Three Aboriginal training and employment organizations igned a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on November 1, 2013 to create the Coastal Aboriginal Shipbuilding Alliance (CASA).
In the MOU, witnessed by Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of Seaspan ULC (Seaspan), the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS), Coast Salish Employment and Training Society (CSETS) and First Nations Employment Society (FNES) have agreed to jointly develop, design, deliver and evaluate quality training and employment programs and services in the shipbuilding industry for aboriginal people living in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.
“The award of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) to Seaspan creates a need for skilled workers in the marine industry,” said John Webster, president and CEO of ACCESS. “ACCESS is proud to be partnering with FNES and CSETS under the Coastal Aboriginal Shipbuilding Alliance to provide aboriginal people with the means to gain the skills necessary to be part of this exciting opportunity.”
The MOU was signed at a ceremony at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre in North Vancouver. The guests, represented by a wide range of partners from Aboriginal organizations, Seaspan, educational institutions, unions and municipal, provincial and federal government representatives, were welcomed by Chief Gibby Jacob of the Squamish Nation and elder Ernie George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and treated to a performance by the Squamish Youth Group.
“This is a long-term partnership,” said Marlene Rice, executive director of CSETS. “We are joining forces to provide funding for training and assist our clients in finding employment in the shipbuilding and marine industries.”
Under the MOU, ACCESS, CSETS and FNES will now work together to ensure aboriginal peoples are poised to meet the challenges and opportunities created by the shipbuilding industry. In turn, this initiative will better equip industry to meet the greatly increased demand created by the federal shipbuilding contracts.
“We are honoured to sign this agreement with our ACCESS and CSETS colleagues,” said Chief Garry Feschuk of the Sechelt First Nation, and president of FNES. “Our goal is to create career opportunities for aboriginal people. Together we can ensure a brighter future as a result of our joint training and employment programs for the shipbuilding industry.”
“[The] signing ceremony marks yet another crucial milestone in the future of the NSPS,” said Jonathan Whitworth. “We are thrilled to partner with ACCESS, CSETS, and FNES, and look forward to working with CASA to develop and grow a world-class shipbuilding and ship repair centre of excellence on the west coast.”