Aboriginal employment a focus for Hudbay – by Jonathon Naylor (Flin Flon Reminder – June 25, 2015)


In 2013, at the height of the Idle No More protest movement, Hudbay found itself mired in controversy.

Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, a small native band based in Pukatawagan, declared the company in breach of treaty law by opening its Lalor and Reed mines near Snow Lake without First Nations consent.

The powers that be (and much of the public) sided with Hudbay and mining carried on as planned. The episode may have soured some First Nations people on Hudbay, but it hasn’t dampened the company’s enthusiasm for bringing more Aboriginals – perhaps a lot more – into the workforce.

“We find that building familiarity and understanding is what we need to accomplish,” says Rob Winton, vice-president, Manitoba Business Unit for Hudbay. “If you don’t work in a sector, you might know what it does in the broadest sense but not have much familiarity with all the aspects and details of it. I don’t think that’s unusual or unique to First Nations. But because we want to provide opportunity for Aboriginal people to be part of Hudbay, we’re trying to bridge that gap. We want them to see and believe that Hudbay is an option.”

To that end, Hudbay employs a series of initiatives designed to fashion a workforce that is more demographically reflective of its northern Manitoba base.

As one example, the company has collaborated on a training program, known as Introduction to Industry, to engage job-seekers from Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) near The Pas.

At the core of Introduction to Industry is a comprehensive partnership involving Hudbay, OCN, University College of the North and Northern Manitoba Sector Council, made up of Hudbay and other industrial players in the region.

Also on board are two government-funded training initiatives, Workplace Education Manitoba and Workplace Essential Skills Training, better known as WEST.

Winton says the partners are now working to improve the impact of the four-month program, which last year involved 37 students.

Winton refers also to the Northern Manitoba Sector Council’s apprenticeship program to help Aboriginals from northern Manitoba achieve trade certification.

Of 200 applicants, 35 were chosen to begin apprenticeships in 2014.

“Over the course of four years, apprentices will spend two months of each year in in-class technical training and 10 months on the job,” says Winton, adding that Hudbay supports the program by providing job placements.

Further to that, Winton says Hudbay is building a partnership with the Flin Flon Aboriginal Friendship Centre and views the Flin Flon-based Northern Manitoba Mining Academy as an avenue for skills development.

In addition to potential direct employment for Aboriginals, Winton says Hudbay is helping First Nations businesses get onto the bidders’ list to provide contract services to the company.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.thereminder.ca/news/local-news/aboriginal-employment-a-focus-for-hudbay-1.1977714