By Shawna Snache, MNO Employment in Energy-South Project Coordinator and Kirk Fournier, MNO Employment in Energy-North Project Coordinator

High Voltage SuccessMNO Employment in Energy participant Aaron Sallows at work on the tower lines.

In our educational and career pursuits, success is at times difficult to define. Building on previous success the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Employment in Energy Program (EEP) has once again been instrumental in assisting participants embarking upon their chosen careers in the energy sector.

With the addition of a second site running out of Northern College in Timmins, the MNO EEP has been able to establish new partnerships, expand on existing ones, and offer the program to Aboriginal learners in two separate locations this past year.

Building upon the successful partnership established with Georgian College-Barrie Campus, the MNO EEP-South was enhanced with the addition of a new course, “General Engineering”, to bring the Technology Foundations course load up to seven courses over the semester. Fifteen Aboriginal students, the majority of them Métis, began the program at Georgian in August, 2011. It is worth noting that more Aboriginal women have been showing interest in this program, and four Métis women had the distinction of completing the course last November and earning their Certificate of Achievement.With the addition of a second site running out of Northern College in Timmins, the MNO EEP has been able to establish new partnerships, expand on existing ones, and offer the program to Aboriginal learners in two separate locations this past year.

In addition to regular in-class training, the 2011 MNO EEP South class explored field trips including one to the Kortright Conservation Centre as well as hosting several guest speakers from both mainstream and the emerging green energy sector. Five members of the class even received sponsorship to attend the 23rd annual Association of Power Producers of Ontario (APPrO) Conference in Toronto where they met with industry and made contacts in the field. Two MNO EEP South students were interviewed by the media and their interviews can be heard at

Upon completion of the 16 weeks of study, the MNO EEP South was successful securing work placements for students with Ontario Power Generation, Valard Construction, Acute Electrical, The Great Canadian Wiring Co Ltd., Georgian College-Midland Campus, and Tower Enterprises. Work placements are scheduled for up to 16 weeks. One student, Aaron Sallows, knew he wanted to work on power lines from the beginning of the program and now as a Valard employee is working with the fly crew recently featured on the Rick Mercer Report. Aaron is enjoying his dream job as a linesman and is a prime example of how this program has been successful changing the lives of participants.

MNO EEP North, in partnership with Northern College-Porcupine Campus, in Timmins, recently wrapped up the academic component of the project. Twenty Métis and First Nation participants engaged in 16 weeks of condensed learning. The project goal was to combine rigorous in class learning with hands-on energy and multi trade experience. Participants were also exposed to guest speakers from energy leaders like Hydro One and Union Gas. Field trips to view green energy components such as wind turbines and solar panels, gave students a view of this vastly growing entity in the energy sector. Most important, participants from both sites were able to attain transferable post-secondary credits that can be applied to future post-secondary opportunities.

MNO EEP North proved very effective for two particular participants. Mathieu Leblanc had always had an interest in trades. He viewed MNO EEP as a means to investigate that interest. Mathieu’s interest in trades and the project convinced him to pursue a job within northern Ontario’s strong mining community. As of December, 2011, Mathieu is gainfully employed with GoldCorp Mines in Timmins. He states the interest gained through the project motivated him to this goal. He is also very proud of the post-secondary credits he attained while in the project.

Jeff Portelance came to the project very apprehensive as he had not been involved with education for many years. Through diligence, he was successful and his strength paid off as he sought work with Hydro One as a sub-contractor. Jeff now works in remote areas for Hydro One as a line cutter. He credits the confidence he gained while in the project with giving him the courage to pursue his employment goals.

On January 9, 2012, the MNO EEP North participants began their placement experience. We are proud to include Barrick Gold, Electrical Service Solutions – Timmins, D & H Electrical, Con’s Electric, Five Nations Energy Inc, and Northern College Porcupine Campus, as project employers for this round. We know our participants will get a fulfilling and well-rounded experience with these energy sector employers.

The MNO strives to support positive, lasting change for current as well as future participants of all Employment in Energy Programs.