Established August 31, 2004, the Niskamoon Corporation was created to assemble all agreements between Hydro Quebec and the Cree under one administrative roof. Prior to 2004, various companies handled the agreements from EMS Corp to Abitibi.
“This created confusion in the community, people didn’t know what organization to go to for hydro funding,” explained Niskamoon’s Kathy Shecapio, Regional Coordinator of Training and Employment.
In the 17 months that have followed Niskamoon’s inception, various funding agreements have been reached, including a Hiring Initiative executed with the Cree School Board for more than $3.5 million, according to their 2004-2005 annual report.
Niskamoon’s annual report stipulates that the objective of the Hiring Initiatives Program is “to provide 150 qualified Crees for the targeted Hydro-Quebec trades and technical permanent positions.” The deadline for these 150 new permanent positions is March 31, 2017.
Niskamoon Corporation, Cree School Board and Hydro-Quebec are working in partnership to provide training that leads to employment on the James Bay Territory with Hydro-Quebec.
Through Niskamoon, Crees have been sent to various educational institutions in the Quebec and Ontario. “You have 10 in the telecommunications program, and then you have seven in the electromechanical program and five in the industrial mechanics. The ones in the vocational programs are graduating this summer,” noted Shecapio.
Four fields of study are open to Cree students under the Niskamoon Corporation for the purposes of permanent employment at Hydro Quebec: Apparatus Electrician, a 2-year program, Apparatus Mechanic, a 2-year program, Automation Electronics Technician, a 3.5-year program and Telecommunications technician, a 3.5-year program.
In the past, future telecommunications technicians were enrolled in Electronics Technology in the Telecommunications / Computers course of study at Heritage College in Gatineau, Quebec. Their role is going to be “to install, inspect and repair equipment, including phone systems, videoconferencing equipment, computer equipment, automated functions and cellular phone sites,” according to the report.
Apparatus Electricians will be enrolled in the Automated Systems Electro Mechanics courses that are offered at the Centre Polymetier in Rouyn Noranda through the Commission scolaire Rouyn-Noranda.
“We had our first group of graduates last year from the electromechanical program, there were 10 of them. Nine out of the 10 are currently working at Hydro Quebec right now,” says Shecapio.
Students entering this program must also have a broad knowledge of French to participate in this program. The French requirement stands as well for students looking to become Apparatus Mechanics.
Future apparatus mechanics follow the Industrial Construction and Maintenance Mechanics program that is taught out of the Centre de formation professionnelle de la Jamésie (James Bay School Board) in Chibougamau. Once graduated, these students will be able to oversee the use of vital apparatuses used in the production of hydroelectricity.
Future Automation Electronics Technicians participate in their course of study, Industrial Electronics in Instrumentation and Automation at the CEGEP de L’ Abitibi-Témiscamingue in Rouyn Noranda. Those who graduate from this program will be able to conduct maintenance activities for Hydro.
“All of the programs that we offer except for the heritage degree are elsewhere,” said Shecapio. In order to find recruits for these programs, Shecapio said, “Once a year we do a huge recruitment campaign from the communities. We’ve also done Val D’Or, Gatineau and Montreal.”
You can visit your local Niskamoon Community Coordinator for more information on the training programs.