Mining strategy aims to employ Nunavik women, youth
“We think it’s important to aim high"
KUUJJUAQ — Regional councillors of the Kativik Regional Government heard details of Nunavik’s mining employment strategy Feb. 25 and how it plans to grow the size of the Inuit workforce over the next decade.
Within two years, the Kautaapikkut mining strategy aims to double the current number of Inuit current employed in Nunavik’s mining sector and plans to prioritize the hiring and retention of Nunavimmiut women and youth.
Kautaapikkut is a partnership made up of a number of regional organizations, including the Kativik Regional Government, Makivik Corp., landholding corporations and the Kativik School Board, who will work to direct the almost $42 million in government and industry funding earmarked for training.
For now, that partnership includes three Nunavik mines; Glencore Raglan and Canadian Royalties’ Nunavik Nickel — both producing mines — and Oceanic Iron Ore, which is still in the exploration phase.
“There is a total estimate at this point, in the next 10 to 15 years, there could be as many as four to six thousand jobs in the mining sector,” Rob Nixon, chair of Kautaapikkut, told the KRG council Feb. 25.
“That is very significant. There is a need then to find as many ways as possible to train Inuit to work in the sector.”
There are currently somewhere between 200 and 230 Inuit employed in Nunavik’s mining sector.
But Kautaapikkut aims to double that over the next two years, with an Inuit job creation target of 430.
That number relies heavily on the success of the Canadian Royalties operation, which cut its staff in half last year when they downsized their operation
Nixon admits the goal is ambitious, but said the committee wants to aim high.
To meet its goals, Kautaapikkut’s partners realize they must build the region’s training capacity to prepare Inuit for mining jobs.
Some of that may come in the form of training centres, but Nixon also pointed to on-the-job training, which has proven effective not only for retaining Inuit staff, but also promoting them.
The $42 million earmarked under Kautaapikkut over the next two and half years is enough to subsidize 82 per cent of Inuit trainee and trainer wages, as well as half of trainee benefit costs.
At Glencore Raglan, Nixon said 30 to 35 Inuit employees have been identified under the Rapid Inuit Development Program, which targets staff for on-the-job training to move into more senior and management positions.
But retaining employees also requires support, Nixon said, and that is another goal of the strategy: offering more flexibility to staff with families at home, as well as intercultural training on-site.
Kautaapikkut’s strategy also calls for a better pre-employment recruitment process and investment to improve educational results in Nunavik’s schools.
A number of KRG councillors expressed concern Feb. 25 about Nunavik’s high drop-out rates and how the mining industry could help offer better outcomes to the region’s youth.
Council vice-chair Mary Pilurtuut suggested that Nunavimmiut need to hear more success stories from Inuit who have succeeded in the mining industry.
“I think there’s a positive picture here,” she said. “$42 million is a lot of money to invest in training, and I want to see these people continue in their programs.”
Since 2008, Nixon noted, youth who don’t finish high school are eligible for jobs and training and some find success in mining jobs.
But Esuma, Nunavik’s school perseverance project, will also play a role in the mining strategy by encouraging young Nunavimmiut to work towards high school diplomas first.