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NNSL Photo/graphic

Aboriginal Futures executive director Brenda McDonald, in her Inuvik office, helps administer $13 million in Aboriginal Skills to Employment funding aimed at training people for job opportunities expected if the Mackenzie Gas Project gets the go ahead from regulators. - Jason Unrau/NNSL photo

Planning for the future

Jason Unrau
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Dec 16/05) - Brenda McDonald wants to see employment success stories from construction of the Mackenzie Gas Project.

As executive director of Aboriginal Futures, the organization responsible for administering the $13 million in Aboriginal Skills to Employment Program (ASEP) training dollars, she wants to get the word out that opportunities are there.

"Some people aren't so sure what this money is for and what kind of training they can get," she said from her Inuvik office Monday. "Say if you want to get into a training program but you don't have the math, there's an option available."

From the pot of money provided by Education Culture and Employment, Human Resources Development Canada, industry and aboriginal partners - this region can expect a $6.5 million portion. McDonald said that money has been allocated to address three key areas: basic skills training, industrial skills training and employment supports. McDonald said the aboriginal partners the Deh Cho, Sahtu, Gwich'in and Inuvialuit - can customize programming to their members' needs.

Barb Crawford, who manages the ASEP program for the Gwich'in Tribal Council, said the demand for training among Gwich'in beneficiaries has been great.

"We had 50 resumes for five (drilling) rig training spots," she said. That program was in offered in partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and Akita Equtak.

As there were no companies out drilling this winter season, apart from the Devon Canada offshore rig, the funding allowed four Gwich'in already with some rig experience to head south to get more hours on other operations.

"We're hoping that the extra hours they get down south will help them move up."

Funding will also go toward helping people organize their day-to-day lives.

"One of the things really missing for aboriginal people are basic skills for working, like punctuality, budgeting their money and banking," said McDonald.

"Because these skills give people the ability to be successful in their future jobs."

Once a person signs up to do training, progress is monitored to ensure a high success rate.

"The goal is to get people employed. This is a huge partnership and we want people to have jobs in the end," said Crawford.

"So part of the process is that we have to report on where these people are three, six, 12-months down the road."