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National Aboriginal Day


Today we celebrate some amazing Aboriginal people and organizations who are partners in research, job creation as well as employees in our organization who are excelling in their own careers, and involved in mentoring the next generation. 

Building Ships, Building Confidence 
Within the walls of the assembly hall at the Halifax Shipyard a team of over 1,360 is hard at work building ships for Canada. Tonia Marshall is hard at work building a more diverse shipbuilding workforce. 

Tonia is the program coordinator of Pathways to Shipbuilding.

Pathways to Shipbuilding is a collaboration of ten industry, government, and Indigenous partners announced for an education and apprenticeship program to create job opportunities for Indigenous students in metal fabrication. The program, offered through the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Akerley Campus in Dartmouth, offers successful students the unique opportunity to build a lasting career in shipbuilding at Irving’s Halifax Shipyard.

Tonia says the confidence gained through the program training inspires students, “The impact the program has on the students is that they believe they can do this,” Tonia said. “They have this community of people who believe in them and want them to do well. It builds their confidence.”

Today, there are 19 students from NSCC participating in the Pathways to Shipbuilding Program.

Tonia describes her job as rewarding, connecting people with skills and jobs at the Halifax Shipyard. “It gives me a good sense of accomplishment that I’m helping people achieve their goals and achieve their dreams.”

Mentorship Matters 
Vicki Berg, Halifax Shipyard served as one of the mentors for the Women Unlimited Program.

In June of 2017, 15 of the 19 women graduating from the program will join Irving Shipbuilding’s workforce at the Halifax Shipyard proudly building ships for Canada.

Irving Shipbuilding strives to build a workforce as diverse as the country itself. This program was one of many initiatives that were made possible by the 2012 establishment of the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence at Nova Scotia Community College. The Centre of Excellence works to create an entry point for underrepresented groups to train for careers and benefit from Canada’s revitalized shipbuilding industry. 



Vicki helped welcome, mentor and train the Women Unlimited students, now on their journey to earning their red seal while playing a vital role in Canada’s history as they work to build the Royal Canadian Navy’s future fleet and build their lives right here in Nova Scotia.

Education for Aboriginal Students 
Desiree Pictou is one of the 2017 recipients of the JDI NB Scholarship at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. The scholarship is awarded to students who are enrolled in an undergraduate degree program in the field of Business, Computer Science, Engineering or Forestry. Desiree currently lives on Ugpi'Ganjig : Eel River Bar First Nation Reserve near Dalhousie, New Brunswick and will be entering her degree in Business Administration in September 2017 in Saint John, NB. 

Funding Marine Research, Partnering with Aboriginal Communities
The Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response (MEOPAR) network and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. awarded $1.8 million to support nine ocean research projects that align with MEOPAR’s aim to strengthen Canada’s ability to anticipate and respond to marine risk. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. partnered with MEOPAR to contribute $1 million toward the call.

Four of the nine research projects will have a direct impact on Aboriginal Communities:

• Arctic Marine Activities Integration & Synthesis Project (AMAIS): Enhancing Ocean Governance Through the Northern Marine Transportation Corridors
Jackie Dawson, University of Ottawa
Partners including: 
- Oceans North Canada
- Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (Canada’s National Inuit Organization)

• Testing New, Innovative & Affordable Technologies for Monitoring & Visualizing the Impacts of Sea Level Rise, Erosion & Storm Surges on Coast Environments
Adam Fenech, University of Prince Edward Island 
Partners Including:
- Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.

• Monitoring Marine Plastics in Canada’s North
Max Liboiron, Memorial University of Newfoundland 
Partners Including:
- Nunavut Arctic College and Research Institute

• Safer Shipping through Summer Sea Ice: New Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Based Tools for Monitoring and Predicting Sea Ice Conditions
Randy Scharien, University of Victoria 
Partners Including:
-Arctic Research Foundation
-Ekalukktutiak Hunters and Trappers Association
- Northern Science Training
- Polar Knowledge Canada

Irving Shipbuilding has also committed $2 million in partnership with the Nunavut Arctic College for an applied research project with a northern focus. 

The $2 million commitment was made pursuant to Irving Shipbuilding’s Value Proposition obligation under Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). Irving Shipbuilding is committed to spending 0.5% of contract revenues with the aim of creating a sustainable marine industry across Canada, amounting to approximately $12 million over the duration of the Arctic Offshore Patrol vessel contract. More here:

Aboriginal-owned Business, Innovative Solution

Provides Inventive Solution to Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships

When the Royal Canadian Navy’s new fleet of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) sail along Canada’s coastline including the High Arctic, they will incorporate technologies built right across the country. True to its name, Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy is an exciting endeavor impacting over 250 organizations that employ thousands of Canadians from across the country including the Capilano First Nations Reserve in Vancouver.

Toolcomm will provide specialized VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and High Frequency Radios. Based in North Vancouver, with facilities on the Capilano First Nations Reserve, Toolcomm is a 100% Aboriginal-owned business. Founded by entrepreneur Kevin Sebastian in 2006, a university student at the University of Victoria at the time, Toolcomm’s expertise is modifying digital technologies through advanced electrical engineering to enhance communications capabilities in remote settings. More here: