The employment program has an impact on Cowessess – MBC Radio

by Ryan Kiedrowski

Reporter of the Local Journalism Initiative

A highly successful pre-employment program geared towards the mining industry is making big waves in a local first. The Canadian Institute of Mines awarded the inaugural CIM Indigenous Partnership Award to Cowessess First Nation and Morris Interactive.

The program from Morris InteractiveDigital Transformation in Potash Mining lasts eight weeks, giving participants what they need to safely enter the potash industry.

I’m trying to be humble about it, but it’s quite an honor to be selected as the first prize in this field, said Barry Sparvier, Director of Employment at Cowessess First Nation. We were honored to be a part of Morris Interactives pilot project to begin with, and then the success it had with ourselves and others was simply incredible! I went to the awards presentation in Vancouver on Monday night, and it really made me realize what we’ve done; what we participated in. Its advancement within the reconciliation of our nation and partnerships with institutes that can help our people. This is what has been proven to me.

The DTiPM program was developed as a pilot at Cowessess FN in 2022 in partnership with Morris Interactive and The Mosaic Company. Since then, two of the five DTiPM-led groups have been to Cowessess FN and Sparvier noted that of the 18 participants in total, 15 are actively working in the potash industry. The next intake at Cowessess FN will start at the end of August with places for 12 people.

The industry is changing, evolving, Sparvier told the World-Spectator. With this program, I think it makes these students ready for the evolution of the industry as well.

A big draw for the program is more than just getting a job, it sets the stage for a lucrative career with training close to home that could mean getting a job in Esterhazy or Rocanville.

We have eight weeks of classroom environments and we have different industry speakers come in, Sparvier explained, noting that alumni of the program and current employees in the potash industry include some of the guests. In fact, Sparvier noted that his sound engineer with Mosaic for 12 years is one of those speakers.

He is very excited about his work. He really gets the excitement out of the students, Sparvier continued. The last two weeks have actually been done underground at Mosaic in various areas. Just to give them a taste and show them what it’s going to be like.

The DTiPM program boasts an 83 percent success rate in connecting graduates with employment or further education, and the future looks bright thanks to a million dollar investment from Mosaiccementing for another five years.

(PHOTO -From left: Rob Knibbs, Barry Sparvier, Benjamin Williamson, Mathew Cey and a representative from CIM presenting the awards at the 2024 CIM Connect Awards Gala recognizing the Cowesses employment program. Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter . )

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