been leading the way in training Aboriginal students.
NWCC is a recognized leader in Aboriginal education. Aboriginal peoples comprise roughly 30 percent of the region’s population, the highest among all BC college regions and, at NWCC, Aboriginals make up roughly 40 per cent of the student body. This success is attributed to the College’s accessible teaching practices and world views, plus the development of programs and courses specifically tailored to Aboriginal learners. Their Culinary Arts Program even has a focus on First Nations cuisine.
When Remote housing operators, such as Lone Tree USA, hire for their workforce housing facilities…they specifically look to employ First Nations individuals who are qualified and have a tie to the area. Lone Tree realizes the importance of working with the aboriginal people when hiring for open positions. They believe that the First Nations are the experts and knowledge-base behind any project that falls on their land, and want to help the economy and overall well-being of the aboriginal people in those areas. The education efforts within British Columbia are making it such that companies won’t have to look elsewhere to staff the mining industry positions that are flooding the area.
Mitchell, K. (2014, July). Mining & Exploration. Retrieved from MiningandExploration.ca: http://www.miningandexploration.ca/firstnations/article/benefits_for_industry_and_communities/5th%20Annual%20Saskatchewan%20Mining%20Forum/