SLAAMB wraps up another busy, challenging year
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
When it comes to the past year at the Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board (SLAAMB), Ziggy Beardy takes a rather philosophical view.
“It was a very challenging year, our second year under COVID. We had to try to work our way around it and I think we’ve done quite well, under the circumstances.”
Beardy, SLAAMB’s Assistant Coordinator, continued, “Our main (training course) was our carpentry training program that we have. The trainees went home today (Dec. 17), so we had to wrap that up today. But we had classroom training for the nine trainees we had for that, in class training on carpentry basics, and also ICF, (Insulated Concrete Forms) … they are like Lego blocks, you put them together. That’s a new building material we are using now at the site, an instructor came and trained the participants how to assemble them and what they are used for and all that. We also did training on fencing and flooring, and they did some initial small projects like picnic tables.”
The site Beardy is referring to is a property in Hudson, where several buildings are being constructed as part of SLAAMB’s carpentry program. Beardy continued, “There’s three buildings they are working on, a warehouse/workshop, a garage, and a three-story learning centre. They finished the second floor already, but we had some challenges with getting deliveries. You can’t get a truck ‘just like that’, but I think everybody is facing that here in town. But we were able to do quite a bit. We did work on the warehouse/workshop, the framing has been done for the garage, we’re going to do the roofing after Christmas.”
Another SLAAMB milestone this past year was the 30th Anniversary of the organization, which saw them host a ceremony at the Best Western in Dryden on Nov 23. As Beardy describes, “We had our 30th year anniversary banquet. It went well. We had our board members come, our staff. We had our former first coordinator come and speak at the event as well. SLAAMB started in 1991. We’ve grown quite a bit since then.”
Beardy continued, “We’ve also done online career fairs and online conferences with our partners up north. We work with the band economic development offices up north in the 25 communities that we service. So, we stay in contact with them and let them know new developments, and when they need to submit new training applications to us. That’s our main focus anyway, since the beginning, to work with our communities with employment and training programs and initiatives. Of course, we are growing, so that’s why we have our carpentry program in Hudson. We have other plans for once the carpentry program is over. We’ll have other trades training on site, once the learning centre is finished and the warehouse and workshop are ready, we’re going to have other trades training like plumbing, electrical, drywalling. We already bought some land for development next year. We are going to build another residence, mainly for females… we bought some land right across from our (other) lot there, so we can have more females in our program in the future.”
As Beardy describes, it’s not just the local projects that have kept SLAAMB so busy this year.
“We also have a program for off-reserve clients. We have clients scattered all over the country, and those that live in urban centres that want funding for training, they can contact our office and we work with them or their employer or training centre. I look after that program so I’m usually quite busy. I get calls all the time with people wanting to get training. We also funded people to take firefighting courses during the summer and they then got hired on. We also do pilot training. We work with a training centre in Manitoba to train young people to be pilots, so those programs are working quite well.”
As Beardy relates, when it comes to having a successful year, it comes down, in part, to community support.
“We are glad for the support of the community. Especially the local contractors, plumbing, electrical, heating, septic… they are really helpful for us with the work we are doing in Hudson, and we’ve developed a good rapport with them. And the town (of Sioux Lookout), and the town council too. The mayor is very supportive of what we are doing and always comes out when we have graduation ceremonies from our training programs. Of course, the good coverage from the Sioux Lookout Bulletin too. We’re just glad Sioux Lookout is a good place to live and to work together, and we look forward to working together in the New Year.”