Indigenous millwright apprentice honing his craft with help of OPG mentors
At a glance
- Millwright apprentice at OPG’s North Bay Work Centre advancing his career with mentorship and support.
- More than 100 Indigenous candidates have found employment through OPG’s Indigenous Opportunities Network (ION).
- ION is part of OPG’s broader effort to advance Reconciliation and economic growth through its Reconciliation Action Plan.
Across OPG’s operations, Indigenous skilled trades are getting hands-on experience to learn their craft and enrich their careers.
Since 2018, more than 100 Indigenous candidates have found employment at the company and across the energy sector through OPG’s Indigenous Opportunities Network (ION) program.
One of those candidates is Lawrence Wesley, a millwright apprentice who makes his home in Garden Village, part of the Nipissing First Nation Territory.
He is currently learning from mentors at OPG’s North Bay Work Centre, which supports the company’s hydroelectric operations in the northeast.
For Lawrence, his interest in the trades led him to apply and successfully complete the six-week Introduction to Millwrighting program, a training course created by the Millwright Regional Council.
Shortly after, in December 2022, he joined the work centre through ION and has been bringing his calm demeanor, wit, and an eagerness to learn every day.
Helping him on his path through the initial steps of the millwrighting trade has been OPG’s Nick Fletcher, a Mechanical Union Trades Supervisor.
During his mentoring process, Lawrence has been challenged to safely perform several fundamental tasks, including welding fundamentals, machining, precision measuring, and minor equipment repairs.
Highly trained millwrights install, maintain, diagnose, and repair various industrial and mechanical equipment – from pumps and conveyors to steam turbines.
It is a trade currently in high demand, particularly with the ongoing Darlington Refurbishment and other projects underway across the energy industry.
To help break down some social differences and barriers, Lawrence and the work centre crew have forged a knowledge sharing agreement, with the mentors and the apprentice striving to teach each other something new every day.
Under this philosophy, Lawrence has taught the crew many Cree words that can apply to the trade and everyday life.
“We have taken great strides as a team to mentor and welcome Lawrence into our safe space,” said Sheldon Masson, Senior Manager, Maintenance Production with OPG. “His successes are a direct result of the commitment and caliber of our staff who have dedicated their time to make Lawrence’s experience a lasting one.”
This growing relationship, guided by mentorship and support, reflects the broader effort underway across OPG to advance Reconciliation and fulfill the goals outlined in the company’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
These goals include increasing representation of Indigenous employees and growing the economic impact for Indigenous communities and businesses to $1 billion over 10 years.