The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office is focused on building partnerships with large industry in Nova Scotia. In doing so, it seeks to identify both employment and business opportunities for local Aboriginals. The Benefits Office helps industry find the workers they need through promotion and recruitment efforts. MEBO works to train and support both individuals and Aboriginal businesses to be part of these opportunities. To date, MEBO has trained more than 1,000 individuals and helped create more than 500 jobs for local Aboriginals.

MEBO takes a collaborative and business approach to employment and business opportunities with large industry in the region. Under our SPF Training program MEBO continue to provide training for communities across Nova Scotia. This province wide training program ends March 31, 2016.

Industry will often say they want to engage Aboriginals, but don’t know how. MEBO brings a solution to the table for industry, a proven process to help them successfully engage Aboriginals and build upon their skilled workforce.

As part of this community update we have highlighted some of our recent partnerships with industry and communities, as well as some of our training programs.

  • Cherubini Metal Works- second training program
  • PowerTel, Powerline Labourers program-Wooden power polls for grounding, Maritime Link
  • Abengoa- Steel Transmission Tower Construction, Maritime Link- with Women Unlimited
  • Port Hawkesbury Paper project
  • Bear Head LNG project
  • Potlotek Route 4 Highway construction
  • Potlotek MOU with Richmond County on Toursim:
  • Wagmatcook-NSCC Trades Training Campus
  • Pre-Employment Training Pictou Landing and other communities
  • Pipe Fitting course with Union local 56
  • Membertou- Concrete forms training
  • Tourism Service Training- Eskasoni
  • Adult Learning Program Indian Brook and in Millbrook
  • Business Foundations Program
  • East Coast Metal Fabricators
  • Construction Electricians program with IBEW 1852
  • Michelin Industries- Mechanical Maintenance

MEBO also acts as a liaison between the First Nation communities and businesses, government and industry. The Economic Benefits Office puts great effort into engaging the First Nation communities to ensure they are provided with good information and timely information on new economic opportunities. This includes individuals and Aboriginal businesses. MEBO also provides guidance to Aboriginal businesses on how to engage with the industry partners.

As part of its community engagement, MEBO works closely with the Native Employment Officers (NEOs) for each of the Mi’kmaq communities. By engaging the NEOs, the Benefits Office better engages the communities. The NEOs provide input from the communities as to their priorities and needs and the NEOs make the final recommendation as to who should get into training. MEBO also works collaboratively with other Aboriginal organizations in the province that are involved in economic development and training.

Once MEBO builds a relationship with industry and understands their needs, it engages industry in all aspects of its training program, from promotion to recruitment, to design of the training program, as well as delivery of the training. Finally, the Benefits Office encourages industry to provide on the job work experience, hoping that will lead to long-term employment.

Below are some of the industry partnerships and training initiatives MEBO has undertaken during the past year.


Cherubini Metal Works Partners Hires Aboriginals

1In July 2015, Cherubini Metal Works in Dartmouth hired every Aboriginal graduate from a unique accelerated, in-house training program for metal fabricating and welding. This program was a partnership with the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office.

A total of five Aboriginals from communities across Nova Scotia and one from New Brunswick started the course. Five successfully completed the six-month course and at the in-house graduation celebration, Cherubini management offered all five full time jobs starting immediately.


Membertou Concrete Training with MEBO

2“There are approximately ten new homes built in Membertou every year and now the community is working on miles of curb and gutter and sidewalks”, said Chief Terry Paul. “Membertou has recognized a gap in skilled cement finishers in their community.” The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office has partnered with Membertou to train workers to form foundations for these homes and to pour curb and gutters, and sidewalks in this growing First Nation community.

The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, in working with Membertou, provided funding for 8 individuals both from Eskasoni and Membertou to participate in a 26-week on-the-job training program to learn the basics of concrete finishing. Some worked for Membertou Public Works and some for the Housing Department.


 Abengoa Sets Up Work Yard in Sydport

3One of the largest contracts for the Maritime Link is for the transmission lines and recently Abengoa Transmission & Infrastructure, was awarded this contract by Emera NL. In early November Abengoa began hiring and the first hires included three local Aboriginals. They will work on assembling the large steel transmission towers as Powerline Labourers and Abengoa expects to hire many more as work ramps up.

