Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR) Working to Increase Aboriginal Participation in Mining Sector – by Lindsay Forcellini

Lindsay Forcellini is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator for the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR)

Bridging the gap: Mining Essentials Program poised to increase capacity for Aboriginal employment in mining

The Assembly of First Nations and the Mining Industry Human Resources (MiHR) Council are developing Mining Essentials: A Work Readiness Training Program for Aboriginal Peoples to create more employment opportunities for Aboriginal peoples and to provide a practical solution to recruitment challenges currently facing mining employers.

Aboriginal peoples have a strong history and future role in Canada’s mining industry and many Aboriginal communities are located within close proximity of Canada’s mines and exploration sites. Mining Essentials will ensure Aboriginal peoples have the essential skills and work-readiness training needed to enter the mining industry, increasing their capacity for employment in one of Canada’s highest paying industrial sectors.

The Mining Essentials Program was conceptualized after MiHR’s 2009 needs-assessment revealed national interest in an essential skills program for the industry. This pre-employment mining training program is a potential entry point to MiHR’s Canadian Mining Credentials Program, with curriculum based on industry standards. The benefits of the program include consistency in learning outcomes, increased worker mobility and bridging the gap between career seeker skill levels and employer demand level for skills.

Mining Essentials will also help to enhance the relationship and cooperation among Aboriginal communities and the mining industry and facilitate a medium for partnerships between Aboriginal Human Resource Development Agreements.

The program is currently in development.  Once finalized, it can be delivered by a variety of approved training experts or community facilities. The Ready to Mine, Skills Development Project involves the Mining Essentials Program, including training curriculum, a learner’s workbook, assessment tools and an online database to track participants and success rates.

Jennifer Russell, Manager of Training Programs at the Yukon Mine Training Association and Ready to Mine Project Steering Committee member, is optimistic about the project.

“This program is going to help Aboriginal peoples across Canada. It is going to give them the confidence they need to take advantage of all the opportunities available in the mining industry,” she says. “Industry and communities have both been asking for this type of program to tap into more skill-specific training.”

Adele Faubert, Manager of Aboriginal Affairs at Goldcorp Inc.’s Musselwhite Mine and member of the Ready to Mine Project Steering Committee, agrees that the program provides a viable solution that is mutually beneficial to both employers and Aboriginal communities.

“It makes good business sense to have a local trained work force at a remote mine site,” Faubert explains. “And employment opportunities are much needed within remote [Aboriginal] communities because the unemployment rate is high. The local community elders really support employment for their youth for the health and well being of the community, the more people they have employed, the more functional the community.”

The Ready to Mine, Skills Development Project also provides a strategic solution to the industry’s current struggle to find skilled workers and it will help employers offset the gap from the 40 per cent of workers eligible to retire in the next ten years by providing them with a trained local work force – an advantage for remote mine sites and Aboriginal communities, according to Faubert.

With First Nations involvement on the project right from the start, MiHR’s partnership with the AFN also illustrates the Council’s continued commitment to increasing the available opportunities for Aboriginal peoples in the mining industry and builds upon the Guide for Aboriginal Communities publication that was released in 2009. A must-read for career seekers, the guide contains information on post-secondary education options for mining careers, as well as a list of occupations in the industry and the education and training requirements for each. Ever considered a career as a geologist, demolition expert, surveyor, mechanic, accountant or safety specialist? For more information on these occupations and the many other exciting opportunities in the mining industry, visit to access the Guide for Aboriginal Communities.

MiHR and the AFN are partnering with the following organizations in the development of this unique program: the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, the Mining Association of Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, Natural Resources Canada, Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Mine Training Society and Yukon Chamber of Mines.

The Ready to Mine, Skills Development Project, funded by HRSDC’s Aboriginal Affairs Directorate under the Aboriginal Skills Training Strategic Investment Fund, will undergo a pilot testing phase. Participants will be identified based on program interest, proximity to mine sites, community needs and proven track record for training delivery.

Melanie Sturk, MiHR’s Director of Attraction, Retention and Transition, will be overseeing the project. Melanie is responsible for enhancing workplace diversity by developing initiatives that encourage new workers, specifically those from underrepresented groups, to engage in mining careers. For more information on the Mining Essentials: A Work Readiness Training Program for Aboriginal Peoples, please contact Melanie at