Ontario Local Partners With Area First Nations on Pre-Apprenticeship Program


August 19, 2022

In an effort to increase Indigenous youth membership, London, Ontario, Local 120 recently launched a pre-apprenticeship program in partnership with area First Nations groups.

The program, which began in April, is headed by Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and works in partnership with Local 120 to help Indigenous young people gain technical skills and certifications, as well as find employment in the skilled trades.

“This program offers an opportunity that the young people in Indigenous communities rarely have,” said Jason Martincich, the lead instructor for the program. “By completing the trainings and certificates awarded, not only does it build skills, it also builds confidence that supports mental well-being with a sense of accomplishment.”

Local 120 Training Coordinator Brad Gard says that local leaders were looking to get more involved in the community and, based on their first meetings with Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, they agreed on a partnership.

“Our hope is that this will provide interest in the trades, especially electrical, and provide better Indigenous representation in the IBEW,” Gard said. “We want these young people to become mentors to the upcoming youth and future generations.”

Funded through the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the program is open to Indigenous people in London and surrounding First Nations — Munsee-Delaware, Oneida Nation of the Thames and Chippewas of the Thames — who are between the ages of 18 and 30.

About 150 students participate in the first of the program’s three stages, where 12 students each week learn skills like first aid, résumé writing, interview preparation and diversity training. The second stage is limited to 100 of those participants and offers training on a construction site. The final stage is reserved for 50 students who will gain transferable skills to work in any trade. From there, up to five participants are selected to complete paid apprenticeships.

“This program is important on so many levels. Already we have seen many youths — 73 to date — complete Stage 1, and the feedback coming in is that they have increased confidence. They want to attend every day and are enjoying themselves,” said Meaghan MacLeod, the program’s project manager.

Participants also have access to support, including free transportation and lunch and a wage subsidy of $120 a day.

“The supports are of the utmost importance because many of these youths would not be able to participate otherwise,” Gard said. “The burdens faced by many of these students are invisible to most people, from violence and abuse in the home to lack of transportation and food security.”

While the skills learned are common to most apprenticeships, one part that’s different is the cultural component. Every Monday of every new class they start with a smudge, or cleansing ritual, the language and a hand drum song provided by one of the student advisors from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

“Rebuilding the bridges between education and culture is imperative as we provide a culturally sensitive environment for the youth at our union hall,” Martincich said. “It’s important that we recognize that many of these youths have been forced away from their cultural heritage. By learning about their culture and developing this program to enhance it, we feel we can bridge the gap between our communities for everyone’s benefit.”

Gard and Martincich noted that, as far as they know, the program is the first of its kind in the province, but hopefully not the last.

“For any other locals that may be interested, I recommend reaching out to local Indigenous communities to see what interest level there is,” Gard said. “Then develop a partnership with them and seek government funding to get the program up and running. We’d be happy to be a resource.”


Related Articles

Latest Articles

  • IDEAL Canada Wraps up Eighth Season of Battle of the Schools

    IDEAL Canada Wraps up Eighth Season of Battle of the Schools

    This year, IDEAL Canada is celebrating 60 years of manufacturing in Canada. In the spirit of celebration, the company has given apprentices across the country another chance to show off their talents and celebrate their skills as burgeoning electricians with the Battle of the Schools. IDEAL awarded over $25,000 in cash in prizes to apprentices… Read More…

  • Ontario EV ChargeON Program Accepting Applications until January 31, 2024

    Ontario EV ChargeON Program Accepting Applications until January 31, 2024

    November 29, 2023 The province is accepting applications for the EV ChargeON program to build publicly accessible charging stations in communities with less than 170,000 people, as well as in any Indigenous community in Ontario. Eligible applicants include businesses, not-for-profit corporations, municipalities, Indigenous businesses, organizations and communities, and broader public sector organizations like hospitals and… Read More…

  • A Closer Look at ESA’s EV Charger Installation Blitz & EV Charger Considerations

    A Closer Look at ESA’s EV Charger Installation Blitz & EV Charger Considerations

    Earlier this year, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) conducted an EV charger installation ‘blitz’ as part of their campaign to educate homeowners and consumers, in an effort to improve EV charger installation safety in Ontario. Read More…

  • I Have Two Questions for You

    I Have Two Questions for You

    November 24, 2023 By Keith Sones, Valard EVP Strategy & Business Development I have two questions for you. First, how many people do you think you’ll meet in your life? It’s not that hard to determine, quite frankly. Yes, it requires a lot of assumptions to represent the “average” person, but it is possible. Before… Read More…

Changing Scene

  • Delta Transformers Unveils Newly Redesigned Website

    Delta Transformers Unveils Newly Redesigned Website

    December 8, 2023 Delta Transformers is proud to announce the launch of its redesigned website, updated to deliver a superior user experience through a blend of aesthetics and functionality.  This redesign marks a significant step forward, offering users improved navigation, enhanced content, and intuitive features aimed at simplifying the customer journey.  Key highlights of Delta’s… Read More…

  • Electrical Safety Authority Recognizes Safety Excellence in Ontario

    Electrical Safety Authority Recognizes Safety Excellence in Ontario

    December 7, 2023 Yesterday, December 6th, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) held its Annual Meeting and Ontario Electrical Safety Awards to celebrate leadership and electrical safety excellence. In addition to the awards, ESA’s Chair Christopher Hopper, and Chief Executive Officer, Josie Erzetic, highlighted ESA’s accomplishments from the previous year, and Patience Cathcart, Public Safety Officer provided key findings of… Read More…

  • ABB E-mobility Launches Terra AC Wallbox Solutions for Homes and Businesses in Canada

    ABB E-mobility Launches Terra AC Wallbox Solutions for Homes and Businesses in Canada

    December 6, 2023 ABB’s Terra AC Wallbox product family is now available through select ABB Installation Product electrical distribution partners across Canada. The solutions offer tailored, intelligent, and networked charging for business, home and a wide range of locations such as commercial or public facilities, workplaces, multifamily residences, and fleet parking lots. “The versatile e-mobility… Read More…

  • ECS contributes to UBC Solar’s “Brightside” Race Car Project

    ECS contributes to UBC Solar’s “Brightside” Race Car Project

    December 6, 2023 Electrical Wire Donation Powers Innovation and Education in Sustainable Engineering Electrical Cable Supply (ECS) is delighted to announce its recent contribution to UBC Solar – a student engineering design team at the University of British Columbia (UBC). In support of cutting-edge education and sustainable innovation, ECS has donated a diverse array of… Read More…