Huu-ay-aht and NIC negotiate training and education agreement

Huu-ay-aht First Nations and North Island College negotiating training and education positions for Huu-ay-aht citizens

As part of a long-term employment strategy to secure direct and spin-off jobs for Huu-ay-aht citizens if its LNG Project proposed for the Alberni Inlet goes forward, Huu-ay-aht First Nations is negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding with North Island College.

This would provide Huu-ay-aht citizens with funding and training for a wide variety of skilled trades positions related to the LNG sector. It would include positions such as pipefitters, welders, plumbers, iron workers, equipment operators, electrician and other trades.

The long-term employment strategy for Huu-ay-aht citizens would also include capacity-building education and training for a wide range of administrative, technical and professional service careers such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers, human resources officers and numerous other administrative positions.

The initiative being developed with North Island College would bring additional trades programs to the College’s Port Alberni campus, with guaranteed seats for Huu-ay-aht citizens. The initial outline for the program would see Huu-ay-aht applicants job shadow several different skilled trades before working with a counsellor to select a specific trade. Once placed in a program, citizens would receive ongoing academic support from the moment they start school. This would include being placed with an industry partner to accumulate the apprenticeship hours they would need to become journeymen.

“Our goal is to provide as many of our citizens as possible with secure, well-paying jobs and careers,” says Jeff Cook, Elected Chief Councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations. “The first step is to get citizens ticketed and have them become qualified journeymen. To do that, we’ll work with the provincial government, industry partners and Vancouver Island colleges to put the required programs and funding in place for our people. We’ve already made excellent progress with North Island College and, if the proposed Project moves forward, we can complete that process and expand it to include other colleges and institutions. That could also include providing training and support for citizens of other Nuuchahnulth Nations.”

Cook said similar training programs for First Nations have worked well in BC’s mining industry. He is optimist that a Memorandum of Understanding could be signed with North Island College early in the new year, a view shared by North Island College President John Bowman. If that happens, Huu-ay-aht citizens could begin their training in these programs as early as next summer in 2015.

“At North Island College, we’re committed to developing innovative partnerships with First Nations and industry to ensure British Columbia can meet its long-term need for skilled workers,” Bowman explains. “We are looking forward to concluding a Memorandum of Understanding with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations to ensure their citizens can access the technical training they need in their home community.”

If a Final Investment Decision to build the proposed LNG facility is made in 2018, it is expected up to 4,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase, with 300 to 400 full-time jobs created when the plant is operational. In addition, the proposed Project would generate hundreds of spin-off jobs and business opportunities in the Alberni Valley in many sectors. These could include business administration, hospitality, manufacturing, first aid, accommodation, recreation, tourism, transportation, catering, security and other service sectors. The local community could also see spin-off jobs with restaurants, schools, grocery stores, hotels, hospitals and providers of medical, business, heavy machinery, industrial and other services.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a self-governing Nation, whose lands are located in the Barclay Sound at the entrance to the Port Alberni inlet. Huu-ay-aht First Nations is a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and one of the five First Nations signatories to the Maa-nulth Final Agreement, the first modern-day treaty to be concluded on Vancouver Island, which came into effect April 1st, 2011. Of the approximately 750 Huu-ay-ahtcitizens, 15% reside around the village of Anacla, the Nation’s principal community close to Bamfield. The remaining 85% live in Port Alberni, the Vancouver area, across Vancouver Island and beyond. The Huu-ay-ahthave full ownership and jurisdiction over more than 8,200 hectares of land within their territories and continue to have rights throughout their Ha’houlthee (traditional territories). For more information about Huu-ay-aht First Nations, visit