, delayed by 20 minutes

Students celebrate completion of Construction and Trades Readiness Program

December 2021 – Twenty students from five northern Indigenous communities are celebrating the successful completion of Cenovus Energy’s Construction and Trades Readiness Program. Launched in partnership with Portage College in March 2021 as part of our Indigenous Housing Initiative, the program’s goal is to provide community-based construction and trades training for individuals in the Initiative’s partner communities.

“At the heart of the Indigenous Housing Initiative’s success is the fact the project is community-led,” says Trent Zacharias, Director, Community & Indigenous Affairs at Cenovus. “The Initiative’s Construction and Trades Readiness Program is a key way for us to support the communities in building skills to assist with ongoing home maintenance and construction.”

Portage College developed the curriculum, ensuring the program could be delivered both in-person and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Programming for all communities was divided into two components: academic readiness and trades exposure. Throughout this process, we coordinated with the College to ensure every student had proper computer equipment and internet connectivity.

The academic readiness component initially focused on identifying individual goals, building relationships between the instructor and students and exploring the needs of each student. It then moved to training focused on the math, science and communication skills necessary for employment in trades and the completion of the trades entrance exam.

During the trades exposure, students were tasked with rebuilding certain structures within the community as well as the construction of a community-based legacy project. The partner communities were involved in the entire construction process, with many trades-certified community members either leading or directing the build. Each legacy project was unique and included:

Construction and Trades Readiness Program
  • Cold Lake First Nations - the community wanted to construct a tiny home by reclaiming a Quonset. The build focused on carpentry, with students working with other tradesmen (such as electricians).
  • Beaver Lake - the students built a large greenhouse for the community. Given the size of the project, students learned construction skills and were introduced to heavy equipment operations.
  • Heart Lake - the community wanted to construct a community pavilion outside of the band office, in addition to several picnic tables. Students had the opportunity to observe and support other tradesmen.
  • Conklin – the community decided on a tiny home build. Working together, students were involved in a variety of tasks involved in the home construction.

The final group of students completed their project in October.

Building on the program’s success, Cenovus will partner with Portage College again in 2022 to launch another 24-week program for the Initiative’s partner communities.