Today, Dylan Bernard from Wagmatcook First Nation graduated from our Heavy Equipment Operator program,” said Brad Johnson, Director of the Dexter Institute Private Career College in Bedford. Dylan also has an offer of full-time employment with Dexter Construction, Atlantic Canada’s largest heavy civil construction company. Dexter has partnered with the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO) in an effort to have more local Indigenous people in their workforce. “Last year we had two highly qualified Mi’kmaq graduates from the Dexter Institute, and they became full time employees of Dexter after graduation. We hope to continue down this path.”

Dylan was part of a seven-month training program at the Dexter Institute Private Career College in Bedford that includes a three-month paid work term leading to an offer of full-time employment for all graduates. Dexter’s Brad Johnson said they had more than 100 applications for the training program last year and could only accept 20, based on scored interviews. “We were thrilled to have this partnership with the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office to help us recruit more Indigenous workers. Dexter Construction has well over 2,000 employees and is part of the Municipal Group of Companies.”

Tyler Gould, Program Manager with MEBO, said the province of Nova Scotia spends more than $250 million a year on highway construction. He said this yearly highway construction work is a great opportunity, providing many jobs across the province. “We want to make sure our people have the training needed to get jobs with large companies like Dexter,” Gould says, adding that the Dexter Institute Private Career College programs are a big step. “In recent years, we had success in helping local Mi’kmaq get hired on different highway construction projects, both as labourers and in traffic control. Having our people accepted into the Dexter Institute presents greater opportunity and allows graduates to become full-time employees of this large construction company. It also opens the door to other jobs, including as heavy equipment operators. With experience and further in-house training, they can also move into management positions.”

“Dexter has been a great partner and opened the door for our people. “This is a company making a real long-term commitment to work with our communities. This is a great example of what engagement and an act of reconciliation looks like,” said Alex Paul, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office. “We are seeing results, seeing jobs—good jobs—and even more opportunity in the future.”

“Dylan Bernard will be another strong addition to the Dexter workforce. We look forward to working with MEBO to help attract more local Mi’kmaq to enter our Dexter Institute and eventually become valued members of the Dexter workforce.” Those interested in exploring this opportunity should contact the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office in Membertou.