Transitioning Temporary Jobs into Long Term Environmental Careers in Local Indigenous Communities

Oil and gas, utility and mining companies often incorporate local Indigenous Monitors on short-term construction jobs, but this work is mostly temporary with little opportunity for training and personal career growth for interested individuals within the community. To help build environmental careers in the local Indigenous communities where they work, X-Terra Environmental Services Ltd. is incorporating the Eco-Canada Building Environmental Aboriginal Human Resources (BEAHR) Workforce training programs into the up-front environmental assessment of projects, construction monitoring and subsequent ongoing environmental monitoring. X-Terra instructors are now continually carrying out the BEAHR training program throughout the year, incorporating trainees into the various project types and clients for whom they work.  

 The Workforce training programs are also structured to incorporate the knowledge of local communities by inviting Elders and Traditional Knowledge Holders to participate in the course to ensure the material is culturally relevant to the trainees. The X-Terra BEAHR Coordinator works with each BEAHR trainee on a BEAHR Customizable Certificate which allows communities or individual students the opportunity to take the workforce training programs of their choice, based on local needs and employment or educational opportunities. The X-Terra BEAHR participants have the opportunity to take different courses at different points in their career and qualify for a certificate by completing at least 15 instructional weeks of the BEAHR training programs.

 Once trainees complete the BEAHR Customizable Certificate, interested individuals can continue to pursue their environmental career path with these newly acquired skills, which includes opportunities for a longer-term position as an Environmental Technician on new and ongoing projects near their community. The success of the program has been due to X-Terra’s clients, and their outstanding support for the program, which allows them to include a paid field mentorship component into the training, in addition to classroom sessions. This client support allows X-Terra to involve the trainees in the project related field work they are completing near their communities to allow the trainees to become familiar with the environmental assessment, construction and monitoring processes.

BEAHR participants from local communities work as part of the X-Terra field team during the environmental assessments of new projects as Indigenous Technicians, or as Indigenous Monitors on construction projects during their training to gain real world experience and reinforce the classroom training they have received. The BEAHR Program Coordinator is an adviser to each BEAHR participant providing them with tools, techniques and guidance to complete their jobs. In the field the Indigenous Technician/Indigenous Monitor works in conjunction with the environmental assessment Team Lead or on-site Environmental Monitor who act as a mentor to the trainee to provide support and assistance in learning about project specific tasks, and help building general knowledge of the assessment, construction and reclamation practices associated with the industry. We have found this mentorship benefits the trainees by promoting interaction and progression in understanding, and also benefits X-Terra’s clients in the building of relationships and engagement of local communities.