Edmonton program to train Indigenous women for work on Trans Mountain pipeline
‘I saw eyes light up from every age and stage in life when we talk about that income increase'
A dozen Indigenous women from central Alberta are about to begin a course that could land them jobs in the construction of the multi-billion dollar Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
A joint program between Women Building Futures and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project will train the women for work on the $6.8-billion project which is expected to begin in September.
Valerie Moses, coordinator of the TMEP pipeline readiness program, said the eight-week course will cover safety as well as basic training in carpentry and welding.
Completing the program alone can more than double what participants might expect to make in future income, Moses said.
The program estimates the wages of the average participant will rise from $11.62 an hour to $27.
"I saw eyes light up from every age and stage in life when we talk about that income increase and the mobility it gives from an economic standpoint," Moses said.
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The project will triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline to 890,000 barrels a day, moving a mix of oil products from Edmonton to a terminal in Burnaby, B.C., near Vancouver.
Several Indigenous groups have expressed opposition to the expansion.
The 12 participants, shortlisted from a list of 43 applicants, come from the Samson Cree Nation, Paul First Nation and Edmonton.
They also come from a wide range of backgrounds, Moses said.
Some are new mothers while others are looking for a second career.
"We really have a diverse audience that we are working with," Moses said. "What we do is ensure the women who come into our training programs are informed about the commitment they are making."
When the program ends in August, the women will become part of a database from which pipeline contractors will be expected to hire first before searching for skilled labourers.
For those unsuccessful in obtaining jobs on the pipeline, Women Building Futures will help them find jobs elsewhere.