Ask anyone looking to start a career and you’ll often hear that what they really need to establish themselves is experience. The construction industry is no different, and young women and men who want to pursue a rewarding career as an equipment operator, welder or mechanic need the hours to perfect their craft. The Coastal GasLink project represents a unique opportunity for workers starting out in the industry to get those valuable hours while also benefitting from a meaningful and well-paying job on one of Canada’s biggest projects. For Sydney Dash, the project has brought her so much closer to fulfilling her goal of becoming an equipment operator.
“Today I was actually running the equipment,” said Dash, during a site visit earlier this year.
Helping young workers like Sydney is important to Coastal GasLink and is a driving force behind the Pathways to Prosperity Program, a six-day ‘training-to-employment’ program launched by prime contractor SA Energy Group that provides local Indigenous women and men with the skills and training they need to secure work in the construction industry. Participants will be trained by leading construction experts and local Indigenous leaders and entrepreneurs. They’ll graduate with the foundational skills and certificates needed to start working on the project right away. “I started in December, I didn’t have any experience but I’m here anyway and I’ve been liking it. Financially, this job has been amazing. I haven’t had to struggle with bills any more, I can pay things on time, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I want to own a house by the time this project’s done, that’s my five-year plan. Maybe get a truck, too,” shared Alec Plasway, a labourer working on the project in Prince George.
“This is one of the biggest projects in Canada, who wouldn’t want to be a part of it? You can talk about the millions, but it’s really the people on the ground who are employed, feeding their families, buying clothing for their kids. They’re being part of the economy; they can make money and live a good life,” says Derek Orr, SA Energy’s Manager of Indigenous and Community Relations, and a former three-term Chief of McLeod Lake Indian Band, who is proud to be involved in the program.
Alec (left) and Jonah, labourers