Local 793 president Joe Redshaw spoke at an event in Mississauga on Aug. 19 to celebrate the grand opening of the Remote Training Centre (RTC) in the Neskantaga community in northern Ontario.

He told the audience that Local 793 and the OETIO understand the importance of education and training and were pleased to be part of the celebration.

“Recognized training certification and education is the stepping stone to employment and, more importantly, a career,” he said in his remarks.

Redshaw said that Local 793 and the OETIO are working towards a made-in-Canada solution to meeting the skills gap for the heavy equipment and crane operator industry and the RTC will help further that goal.

“We see First Nations people as one of the made-in-Canada solutions, particularly in this region of Ontario.”

Redshaw’s comments were heard via satellite feed by Neskantaga Chief Peter Moonias and attendees at the RTC. Provincial Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer also joined the conference via a satellite feed from London, Ont.

Local 793 and the OETIO have supported the RTC, an innovative facility which enables training services to be delivered to the remote community. The union and training centre worked with Aecon and the Matawa First Nations Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Centre (KKETS).

The RTC is outfitted with two-way video communications technology which enables students at the facility to take safety training and courses via a satelitte uplink. The OETIO will be delivering e-learning courses to students at the centre.

In his remarks, Redshaw said the future looks bright for First Nations students, given the need for heavy equipment operators to build roads, airport strips and rail lines in support of projects in the Ring of Fire area in northern Ontario.

He thanked KKETS for its belief in the OETIO as the training delivery agent of choice for heavy equipment operating training.

Redshaw said Local 793’s office in Thunder Bay is doing what it can to place KKETS heavy equipment graduates from the OETIO in Morrisburg, and Aecon has clearly demonstrated its commitment to work with KKETS by recruiting OETIO graduates and providing them an opportunity to work on projects in Thunder Bay.

Redshaw said the opening of the RTC is a proud and exciting moment for Neskantaga.

“IUOE Local 793 and the OETIO believe in First Nations as a solution and plan to continue building and enhancing our partnership relationship for the future.”

Neskantaga Chief Moonias said the RTC will have a positive impact on the people of Neskantaga for many years to come.

“This is an integral step in the right direction – providing access to higher learning directly in our community so that our youth have the opportunity to succeed.”

Teri McKibbon, president and CEO at Aecon, said development of the RTC was made possible through the collaboration and contributions from many companies and organizations, including the OETIO.

“Training and education are keys to success and we are very proud to be a part of bringing such opportunities to Matawa First Nation communities.”