Wahgoshig, Primero Mining finds common ground in hard rock mining
A Northern College mining training program is providing a path to employment for a northeastern Ontario First Nation community.
A Feb. 24 ceremony held at the college’s Timmins campus for five Wahgoshig First Nation residents who graduated from the underground hard rock miner common core program marked the fourth and final class from a successful three-way partnership between the college, Wahgoshig, and Primero Mining Corp., operators of the Black Fox Gold Mine near Matheson.
Buoyed by funding from the province’s Aboriginal Economic Development Fund, that brings the total complement of Wahgoshig graduates to 24, with 72 per cent from that group still working in the mining industry.
The training has been a life-changing experience for many 20-somethings in the community of 170, just south of Matheson, said George Sackaney, the community’s Aboriginal liaison officer.
“We’re very happy with the success rate of the program. It gives an opportunity for our young people to get good steady employment.”
Eight years ago, the community’s unemployment rate hovered around 85 per cent. Now he places it at five per cent, with many residents working for Primero and Detour Gold in the fertile mineral belt between Timmins and Kirkland Lake.
Sackaney finds the program prepares them well to enter the workforce and meet the expectations of employers.
“I personally know eight (graduates) who are registered band members and they’re all doing great. “They were very happy with the opportunity if given the chance to better themselves, and from what I’ve seen their lives got better.”
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