Kiel Giddens of TransCanada announces the funding during a gathering at TriCorp on Thursday.

Partnership provides $250,000 for Aboriginal training

A number of students got the rare chance to directly ask an industry professional what the impacts of a potential gas pipeline would be.

Last week, a number of students got the rare chance to directly ask an industry professional what the impacts of a potential natural gas pipeline would be to the North Coast region and how they might be able to create a career based around the LNG industry.

Kiel Giddens, Community and Aboriginal Relations coordinator with the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project for TransCanada, visited the Prince Rupert Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (TRICORP) offices on Thursday.

With him came the company’s knowledge and expertise and a significant investment opportunity for 12 students looking to break into the field of LNG construction and management.

“I know that all of you are here because you’re interested and want to be able to take part in the diverse opportunities that are proposed or already happening here in the Northwest,” said Giddens during an afternoon joint-investment announcement with TRICORP.

“The demand for trained workers for the development of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project and the Coastal GasLink Project – both TransCanada projects – is significant. We’re going to need a lot of workers and all of you will be at the forefront of those opportunities,” Giddens added.

TransCanada and TRICORP together announced a $250,000 partnership to offer skills development and training for Aboriginal people in northwestern B.C. through TransCanada’s Pathway to Pipeline Readiness program.

The partnership has produced a 10-week program for 12 students here in Prince Rupert, that started up last week.

The 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday course is just one program out of three that will be spread out across the region. The second one is tentatively scheduled to begin in Hazelton once the course has finished in Prince Rupert and the third will be at a yet-to-be-decided location.

Giddens fielded questions from the students as they embarked on their first week of classes and training.

“This morning, we gave what we call a ‘Pipeline 101’ presentation and it was great to hear your questions,” Giddens told the crew.

“It’s definitely an interested and enthusiastic group … We’ve been doing a lot of listening over the past number of years and we’ve learned how important skills training is to the labour force throughout northern B.C. … Part of being a good neighbour is providing those economic opportunities.”

TRICORP’s chief operating officer, Jacquie Ridley, noted that TRICORP’s ongoing relationship with Service Canada has enabled them to facilitate training programs such as this one.

“[During] the past three-and-a-half years, we’ve had a contract with Service Canada to deliver the [Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs] program (NW-ACE). Then this year, we got lucky and got a [Skills and Partnership Fund] program going with Service Canada,” she said..

The $250,000 making up the programming for the three northwest areas, will help 42 students in all, with TransCanada and TRICORP each contributing $50,000 in cash and in-kind contributions and the federal government also contributing funds.

“[TransCanada] believes in the same thing we believe; and that’s that they want careers for the Aboriginal people in the Northwest – not just jobs,” said Ridley.

“Most of them will enter a trade or are going to enter into something that will advance them forward in their educational career. We don’t want them to just have training, we want them to have careers at the end of all of this.”

A normal day of class for the 12 Prince Rupert-based students would typically include class time, starting at 8:30 a.m. and skills and trades training at 3:30 p.m.

“The students will be learning some of those foundational skills that are important for them to help get work, so there’s going to be upgrading of literacy and numeracy skills as well as some hard certification in various safety courses that will be delivered throughout the 10-week program,” said Giddens.

During Thursday morning’s briefing, Giddens answered questions ranging from what duties a camp worker performs, to how the TransCanada pipelines are environmentally friendly.

“We had a lot of questions based on what types of jobs were available, what a typical workday might look like for someone who was working in a camp and lots of specific questions on how we protect the environment and how we root the pipeline to take into account First Nations and other community values,” said Giddens.

The Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project is a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Limited and if built, would be approximately 900 km in length from Hudson’s Hope, B.C. to a proposed LNG plant in Port Edward. The estimated cost of the project is $5 billion.

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