Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic February 08, 2018 - 11:30 am

Transport Canada funds ocean career training for Inuit

Lifeboat simulator, training vessel, satellite campus coming for Nunavut marine school

Randy Pittman says new Transport Canada funding for the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium means more northerners can participate in Nunavut’s growing marine sector. (FILE PHOTO)
Randy Pittman says new Transport Canada funding for the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium means more northerners can participate in Nunavut’s growing marine sector. (FILE PHOTO)

Nunavummiut looking for seafaring careers will soon be able to get all of their training in Nunavut, thanks to a new wave of funding through Transport Canada.

Over the next three years, $12.6 million from the federal government’s $1.5 billon Oceans Protection Plan will go towards the expansion of the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium.

The money will see a lifeboat simulator installed in a newly renovated section of the school’s Iqaluit campus, as well as on-the-water training made possible through fast new rescue craft and a 28-foot multi-purpose training vessel.

“Nobody from Nunavut will have to travel outside of Nunavut to do any training in the marine industry,” said Randy Pittman, an instructor and director at the marine school. 

Pittman said that without the federal funding, the school would not be able to finance capital investments like these training vessels, which allow new Nunavut mariners to complete their training at home in the North.

“It will be a huge cost savings,” said the marine school’s executive director, Elisabeth Cayen. She said that students will be able to complete their courses faster too, given that they won’t have to travel out of the territory.

The funding also means that more marine training courses and opportunities will be available for Inuit in Nunavik, Cayen said.

Right now, many of the school’s Nunavik courses take place in Salluit, where there is a full-sized swimming pool that can be used for training.

For Nunavummiut living in the west, training might become more accessible when the marine school opens its satellite campus in Hay River in the Northwest Territories this spring, through a partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories.

“The Mackenzie River truly is our marine highway to the Arctic Ocean,” Wally Schumann, the N.W.T.‘s minister of infrastructure, said in a Feb. 2 release. “Providing marine training in the North for northerners creates jobs and economic opportunities, improves the security, safety and resiliency of our marine operations and supports the potential of the North to better contribute to the Canadian economy.”

The new two-classroom school will open at what was previously an office of the defunct shipping company, Northern Transportation Co. Ltd. Classes are set to begin in April.

The Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium opened officially in 2004, but has seen significant expansion in recent years.

Last year, the school offered around 23 courses, and has a more than a 90 per cent completion rate within training programs, Cayen said.

Some of that training leads students into careers in ocean sciences and research, guiding and interpreter positions for ecotourism companies, and crew jobs with the Canadian Coast Guard.

“We don’t just train for the fishery, we train for every facet of the marine industry,” Cayen said. 

The school expects to train more than 150 Northerners under the new funding arrangement, providing needed skills for an expanding marine industry in the Canadian Arctic, said the chair of Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium, Jeff Maurice. 

“This funding reflects our government’s commitment to create a well-trained northern marine labour force reflective of Canada’s diverse population, strengthen the safety of Canada’s marine transportation system and protect our coasts for future generations,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a Feb. 2 release announcing the funding and partnerships.

This spring, staff from the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium will head to Gjoa Haven to train community members who work as guardians of the Franklin wrecks program run through Parks Canada.

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