SLAAMB celebrates carpentry program successes
Tim Brody - Editor
“At first it was kind of scary because you don’t know what you’re doing... For me, this is my dream career,” shared SLAAMB carpentry trainee Tristan Korobanik.
Korobanik, who lives in Dryden, was one of 10 students who enrolled in the Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board’s carpentry program last year.
The organization was able to secure land in Hudson in 2019 and after clearing the lot, trainers worked with the 10 trainees to construct a six bedroom (three bedrooms per unit) duplex.
“I found it a lot of fun – look at this,” Korobanik said indicating the duplex. “People are going to live in here,” he said with obvious pride.
The Bulletin spoke with Korobanik on August 18 in Hudson during a celebration to mark the grand opening of the duplex and break ground on the construction of a second six bedroom duplex.
Nine trainees completed their training, earning level one carpentry certification.
The 10th trainee, whose skill was recognized by their community, was asked by their community to return home to apply their newly earned carpentry knowledge.
Some trainees are returning to work on the second duplex to earn their carpentry level two certification, while others are beginning level one of the carpentry program.
“I’m pretty excited because I don’t have to ask for help now,” Korobanik said, adding his goal is to get his Red Seal in carpentry.
“It makes me feel very happy and proud,” SLAAMB Coordinator Mary Tait said, upon hearing Korobanik speak so passionately about the training opportunity and his desire to obtain his Red Seal.
“I’d like to thank the students and the trainers for this accomplishment. I am very proud of the work that they’ve done,” she said, adding, “My belief is when you pave the way for somebody, you hope that they will continue to upscale their skills.”
The duplexes are being constructed as part of a 10 year agreement with Employment and Social Development Canada through their Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program.
“This our first year and we have the house… by the 10th year, I hope to see 20 Indigenous journeymen because it’s a need in the communities – the houses. There’s a lot of people who are homeless in our home communities and they surf house to house. Hopefully they get their carpenters and they build for their community members,” Tait remarked.
The construction of the duplexes not only presented a training opportunity, they will also help SLAAMB accommodate their learners while they are in Sioux Lookout.
Ziggy Beardy, who was the Master of Ceremonies at the celebration to open the first duplex, is SLAAMB’s Assistant Coordinator.
“When we brought in our trainees we ended up putting them in hotels and our hotel bill for one year is almost the cost of this house here, so we decided to invest in our own building,” he shared.
“I’m eyeing that building for a training centre,” he said, indicating an old garage on the property.
“This was a culmination of training and also work experience. We partnered with Seven Generations. They did carpentry math and level one, level two theory on our carpentry apprenticeship and the actual work experience was done by the journeyman Red Seal carpenter from Manitoba,” Beardy said of this past year’s training.
“We’re really excited about it,” Beardy said of opening the first duplex and breaking ground on the second one. “We’ve looked forward to it. Before COVID hit we were going to plan a major celebration at the end of March before everyone went home.”
Keewaytinesh Future Training Corporation Board Member Matthew Angees attended the grand opening celebration.
“Last time when I was here we broke the ground at this site when we commenced the project.
“I’m very glad to see the progression and the work that has been done by the staff and also by the trainees.
“As others have stated, I think it was a dream of everyone to try to find ways of how we can be able to work together with our partners, with our two levels of government, to be able to make this possible. I just wanted to thank them for granting the funds that we need; as well the communities that have allowed their young men to come here and live in Sioux Lookout,” he said.
“I hope we expand to other trades… My wish, I know we’re doing carpentry skills right now, but those of you who are from the northern communities, we lack in plumbers. We lack in electricians. We lack in other critical areas in the ways that communities can benefit from. We do have carpenters, but carpenters don’t usually have the tickets that they need in order to be a journeyman, but that’s what this program does. It provides the tickets that they need in order to be qualified.
“That’s what I see, is that we don’t have enough other tradespeople in terms of the areas that I mentioned. I think that’s what we need to focus on, because the demand of the trainees that are here, once they go back to their communities, they’ll be expected to do.”
Asked about branching out into other trades training, Beardy said, “Maybe we’ll train plumbers and electricians there someday, but our focus right now is on the carpentry program that we’re going to be running.”
He added, “Once we finish these (the duplexes) then we’ll diverge into other trades training of plumbing and electrical. We had a program, some time back, we worked with the building of the new hospital in which we brought our people from up north to get training in the trades and actually work at the hospital site.”
SLAAMB Board Member Albert James also attended the duplex grand opening, stating, “I think we’ve made a lot of progress, made a lot of improvements to our communities. That’s the intent of SLAAMB, I believe, is to train our young people, our citizens of our communities to be in better and better areas of work. I’m just hoping this will continue. It’s nice to see some of the buildings here being finished and starting on another one.”
Municipality of Sioux Lookout Acting Deputy Mayor Joe Cassidy also attended the celebration sharing, “As a first term councillor, it’s nice to see something that has come to the council table and to see it come to fruition as is the case here. Everyone knows there’s a shortage of trades workers and especially in the north, so to see SLAAMB and their partners take a big step with this building to coming to completion is really inspiring to see.
“I just want to see this model continue to expand, thrive and grow and I’m happy that they chose to do this in Sioux Lookout and Hudson.”