Johnny Mac’s experienced in training First Nations
Johnny Mac’s Training Centre has previously partnered with First Nations in training community members in heavy equipment, including Beatrice Childforever of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in 2010.
Jim McArthur of Johnny Mac’s Training Centre said when he started the company in 1970, it initially focused on forestry equipment until a man from Wabigoon Lake introduced him to the crawler loader.
“He taught me how to operate it and that’s what led me into the business,” McArthur said.
Johnny Mac’s Training Centre is a Dryden-based company that provides hands-on education in truck driving and heavy equipment operations. Recognized by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU), Johnny Mac’s trains individuals who begin the program with not even a high school diploma.
“When students leave, they are certified in First Aid, WHMIS, TDGA, knowledge on operating and maintaining five pieces of equipment and the safety courses required to work in today’s world,” McArthur said. He added that there are no written exams.
“We take on all walks of life, and we are not looking for rocket scientists,” he added.
The training centre has partnered with several First Nations in its years of operation. In the past, McArthur said the trainees would come from the northern communities to train for months at a time, leading to reports of homesickness.
But now, trainers and equipment can actually be brought to the community.
“We actually go up north and don’t bring them into our society to train,” McArthur said.
The training centre has previously trained students in Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, Pikangikum, Slate Falls, Eagle Lake, Mishkeegogamang, Wabigoon Lake, and most recently, Bearskin Lake.
McArthur believes there are a lot of skilled people in northern communities with unrealized potential.
“I know people up north are very good with their hands,” he said. “They just need that push and they can be very good skilled workers.”
McArthur said there will be plenty of opportunities for heavy equipment operators and truck drivers in the future in the areas of forestry and mining. He said it is difficult to track down past graduates because they are out working as far away as Los Angeles.
“We have made it our goal to pick up, dust off, and re-educate anyone interested in forestry, construction, or truck driving and give them the chance at the life and career they deserve in today’s booming industries,” McArthur said.
Information on Johnny Mac’s Training Centre can be found at johnnymacs.ca.
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