Abengoa has established a work yard in Sydport to begin assembling the large steel transmission towers. This $200 million contract will see Abengo building 400 km of overhead transmission lines in Cape Breton and Newfoundland, all part of the Maritime Link.
Abengoa and the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO) have built a strong working relationship over the past year. MEBO recruited local Aboriginals to take a 15 week Powerline Labourer Training program at Marconi Campus, NSCC. “Now we are hiring these graduates,” said Ignacio Saralegui, Project Manager with Abengoa. One of the local Aboriginals hired by Abengoa is Jocelyn Marshall from Potlotek First Nation and she is shown working on the assembly of the steel towers at the Sydport yard.


DEFSEC Atlantic 2015:

4In September 2015, local Aboriginal organizations presented to the major industry players in the defense and aerospace sector at the Defense Industry conference in Halifax at the Cunard Centre. The conference and trade show is called DEFSEC Atlantic and is a major networking opportunity for the Aerospace, Defense and Security Industries – the second largest of its kind in Canada.

The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office and the New Brunswick Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) made a presentation and the message they brought was, “We can help Industry Succeed!” They laid out a proven process for large industry to successfully engage Aboriginals. Representatives from Ulnooweg Development and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI also attending the presentation.

Chris MacDonald, right, a VP with Irving Shipbuilding, introduced the MEBO and JEDI at the conference. Irving Shipbuilding has found their partnership with MEBO and JEDI to be important and productive and by making this introducing at the conference, they hoped to emphasize to the many contractors at the conference, that this should also be important to them.


Goat Island Trail, Eskasoni:
MEBO Supports Tourism Training Program:

5At Goat Island, along the beautiful Bras d’Or Lakes, Eskasoni First Nation takes visitors on a cultural journey into the traditional life of the Mi’kmaq. The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office provided funding for a six-week tourism training program that took place at the Goat Island Trail during the summer of 2015. There are twelve participants in the program from the five Unama’ki communities on Cape Breton Island (Waycobah, Wagmatcook, Eskasoni, Membertou, and Potlotek). Many of the participants secured employment.


Michelin Tire

6In early Sept, the Michelin Tire plant in Berwick hosted representatives of the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office and the provincial Department of Labour. They were meeting to better understand the employment needs of Michelin and look at how they can better diversify their workforce. Ross MacDonald, with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, invited MEBO officials to meet with Michelin officials to help them come up with a plan to address the needs of Michelin and ensure more Aboriginals will be working at the Michelin plant in the future.


Partner with Nova Scotia
Department of Labour and Advanced Education:

7Earlier in the year, the Nova Scotia, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, the Honourable Kelly Regan, made a visit to the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office. This was an opportunity for MEBO to brief the minister on its initiatives and for Minister Regan to outline the government’s priorities and initiatives. The province of Nova Scotia is a strong supporter of the Economic Benefits Office.



Abengoa’s Training Program for Women in Steel Tower Assembly:

8On Nov.13, 19 women celebrated the completion of a two-week Steel Tower Assembly Training Program in preparation for Abengoa’s all women assembly crew. The result of a unique partnership between Abengoa, Emera Newfoundland & Labrador (ENL), IBEW 1928, Women Unlimited and the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, this program has opened doors for 19 diverse women in a field where they are significantly underrepresented.

Alex Paul, Executive Director, MEBO said, “This is a fabulous initiative with Abengoa and Women Unlimited. MEBO is thrilled to be a partner. Many companies say they want to employ women, but Abengoa is doing it!”


PowerTel Hires Local Aboriginals

9 “This week (Nov.12) we are starting work on construction of new transmission towers as part of the Maritime Link and we have hired three local Aboriginals this week and expect to hire several more as work ramps up,” said Jamie Smith, Vice President of PowerTel. PowerTel is setting up a work yard on the Louisbourg Highway near Catalone.

PowerTel and the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office worked together on a training program and, “Now we are hiring these graduates,” said Mr. Smith. Two of the local Aboriginals hired by PowerTel are Collin Denny from Eskasoni (left) and Stephen Lafford from Potlotek First Nation. (in Photo)


Potlotek and Richmond County:

10In late April 2015, Potlotek First Nation and the Municipality of the County of Richmond signed a first-of-its-kind memorandum of understanding between both councils.

The MOU was signed at a special ceremony on Apr.28 at the municipal offices in Arichat. Warden Victor David and Chief Wilbert Marshall signed the agreement outlining the cooperation to take place on Richmond County’s proposed $6.7 million dollar tourism infrastructure project at the St. Peters’ Canal. Chief Wilbert Marshall said, “This is just another step we are taking to build mutually beneficial relationships with the communities that surround us. Chief Marshall also thanked the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office for their role helping to advance this important initiative.


