Aboriginals look to cash in on Irving shipbuilding deal

The federal, provincial and First Nations of New Brunswick do not want local aboriginals to miss the boat on Irving ship building work.

Irving has a $25 billion, 25-year federal contract to build Canadian combat ships in Halifax

The federal, provincial and First Nations of New Brunswick do not want local aboriginal people to miss the boat on jobs associated with the Irving Shipbuilding contract.

Many New Brunswick companies are expected to bid on various parts of the $25-billion contract that was awarded in 2011. Halifax's Irving Shipbuilding will be constructing 21 Canadian combat ships as a part of the massive deal.

Mark Taylor is the communications manager with JEDI, the Joint Economic Development Initiative. It's a group made up of representatives from the federal, provincial and First Nations governments as well as industry.

Taylor says the group is looking for ways to make sure aboriginal people get a crack at some of the $25-billion business.

"It's a lot of money, it's a lot of work, it's a lot of opportunity for many people and we want to make sure that the aboriginal people of New Brunswick had as much opportunity as everybody else to benefit," says Taylor.

The group is looking for aboriginal entrepreneurs or people who want to start a business. It also wants First Nations trades people or to help aboriginal people study a trade.

"Some training programs put together to prepare aboriginal people for the employment opportunities that will exist," says Taylor.

Taylor says they have held meetings across the province to encourage First Nations people to participate.

He says JEDI will also be part of an aboriginal job fair that will be held at the University of New Brunswick Fredericton campus on Friday.