Keewatin residents training for mining jobs
Kivalliq community mobilization moves a head for second year

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 18/98) - John Alikut of Arviat is finishing a mining training course that should help him get a job. It's the first training program he's ever enjoyed.

Alikut, 35, is one of 21 participants in this year's Kivalliq community mobilization program, which provides mining readiness training for those who will be looking for jobs in the industry through a 24-day intensive preparation.

"I like the land and I think I'm going to enjoy it more than all the jobs I've had in the past," he said.

Page Burt, co-ordinator for community mobilization, said that funding has been approved for the project, and she looks forward to seeing more people graduate from the program and get jobs in the mining field.

"The need for jobs is so acute, people barely hear about it (and) see it as hope and come in and apply," she said.

Burt said that the training, 12 hours a day, six days a week, provides the workers with instruction in CPR and first aid, WHMIS (handling of hazardous materials), as well as the possibility to receive more specialized training.

Now in its second year, the government- and business-funded program provided 21 people with jobs in the industry last year and is projected to do the same this year. Most of those who were trained in 1997 found positions as laborers, core splitters and geotechnical assistants.

"The core (of the training) is safety -- mine and exploration safety and work readiness because we take people who don't have a lot of job experience," she said.

Alikut, like countless others in the North who can't find jobs in the high-unemployment communities, hasn't worked since 1993. He last job was at the Northern Store in Arviat, stocking shelves, but he didn't enjoy it.

The father of four sees community mobilization as a step in the right direction for him and for others who haven't been able to find work to support their families.

As he is about to write a test, Alikut can hardly think of anything else except completing the course and starting his job.

"I hope I pass," he said.