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Darlington Refurb Project News

Indigenous jobs program helps millwright start nuclear career

With the provincial demand for skilled tradespeople on the rise, OPG is taking a proactive approach to help fill the gap.

The Indigenous Opportunities in Nuclear (ION) program recruits and places skilled members from Indigenous communities in jobs within the fast-growing nuclear industry.

One of those recruits is Ben Shaughnessy, a millwright apprentice from Curve Lake, Ont. He was recently contracted by OPG to work on the Darlington Refurbishment project.

Ben Shaughnessy, millwright apprentice from Curve Lake, ON.
Ben Shaughnessy, millwright apprentice from Curve Lake, Ont.

​“I’d like to build a career in nuclear,” said Shaughnessy. “My dad got an email about the program from his union hall. He told me it’s a good time to be in the industry, so I made sure to apply.”

By 2021, when OPG is half-way through the Darlington Refurbishment project, the demand for tradespeople like Shaughnessy will reach its peak. OPG established ION, among other capacity-building initiatives, to help ensure the project and the wider nuclear industry is supported by a steady stream of highly qualified workers.

“The ION application process is in-depth. It includes security clearance and additional training in nuclear professionalism,” said Kenn Ross, OPG Indigenous Relations Advisor.

“We’re working with Kagita Mikam, an Aboriginal Employment and Training agency, to select the most qualified candidates and place them in positions across nuclear, including OPG, union halls and vendor partner organizations,” Ross added.

Shaughnessy moved to Peterborough from Curve Lake at the age of 17 with his parents and two younger brothers. He counts his father, an electrician and member of Curve Lake First Nation, as the biggest influence in his decision to work in trades.

“Deciding to work in nuclear was a big step for me,” said Shaughnessy. “There’s a lot to learn, and it was a little intimidating at first. But now, after learning about nuclear and how seriously safety is taken on site, I’m really comfortable. The plant’s a great place to work.”