Too few aboriginals working at Muskrat Falls, group says

The Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership says not enough of their grads are being hired at the Muskrat Falls construction site.
Muskrat Falls, Labrador. (CBC)

A group tasked to train aboriginal workers for jobs at Muskrat Falls thinks not enough of their grads are being hired.

Nalcor Energy's latest statistics show that aboriginals from Labrador account for eight per cent of workers at the construction site.

Keith Jacque is the executive director of the Labrador Aboriginal Training Partnership. He said while hundreds of aboriginals are ready to work, only a small percentage have been hired.

"I don't know if it's a process of some subcontractors not knowing we're here, or not knowing what aboriginals are out there, but it's no trouble to hear around town about the number of people coming into the area — and yet there are a number of aboriginals here ready, willing and able to work," said Jacque.

About 500 people from the three aboriginal groups in Labrador have already trained.

Jacque said he will challenge any claim that Innu, Inuit and Nunatukavut workers aren't available.

"For any person to come to Labrador and say that there's no aboriginal ready or there's very few, you know then I would have to contest that, you know, for the training that's going on here in Labrador."

This week, people in Natuashish are getting a heads-up about working at Muskrat Falls. Nalcor's Innu employment and training team is letting people in the community know about the opportunities available, and is encouraging those who qualify to register on a Muskrat Falls job database.

According to the hiring protocol under the impacts and benefits agreement signed between Nalcor and the Innu Nation, members of the Innu Nation are to be given priority for jobs.

Jacque said there are a number of success stories.

"They might not be well known, but there are people who are LATP-trained that are working on the [Muskrat Falls] site and are doing exceptionally well," Jacque added.

Two training programs are scheduled to begin on March 25 and on April 8, with two more planned for June.