Derek Keller | Vice President Production.Â Recent Chair’s Award Winner At The RCE Awards For Larincina’s Work With The Bigstone Cree Nation.
Laricina Energy Ltd. (Laricina)Â is creating value by developing Canadaâ€™s oil sands using innovative in situ technologies. TheÂ Company has two core producing projects at Saleski and Germain with additional development areas in early-stage exploration and technical evaluation.
One of the ways Laricina is developing exerienced workers in the field is by way of their heavy equipment training program. Designed to enhanceÂ the Bigstone Cree Nation (BCN) membership by providing long-term benefits such as team building, economic development, project management skills, land-use planning, and an increased development of skilled labor while building a sustainable community.
The community investment partnership was formed with the BCN, Alberta Works Human Services, Laricina Energy Ltd. (Laricina), andÂ two industry developers to deliver a three-month training program for 12 local residents in machine operations of the following: rock trucks, excavators, dozers, skid steers and graders; all equipment essential to industry operations.
The Laricina Training Group â€“ 12 Trainees Now Fully Certified
The program involved training in landscaping, ditching, grading, and finishing to engineered standards of the newly constructed, 11-home housing subdivision, within the BCN reserve. The subdivision was expanded to include an additional 22-home subdivision. Upgrades completed twoÂ kilometers of public roads, a new emergency access road was built, and the quality of living was tremendously enhanced for 33 BCN families.
BCN Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) approached Laricina for financial sponsorship towards their Heavy Equipment Training Program. ASETS in partnership with Alberta Works Human Services presented the proposalÂ that focused on the local labour market needs to develop skills at a local level. The proposal provided 12 Wabasca locals (3 females and 9 males) with training on four machines to take place onsite of the BCNâ€™s next phase of the residential subdivision. The training was conducted by High Velocity Equipment Training Ltd.
Laricina was aware the proposed subdivision needed improved drainage, ditching, landscaping, construction of approaches and road upgrades. Laricina suggested adding a fifth piece of equipment, a skidsteer, and incorporating the completion of the 11-lot housing subdivision as part of the training program. The training initiative was designed to address some of the BCNâ€™s housing issues, infrastructure problems, public works challenges, and to develop a workforce that could potentially lead to economic and entrepreneurship opportunities for the First Nation by increasing the number of trained personnel in the community. Laricina believes there is strength in numbers and therefore garnered the support of two other industry members (Cenovus Energy Inc. and Osum Oil Sands Corp).
Laricina took a leadership role in motivatingÂ team players in Wabasca throughout the Heavy Equipment Training Project. The local Laricina Community Engagement office provided continuous guidance to the BCN Director of ASETS, leading the group in the generation of creative ideas. Through the groupâ€™s collaboration, and the knowledgeÂ and expertise from the BCN operations, the team devised a heavy equipment training project that built a sustainable community within their budget.
There were numerous motivating factors for Laricina contributing resources to the Heavy Equipment Training Project. The training programÂ aligns with Laricinaâ€™s Managing Growth Initiative. The Managing Growth Initiative is aimed at better leveraging joint industry and community involvement in programs that create in demand skilled laborÂ and real benefit to community members interested in participating in the industrial development inÂ the province.
The Heavy Equipment Training Program is seen as win-win for both industry proponents and local families benefiting from the work opportunities close to home, taking place on a BCN residential subdivision. The return on investment for Laricina is demonstrated through the improved qualityÂ of life for 33 families, and the 12 trainees now fully certified to operate equipment (most with local companies).
The trainees had the opportunity to give back to their community while learning a trade andÂ will continue to work in the community in the future. Laricinaâ€™s support and involvement of the Heavy Equipment Training Program demonstrates commitment and positive change internally andÂ externally as education and training opportunities at a local level are recognized and valued. Laricina continues to hire local contractors and employees.
The trainees completed their program andÂ have gained employment locally, two residential subdivisions on the reserve were re-developed and transformed, and community members have an increased quality of life. The Heavy Equipment Training Program is a leading practice and could potentially serve as a model to mentor others asÂ it demonstrates how industry, government, the community, and First Nations can work together to benefit all parties.
The BCN leadership is proud to see the trainees overcome their personal challenges and successfully complete the program. The BCN stated they would like to see similar programs in the futureÂ to further increase employability within the BCN membership.
Due to the pilot projectâ€™s success, LaricinaÂ continues to support developing future workforce initiatives like the Heavy Equipment Training Project.
As industry continues to tap into the Athabasca regionâ€™s resources, it has become critical that responsibility is seized to educate and train local workforces to contribute to this major success. This model of the Heavy Equipment Training program identifies how team players can give the community a hand-up rather than a hand-out.
This training project demonstrates a creativeÂ and innovative technique to building long-term benefit partnerships with First Nations. Project management is a challenge when working with a diverse group of stakeholders. However, Laricina was fortunate to be able to work with a motivated and talented group of individuals, all who envisioned a common goal: training local people while building a stronger, self-sustainable community. This project creates a precedent for other industry players working with First Nations.
Larix laricina is the Latin name for a species of larch tree known as theÂ tamarack, which is common to Western Canada and tends to grow in adverse climate zones such as the northern boreal forest and the high mountains. The tamarack is a pioneerÂ tree that becomes dominantÂ in its surroundings. Laricina is seeking to emulate the tamarack by identifying opportunitiesÂ that others have ignored and achieving success where others have been unable to progress.