Wikwemikong students study modern mining techniques

Christianna Jones, co-ordinator of the Pathways to Employment, Mining and Other Sectors Program, addresses the graduates. photos by Peter Baumgarten

WIKWEMIKONG—Twenty Wikwemikong adult students graduated from an up close and personal introduction to the mining industry following three months of in class study where they learned about the history of mining in the province and received first aid and other safety related certifications that will help to make them highly employable in the sector.

The students in the Introduction to Mining program offered by Pathways to Employment graduated during a December 5 ceremony with a very high completion rate.

“Of the 20 students who started the program we had 18 graduate,” said program facilitator Christianna Jones. She noted that the program had strict attendance requirements, at 95 percent, but the students were very enthusiastic so, in the end, attendance proved to be even higher than that threshold.

In addition to the classroom work, the mining students spent several weeks in the NorCat underground facility learning hands-on techniques.

“There were 12 in the first group and then three went in November,” noted Ms. Jones. leading to 15 gaining their Common Core certification.

The Pathways to Employment program is sponsored by the Wii-ni n’guch-tood LDM, an employment and training fund source for Wikwemikong band members and employers and Mnidoo Mnising Employment and Training Services LDM, which serves the same function at the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM) and Wikwemikong Ontario Works. The program was targeted at students, 18 to 29 years of age, and was quickly fully subscribed. In fact, the program proved to be so popular that another edition is being explored for spring 2015.

Mining is traditionally a male-dominated industry, but the Pathways to Employment program marginally bucked that trend, with two female students completing the course.

“The trainers at NorCat told us that these were the first women to graduate from the underground training component in three years,” noted Ms. Jones.

Ms. Jones noted that the trainers in the program were “very, very good. The students were very impressed.”