Mike Holmes, Canada's most famous contractor, is urging native youth to get training to take advantage of growing job opportunities in the building trades.

Holmes was the keynote speaker Thursday at the 2014 Pathways event, Gathering Our Nations’ Youth for Trades.

Young aboriginals from across northern Alberta were on hand as Holmes laid out the career path open to them.

"We built this country," he told the gathering. "We need to keep fixing this country, and we need to continue this."

Holmes, who has worked with aboriginal youth in Canada for years, wants them to know a well-paying career is possible, though it might not come easily.

"The challenges that I've seen are really how to get in — how can I afford it?" Holmes said. "I say it's simple. If you want to do this, you can get in."

Welders, in particular, are in high demand in Alberta, and that's what drew Thalia Nelderis to learn the skill.

"I think it's a good career path to go down," Nelderis told CBC News, "and you can always fall back on your ticket."

Nelderis said she was inspired to learn the skill by an aunt who welds, adding schools too often push academic studies over trades.

Business owners say they need young skilled workers, and that work fairs like Pathways will bring in a new generation of aboriginal tradespeople.

"We have a huge resource of young people right now who are coming into the workforce, who are doing good in the workforce," one businessman said.

Nelderis hopes to weld someday beside an aboriginal woman at a construction site.

"I would love to see more aboriginal youth get into the trades," she said. "It would be a beautiful sight to see."

With files from Scott Fralick