Today, First Nations communities and organizations, the mineral exploration and mining industry and educational and government partners announced the formation of a minerals and mining specific Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership (ASEP) to run a three-year program providing skills training in the northwest and central interior regions of British Columbia. The program will be administered by the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association in conjunction with fifteen partners, six of which have made employment commitments of 148 jobs for Aboriginal participants.

The British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association and its partners will provide training-to-employment plans that cover a broad range of opportunities including: academic upgrading, job specific training and apprenticeships, retention counselling and other on the job support.

Laureen Whyte, Chair of the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association, declared: "The partners are committed to ensuring that Aboriginal people fully share in economic opportunities created by the mineral exploration and mining industry. Through this partnership, Aboriginal people in British Columbia will have access to skills training to participate in the exploration and mining industry, and industry will benefit from accessing a quality pool of workers,"

The mining specific Aboriginal skills and employment partnership is the result of collaborations between fifteen partners, who will be sharing the cost of investment funding. The 30-month program will cost a total of $27.1 million dollars, with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada contributing $4.4 million dollars to the program and private contributions from Industry and Associations accounting for $22.7 million dollars.

"This initiative helps provide the skills needed for Aboriginal people to fully participate in the mineral exploration and mining sectors and to look forward to the benefits of well-paying jobs and a better future," says Eddy Jules, Vice Chair of the British Columbia Aboriginal Mine Training Association and Councilor of the Skeetchestn Indian Band. "Our vision is that, with specialized training and experience, companies will benefit from the professional and traditional knowledge that can be drawn from the surrounding communities where they operate. We will be able to work together with full participation of our people," says Jules.

ASEP is a labour market program that provides Aboriginal people with the skills development and work experience they need to participate in large-scale industrial sectors including forestry, mining, and gas, construction and hydro electric development. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada provides federal funding to the partnerships.

The BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association has also released a Fact Sheet containing more detailed information on the program