Mobility in Rae-Edzo increasing with BHP money
Working at BHP has a positive impact on Rae-Edzo

NNSL (Dec 14/98) - Rae-Edzo looks more like a an auto dealership than a community with all the shiny new vehicles driving around town.

The Rae-Edzo residents working at BHP are making sure they get the most from their pay checks, and although much of the money they make goes out of the community, it is making a difference in the lives of people in Rae-Edzo.

Edzo Champlain has been working for BHP as a warehouse attendant since Oct. 28 and is only one of several people who are benefiting from the BHP payroll.

"I would say there are about a dozen of us (from Rae-Edzo employed at the BHP Ekati mine)," said Champlain. "We're in a bunch of different areas of work. I'm in the warehouse. I help out at the counter and do inventory."

Prior to being hired at the mine, Champlain worked for a BHP subcontractor, Nuna Logistics, as a general labourer. That got him a foot in the door when a job came up at the mine.

Jerry Bear, a lawyer/consultant for BHP, said Rae-Edzo has a high number of residents who have experience and qualifications that give them an edge over other applicants when it comes to qualifying for BHP jobs.

"I would say Rae-Edzo has the highest (BHP) employment of the communities, not just because of their higher population." said Bear. "They have the chance for experience with (businesses such as) Nishi-Kohn working heavy machines. When BHP goes looking for someone, it increases their opportunity because they are more qualified for that position."

BHP's community mobilization programs, as well as courses at Aurora College also help to increase the chances for community residents looking for work, but experience on a resume helps get the job.

Since Champlain's stroke of good luck and his experience landed him the job, he has been able to live a relatively financially carefree life.

His new-found wealth has allowed him more flexibility in his spending but Champlain is spending wisely.

"I bought a Ski-Doo," said Champlain. "I got it for travelling. I just got back from Wha Ti. It is about two and a half miles from here. I was late coming back and it's not a good time to be on that road at night so having a Ski-Doo you don't have to worry."

Champlain said he is investing as well as spending his pay checks.

"I spend my money in a useful way," said Champlain. "I've been buying savings bonds and with that bit of money I can pay some bills."

"I'm thinking about buying a house too."

The general trend in purchases for Rae-Edzo residents is vehicles.

"I think everybody with BHP is buying trucks and Ski-Doos." said Therase Koyina, an income-support worker in Rae-Edzo.

While improving the lives of residents, the money is also improving the economy outside the community.

"Most of the money goes to Yellowknife for things like groceries and other stuff," said Therase. "We have no bank, no department store. We only have a food store, a Co-Op and gas (station), so everything is going out of here."

Despite the flow of cash to Yellowknife, ultimately, the community and the families of the employees are the ones that benefit.

"It's going to supporting the people's families," said Therase. "a lot of it goes to charity, to the bingo that is sponsored by the band," said Therase, "It's a charity, so it goes back to the people."