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First Nations powerline technicians program up for national award

Supercom Industries' East-West Tie training program up for economic development award
Supercom Powerline program 2
(Supercom Industries photo)

A First Nation-driven training and employment program has been selected as a finalist for a national economic development award.

Supercom Industries LP has been selected by the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers (Cando) as one of two finalists in the Indigenous Private Sector Business category.

Cando is an organization which promotes Indigenous economic development across Canada.

The awards will be presented at the 26th annual Cando National Conference in Gatineau, Que., Oct. 30.

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Established in 2016, Supercom consists of six First Nations situated around the shore of Lake Superior – Red Rock Indian Band, Fort William First Nation, Pays Plat First Nation, Michipicoten First Nation, Pic Mobert First Nation and Biigtigong Nishnaabeg – which teamed up to establish a business partnership in preparation for the proposed East-West Tie, a massive powerline project between Thunder Bay and Wawa.

Construction is scheduled to begin in late October and continue for the next two and a half years.

The program involves training and finding employment for powerline technician students.

Supercom undertook a $9.3-million employment and training plan in 2017 to assist those looking to improve their skills in order to eventually work on the project.

More than 300 individuals, many of them Indigenous, took part.

“It’s obviously good to be recognized,” said Supercom chair Matt Dupuis, the Red Rock Indian Band chief, in a nominee profile written on the Cando website. “It’s nice to see that Supercom has grown.”

Dupuis hopes other First Nations decide to work with neighbouring communities to form their own business partnerships.

“Sometimes First Nations end up setting things up on their own,” he said. “We’re hoping it promotes the idea of working together with others.”