Celebration held to mark first milestone of Pathways to Shipbuilding Indigenous Education and Apprenticeship Pilot Program

Halifax, NS – Nineteen Indigenous students enrolled in the Pathways to Shipbuilding Indigenous Education and Apprenticeship Pilot Program (Pathways to Shipbuilding) are one step closer to a long-term career as metal fabricators building ships for Canada with Irving Shipbuilding.

Today students celebrated the successful completion of the Pathways to Shipbuilding’s initial 14-week preparatory training required for their entry into the Metal Fabrication program at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC).

 Pathways to Shipbuilding is a unique collaboration of ten industry, government, academic and Indigenous partners. The program, facilitated through the NSCC Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence, is designed to create pathways and support for Indigenous Canadians to enter the shipbuilding industry.

The Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre is the lead community partner and is working with other Indigenous organizations to provide support services to the students.

The 14-week preparatory training program focused on personal and academic readiness and metal fabrication career exploration. Students spent the first month in class at the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre before moving to NSCC’s Akerley Campus where they completed safety courses and spent time learning welding basics.

Over the course of the two-year metal fabrication program, participants will learn and work together, and be mentored and coached by community and industry supporters, including employees working at Irving Shipbuilding.

Students will begin the Metal Fabrication program in January 2017 and conduct two work-terms at Irving Shipbuilding throughout the program. Successful graduates who meet employment eligibility criteria will be employed by Irving Shipbuilding at the end of the two-year diploma program as positions become available.

The Pathways to Shipbuilding collaborators include Irving Shipbuilding Inc., GE Canada, Unifor, NSCC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Aboriginal Affairs (OAA), the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, and Labour and Advanced Education (LAE). 

About the NSCC Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence:

Irving Shipbuilding currently employs 1,500 people, and will be for the next 30 years building Canada’s future combatant fleet as part of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). NSS is designed to create a future of certainty for Canada’s shipbuilding industry and the companies that support it. In anticipation of this, the NSCC Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence was established to provide opportunities for Nova Scotians, particularly under-represented groups, to enter the shipbuilding industry. 


The Honourable Judy M. Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement:

“One of the goals of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy is to rejuvenate our marine industry, support Canadian technological innovation, and bring jobs and prosperity to many communities across Canada. Initiatives such as the Pathways to Shipbuilding Indigenous Education and Apprenticeship Pilot Project is helping to create much-needed jobs that will benefit the establishment of a strong and sustainable shipbuilding industry in Canada.”

Honourable Kelly Regan, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education and Minister responsible for the Apprenticeship Agency:

“This is a great example of the success that can come from government, industry, and community partners working together. The Pathways to Shipbuilding program creates opportunities for aboriginal young people to enter the shipbuilding industry, so they can train toward apprenticeships and successful careers here in the province.” 

Don Bureaux, President Nova Scotia Community College:

“It is an honour to be a part of this incredible partnership that is fostering a tremendous opportunity for a class of determined students who will have the chance to invest the skills and education they receive back into the success of this significant Canadian project.”

Kevin McCoy, President of Irving Shipbuilding, Irving Shipbuilding

“Pathways to Shipbuilding is an exciting part of our workforce strategy that increases trades specific skills and creates long-term metal fabrication career opportunities for Indigenous Canadians. Our work at the Halifax Shipyard building ships for Canada as part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy will increase our workforce by 1,000 shipbuilders over the next five to ten years. It is important that we seek out the best talent from all across the country. Good luck to the students as they begin their metal fabrication training." 

Jamie Sanipass, Elsipogtog First Nation, New Brunswick Student, Pathways to Shipbuilding:

“I think one of the coolest things about it is just the size of the program. They didn’t just look for people in one city or one province, there are people in our class from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. You can tell they put in the time to find the right people for the program.”

Kim Warburton, VP, Communications & Public Affairs, GE Canada:

“GE is proud to be a part of the Pathways to Shipbuilding initiative, a unique 2-year collaborative program, combining academic and hands-on learning.  Congratulations to all participants for achieving the first program milestone.”

Pam Gloade, Executive Director, Friendship Centre

“The Pathways to Shipbuilding program is a great example of communities and organizations coming together to create opportunities for Indigenous people in our region. Our staff have enjoyed working with and supporting the students as they prepare for their training, and we will be there to support them as they work hard to become proud Indigenous marine fabricators and shipbuilders.”

Bob Orr, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer:

“As the union representing workers at the Halifax Shipyard, Unifor is very pleased to be part of the Pathways to Shipbuilding project and we extend our most enthusiastic congratulations to the students as they move on to the next phase in their training. This program can be a model for unions, employers and governments in every region of the country as we work towards more inclusive workplaces and to provide opportunities to First Nations and Aboriginal workers.”