A CAREER IN THE SKILLED TRADES offers a bright future that’s full of possibilities.

If you’re looking for a career that can give you a bright future, that pays well and provides good benefits, that offers you a feeling of accomplishment and pride (“I built that!”), then take a chance on the skilled trades. You just might find your dream career! You could even go on to own your own construction business, just like Karma Hunter. Check out her story. Or like Deanna Johnson, who started her construction company so she could build quality homes for her community. See the video below on Deanna.

The construction industry is one of the top employers in Canada among Indigenous people today and there are many Native-focused organizations and programs to help you succeed.

With Canada’s abundance of resources, many of the big construction projects planned over the coming decade will be happening in northern locations. If you live in or close to one of these areas, there is a lot of opportunity opening up that will also enable you to stay close to your community.

Click on the map below to see where the projects – and jobs – are in your territory or province. 

DID YOU KNOW...
For more than 100 years, highly skilled ironworkers have come from Aboriginal communities across Canada. Visit the Aboriginal Ironworker website to learn about the tradition and opportunities in ironworking. Also check out the video below on the Mohawk Skywalkers.

Helping you to enter the skilled trades

There are ongoing efforts to help Indigenous people get started in the construction industry and a number of support tools for those wishing to enter the skilled trades.

The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) can provide you with training or skills upgrading and help finding a high-demand job.

Learn more about the great organizations and programs that focus specifically on helping Indigenous people to get into an apprenticeship and succeed in the trades. Be sure to check out the videos on this page to hear people in some of these programs talk about their experiences.

A number of bursaries are available for learning a skilled trade. Check out this bursaries search tool on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada website.

If you have some construction experience, or want to enter the industry, BuildForce Canada (formerly the Construction Sector Council) has a workbook you can download that will help you to

  • assess your knowledge, skills, strengths, weaknesses and gaps
  • create a plan for your future
  • put together a quality employment portfolio and resume

DOWNLOAD:
“How to present your skills and experience to the construction industry: A workbook for Aboriginal people interested in employment in construction.”

DID YOU KNOW...
Between 2012 and 2020, 67% of all job openings will require university, college or apprenticeship training?

What to do next

Use the Career Finder to explore more than 50 careers in the construction industry. It can help you narrow down your options by specifying criteria such as whether or not you want a career that keeps you close to home, do you prefer to work in cities versus remote areas and things like that.

ASETS employment coordinators can help you to connect with employers and training institutions as you pursue an apprenticeship. To find a career counsellor near you, contact your local ASETS office – you can find it on the Employment and Social Development Canada website.

Check out the How to get started section where you can learn more about apprenticeships and training in general.

The Aboriginal Construction Careers website can also provide information for both employees and their employers.

Also check out our Pinterest board, Indigenous People in Construction, for more information and resources.

AND REMEMBER...
The power is in you to soar high and reach your dreams!

Videos

APTN Mohawk Ironworkers
Mohawk Ironworkers is a 13-part half-hour documentary series that celebrates the steely determination of the Mohawk ironworkers of Kahnawake, Akwesasne and Six Nations, said to be “the best ironworkers on the planet.”
Aboriginal Apprentices
Learn about opportunities in the skilled trades, and hear what apprentices have to say about their experiences.
Nations Construction Consulting: An Aboriginal Business Success Story
Deanna Johnson started her construction company so she could build quality homes for First Nations people.
Opportunities Through the ASETS Program
This video talks about the opportunities available through the ASETS program (formerly called the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Agreements, AHRDAs).
Aboriginal Women: The Opportunity is Now
Women talk about their experiences in the Women Building Futures program.
Training - VanAsep Tsawwassen
Sam Jimmy got his Heavy Equipment Operator ticket through VanAsep Tsawwassen and now plans to expand his construction business.
The Legendary Mohawk Skywalkers
Learn about the history of the legendary Mohawk Skywalkers (ironworkers).