MEBO Partners with Memski and East Coast Metal:

11The Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office has partnered with Memski in seeing several local Mi’kmaq now working at the East Coast Metal Fabrication Shop in Sydport. John Lewis of Eskasoni (Photo) is one of those proud workers at East Coast. MEBO provided $160,000 in funded for this initiative. Today, these welders are working on the new $18 million Membertou Sports Complex.




Aboriginal Engagement Exceeds Expectations:
Route 4, Potlotek

12Dec. 2015: An effort to ensure local Aboriginals were employed on the highway construction underway on Route 4 has far exceeded expectations. Work on the upgrade to a section of Route 4 in Cape Breton that goes through the First Nation community of Potlotek (Chapel Island) will end soon. A pilot project that involves the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Potlotek First Nation and the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO), sought to ensure at least 10% of the workforce were local Aboriginals. “Today, 13 of 39 site employees are from Potlotek First Nation, 33% of the workforce,” said Mike Jessome, project manager with Nova Construction.

“The success of this project clearly demonstrates that when we all work together, when industry works with First Nations, we all benefit,” said Wilbert Marshall, chief of Potlotek. The chief congratulated the workers and thanked his community for supporting this project. He also thanked Nova construction and the Department of Transportation for being open to working with his community. Finally, he thanked the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office for facilitating this partnership, for supporting the community and for providing the training and then employment on this project.


BC First Nation Leaders Visit Unama’ki

13Representatives of a First Nation community in the interior of British Columbia were in Unama’ki (Cape Breton) in September to learn more about how the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office operates and how they engage industry. “I first learned about Unama’ki Model at a conference I attended,” said Chief Byron Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band, “I am very interested in a model that promotes Aboriginal success and is driven by Aboriginal people.”

The visitors spent several days meeting with staff at the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office to learn more about the “Unama’ki Model” for economic development. MEBO staff also took the visitors to Eskasoni and Wagmatcook for meetings and tours. Alex Paul said he sees this as an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other. “Collaboration is a critical part of our Unama’ki Model.”


Wagmatcook Training Campus NSCC

14The new Wagmatcook Training Center, NSCC, opened in Aug 2014. Congratulations to Chief Norman Bernard and his council and team. A lot of hard work by all. This campus is impressive and needed. Chief Norman is shown outside the school with NSCC President Don Bureaux and Strait campus principal, Tom Gunn. MEBO is a member of the advisory panel for the training center.



 Waycobah Establishes Successful Security Business:

 15A few years ago, there were no Mi’kmaq working at the paper mill in Port Hawkesbury,” said Chief Rod Googoo of Waycobah First Nation. “Today there are six Aboriginals working at Port Hawkesbury Paper.

This is an example of a great partnership with industry and a real success. This means good jobs for our people,” said Chief Googoo. “We want to work with industry and we want to build upon this success.” This resulted from a unique partnership that including Port Hawkesbury Paper, the First Nations community of Waycobah, the Mi’kmaq Rights Office (KMKNO) and the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office.

One of the First Nations communities neighbouring Port Hawkesbury Paper is Waycobah. Recognizing the need and the opportunity, the community of Waycobah established a new security business, First Alliance Security. They partnered with Maritect Security, a well established and respected security business in the region. Maritect Security helped ensure this new community business had the proper certifications to win the contract at Port Hawkesbury Paper.

Waycobah First Nation approached Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office to work with Maritect to help train 12 community members for security work, especially the opportunity at Port Hawkesbury Paper. As a result of this partnership between Port Hawkesbury Paper, First Alliance Security, Maritect Security, KMKNO and the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, the community of Waycobah was able to win the security contract at Port Hawkesbury Paper. This success with Port Hawkesbury Paper has lead to further expansion of the Waycobah security company. This company now has more than 25 employees working across eastern Nova Scotia, including Port Hawkesbury Paper.


For More Information, Contact MEBO:

If you have any questions, please contact our office in Membertou. Staff will be happy to help you. For any training, the first step is to contact your community Native Employment Officer (NEO).

Visit our website,, which integrates social media to provide timely information so we can better engage community members and communicate more effectively.

So we can keep you better informed, like our Facebook page: Mi’kmaq Economic Benefits Office, and follow us on Twitter (@MikmawEBO). We regularly post new information and updates to our twitter and Facebook pages.


Contact Information:

Alex Paul, Executive Director

Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office

201 Churchill Dr., suite 201, Membertou, NS

Tel: 902-562-4700

Twitter: @MikmawEBO

 FaceBook: Mi’kmaq Economic Benefits Office