July 3, 2014 11:40 am
Updated: July 3, 2014 5:02 pm

Irving says hiring aboriginal workers positive first step for shipyard

HALIFAX – Irving Shipbuilding says it is employing aboriginal workers who graduated from a Mi’kmaq training program as a first step towards recruiting more minority workers.

The company says four Mi’kmaq tradespeople are working on siding, cladding and roofing at the yard through a contract Irving awarded to Flynn Canada Ltd.

Company president Kevin McCoy says Flynn won a $10-million contract for the work partly because it was making use of a program based in Sydney, N.S., that trains Mi’kmaq tradespeople.

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“A responsibility as big and as important as building Canada’s next combat naval vessels inherently comes with the need to work that much harder to maximize value,” he said.

“We recognize our responsibilities and the expectations of all of our communities, and we’re committed to working in partnership…to explore ways to increase capacity, skills, experience and ultimately, opportunity within the program.”

He anticipates the shipyard will be hiring more Mi’kmaq tradespeople through the 21-week training program, but he declined to provide a specific target or give a current figure for the number of aboriginal workers in Halifax.

The company says it has been keeping the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office of Nova Scotia informed of the skills it needs to allow the aboriginal agency to train workers that meet them.

Irving won a $25-billion contract in 2011 to build Canada’s next generation of warships.

With files from Natasha Pace

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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