Picking up the tools for success

Aboriginal women seek opportunity, stability in the trades

Robin Gauthier waited to go back to school until her son was older. And for the past two years, she and 12-year-old Ethan sat side-by-side in the evenings, doing their homework together.

SIIT student scholarship
Robin Gauthier, a SIIT graduate and Enbridge Aboriginal Women in Trades Scholarship recipient.

Robin, 34, is a single mom who enrolled in the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies’ (SIIT) process operator technician program – and one of eight top-performing students who earned an Enbridge Aboriginal Women in Trades Scholarship during the 2014-15 school year.

Now, with diploma in hand, Robin is looking to launch her career in the oil and gas industry.

“I was always working paycheque to paycheque, and I finally had enough of it,” says Robin, who was inspired to pursue the program by her brothers who work in a similar field. “Wherever I can get a job, I’ll go.”

The process operator technician program, taught at SIIT’s Meadow Lake campus, graduated its first class in 2004 – and boasts a 98-per-cent employment success rate, with graduates working in oil and gas, uranium, mining process, potash, and bigger facilities like hospitals or food processing plants. This year, 17 students, including Robin, completed the two-year program.

Enbridge provides more than $185,000 per year in financial awards to Aboriginal post-secondary students across Canada, in communities near our projects and operations.

For three years, we’ve awarded eight $2,500 Enbridge Aboriginal Women in Trades Scholarships per year at SIIT – and during the 2014-15 scholastic year, all eight recipients were from the same program at SIIT’s Meadow Lake campus.

“Absolutely amazing,” says Fran Rogers, an SIIT process operator technician program instructor at Meadow Lake.

“All of these Enbridge awards were given to women in our program, who are, for the most part, single parents,” adds Rogers, noting that one recipient has six children to care for, and didn’t qualify for any outside funding. “They are here full time at the school; they don’t have the opportunity to have a job.”

Enbridge’s proposed $7.5 billion Line 3 Replacement Program, along our Mainline corridor from Hardisty, Alta., to Superior, Wis., is the largest project in our history.

The Canadian portion of the Line 3 Replacement Program would provide economic opportunity for nearby communities like Meadow Lake. If approved, the project would see Enbridge invest about $4.9 billion and create more than 24,000 jobs in Canada, including 9,200 in Saskatchewan – providing employment opportunities for SIIT graduates like Robin.

“Through our projects, we try to give back,” says Jamie Honda-McNeil, a senior manager of Aboriginal Relations at Enbridge. “We have a focus in supporting capacity development in education in the communities in which we live and work . . . and one of the groups we support is Aboriginal students.”