Burnside, NS, Nov 20, 2017… “These Mi’kmaq workers are a great addition to our skilled workforce,” said an official with Dexter Construction, the largest heavy civil construction company in Atlantic Canada. Dexter has partnered with the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO) in an effort to have more local Indigenous people in their workforce. “This September we offered fulltime employment to two local Mi’kmaq who graduated from our Heavy Equipment Operator program,” said Brad Johnson, Director of Training for Dexter.

Troy Zahara from Membertou and Shawn Mason from Sipekne’katik (Indian Brook), are now fulltime employees of Dexter. Zahara is shown with the heavy equipment at a worksite in Burnside, Dartmouth.

Troy and Shawn were two of 20 students in a 15-week training program at the Dexter Institute Private Career College in Bedford. Training is followed by a three-month paid work term that leads to an offer of full-time employment upon graduation. Dexter’s Brad Johnson said they had more than 100 applications for the training program and could only accept 20. “We were thrilled to have local Mi’kmaq as part of this class; they really impressed us during the interview process.” Dexter Construction has some 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 and presents many job opportunities. “We want to make sure our people have the training needed to get jobs with large companies like Dexter.” Gould said this is a big step. “In recent years, we had success in helping local Mi’kmaq get hired on different highway construction projects, as labourers, and in traffic control. Getting our people into the Dexter Institute, their registered Private Career College, presents greater opportunity and allows them to become fulltime, permanent 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.”

Alex Paul, Executive Director of the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, said, “Dexter has been a great partner and opened the door for our people. We are seeing results, seeing jobs—good jobs, and even more opportunity in the future. This is positive for everyone.”

Brad Johnson, said, “Troy and Shawn are strong additions to the Dexter workforce. We look forward to working with MEBO to hopefully have many additional Mi’kmaq enter our training program in the years to come.” Those interesting should contact the Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office in Membertou, attention pelonikdennis@mebons.ca by Nov.30.