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.
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.
- ASETS offices are “agreement holders” who operate right across Canada.
- There are First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban ASETS offices that all provide a similar range of services.
- Each has their own distinctive name though, so you won’t see an organization called “ASETS” for example.
- Find your local ASETS office on the Employment and Social Development Canada website.
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
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.
The power is in you to soar high and reach your dreams!