First off-reserve project for First Nations company slated to work at Windmill’s Zibi
Kitigan Zibi, October 8, 2015 – Kitigan Zibi’s only general contracting company, Decontie Construction, has been awarded a $4.5 million contract by Hydro-Québec to dismantle the abandoned Corbeau Hydroelectric Station adjacent to the reserve, which is located near Maniwaki, Quebec.
The project, which is the company’s first off-reserve project, will create 20 new jobs for Algonquin Anishinabeg tradespeople. Positions include carpenters, labourers, truck drivers, shovel operators and security personnel.
“Kitigan Zibi, like many reserves, has a very high unemployment rate,” said Andrew Decontie, President and founder of Decontie Construction. “We’re very proud to be able to bring new opportunities and work to our community.”
Because of existing systemic barriers, on-reserve Algonquins and other First Nations experience difficulties in obtaining trade certifications and securing work off-reserve despite having the necessary schooling and work experience. Until now, Algonquin tradespeople from the community have been limited to working on construction projects within Kitigan Zibi.
Given the proximity of this project to the reserve, and the fact that the land on which the hydro station sits is in the process of being retroceded to the community of Kitigan Zibi, a special administrative zone was created by la Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ) to enable Algonquin Anishinabe workers to be employed on this project.
“This is an unprecedented opportunity for our company to create real jobs outside the reserve,” said Andrew Decontie. “With this contract and work at the Zibi redevelopment project about to get underway, we’re building momentum for our People. It’s a concrete example of self-determination in keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The Corbeau demolition project is expected to begin immediately and to continue until the spring. Unique to this project, Decontie Construction is the lead contractor and will be engaging two non-First Nation companies – Milestone Environmental Contracting and DemoPLUS – to conduct specialty services such as the decontamination work and asbestos and lead removal.
The three companies will also work together on the Zibi redevelopment project about to start in Ottawa and Gatineau, which will follow the same model of recruiting, hiring, training and certifying an Algonquin workforce. A similar special administrative zone that will be used at Corbeau is currently in discussion with the CCQ.
Ottawa-based Windmill Developments announced this summer it has partnered with Decontie Construction on the Zibi project. In addition to remediation and construction work on this 15-year, $1.2 billion project, Decontie Construction will have the specific mandate of assisting interested Algonquin workers in obtaining the necessary training and certification to ensure they meet all of the required labour regulations and standards to be able to work off reserve.
“Together, we’re working on initiatives that will bring tangible and lasting benefits to present and future generations of Algonquin Anishinabe,” said Jeff Westeinde, Chairman of Windmill Developments and a director at Milestone Environmental Contracting. “It’s more than the creation of jobs — which in itself is a big deal. It’s about creating a sustainable model of employment and self-determination that other companies can emulate. Industry needs a rethink. We want to prove that it’s advantageous to collaborate with the Algonquin community.”
About Decontie Construction Inc.
Decontie Construction Inc. is licensed as a General Contractor (Level 1.3) under the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, allowing the company to construct any type of development, residential or commercial, on or off-reserve. Its founder Andrew Decontie, a First Nation Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, has worked in the construction sector for over 20 years. His passion for the construction industry and the betterment of his People originates from a legacy of family and community members who were forced to leave Canada in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to find work throughout the United States.
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