Welcoming Indigenous Workers
Training, awareness, and accommodation key to overcoming barriers
Last November, many organizations gathered in Thunder Bay for a jam-packed two-day conference hosted by the Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board (AAB). The goal of the conference was multifold, but at its core, the AAB helps connect Indigenous labour supply with work opportunities. Attendees of the conference included various employment agencies, training program coordinators, companies, and several unions, including CLAC.
The conference started with an official greeting from Chief Collins of the Fort William First Nation and a smudge ceremony. Smudge ceremonies are a tradition among Indigenous communities and are a way of cleansing and purifying the body.
As the labour shortage in the skilled trades continues, it has become ever more important to engage with Indigenous workers. Many are ready and able to complete the work that needs to get done.
Let’s welcome Indigenous workers to our job sites. Some barriers to entering the skilled trades exist for some Indigenous people, many of which were discussed at the conference, but these are nothing that cannot be overcome. With good training for everyone, increased awareness within workplaces, and a willingness to make reasonable accommodations, we can get more Indigenous people working on our construction sites. Doing so is part of the solution to the skilled trades shortage.