|Trade Winds Partnership Update

Trade Winds Partnership Update

Trade Winds to Success provides pre-apprenticeship training so that more Indigenous people can pursue careers in the building trades. Trade Winds, the Building Trades of Alberta, and its affiliated locals have worked together for more than a decade delivering programs in Edmonton and Calgary and, more recently, Lethbridge. In 2015, Trade Winds started a new innovative outreach program to offer similar opportunities to Indigenous people in rural Alberta. This year, Trade Winds has applied to the federal government for Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) funding to support its work. UTIP is itself a new program intended to increase the number of women, youth, Indigenous people, and immigrants in the trades. The need is there. A shortfall of trades workers is on the horizon. Indigenous people are under-represented in the trades. And there are lots of willing workers. Trade Winds and its partners hope to address that need.

2018 Participants – Carpenters, Industrial Mechanics, Insulators

Trade Winds to Success Partnership

The partnership between Alberta’s building trade unions and Trade Winds to Success began years before it was formalized in 2005. The goal has always been to bring Indigenous people into the building trades. Much of the credit goes to the building trade unions. According to Kathleen Thompson, the Interim Executive Director of Trade Winds,

“The trade union vision started this whole program before truth and reconciliation was even an idea. The participating trade unions have never turned away a student. If we ask for a program, they put one together. In recent years, three unions deserve particular credit: the pipe trades, electricians, and carpenters; they always help out.”

Trade Winds to Success offers pre-apprenticeship preparation training to qualified Indigenous clients. It offers these programs in partnership with the BTA’s red seal construction trade unions, unionized employers, Oteenow Employment & Training Society , Community Futures Treaty 7Rupertsland Institute, and federal and provincial agencies.

Role of BTA and Affiliated Locals

The participating BTA locals offer

  • use of their state-of-the-art training facilities
  • skills training by red seal journey-persons with master instructors training
  • cutting-edge industry practices.

Thompson offers particular credit to the BTA locals for their role in helping to fund the program:“Individual union training trust funds, which are funded entirely by union members, have built and supported this program from the beginning.”

Thanks to participating building trades unions, Trade Winds clients can participate in shop training in the following trades: Boilermaker, Carpenter, Construction Craft Labourer, Electrician, Insulator, Ironworker, Industrial Mechanic (Millwright), Plumber, Steamfitter-Pipefitter, and Welder.

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Trade Winds to Success Achievements


The Trade Winds urban program focuses on First Nation, Metis, and Inuit people aged 18 years and over in the Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge urban areas. Clients go through a 2-week orientation and 4-week academic preparation program before challenging the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) Entrance Exam. As Trade Winds explains, their clients prove themselves ready, willing, and able to start careers in the trades.


Shop training is where the participating BTA locals really come into the picture. Depending on the trade, the participating BTA locals offer 2 to 10 weeks of union shop training in their world-class training facilities with red seal journey-persons as instructors. Much of the funding for this training comes not from government but directly from the union members themselves. The result? Graduates have the knowledge, hands-on training, and safety ticket and equipment training they need for the next step in their careers in the building trades.


Trade Winds to Success is achieving its goals:

  • 1,282 clients have completed pre-apprenticeship academic preparation.
  • 1,042 clients have completed red seal pre-apprentice union trades shop training.
  • Others have gone on to work in local communities or with local businesses.

Trade Winds anticipates upwards of 280 new graduates in 2018. But it knows it can do more.


This ambitious outreach program aims to deliver pre-apprentice programming to all First Nation & Metis Settlement communities in the province of Alberta. Part of the initiative includes a 3-day program for each trade to help Indigenous clients understand how to use the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) system. Many Indigenous communities lack access to and familiarity with computer technologies. The 3-day program is unique in Canada and wouldn’t have been possible without Alberta’s building trade unions, which helped to develop the program for each trade.

Clients go on to build small homes in their communities, work for local employers, or start apprenticeship training with BTA locals.

Shop training experience at the Alberta Pipe Trades College

Take Action to Support Trade Winds

UTIP funding can enable Trade Winds to provide training with instruction from red seal journey-persons from participating BTA local unions in rural Alberta. As Thompson explains, “Trade Winds wants the consistent high-level skills training, world-class training facilities, state-of-the-art industry practices, and standards of excellence that the building trade unions provide. They can’t get that training anywhere else.” And it is particularly important to the success of the Community Workforce Development Program.

You can help. To support Trade Winds:

  1. Share this Facebook post on your favourite social media. Tweet about the project. Follow BTA on Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Let Trade Winds to Success know you support its work.
  3. Let the trade union locals shown below know you support their work with Trade Winds to Success.
  4. Contact your local MLA or MP.

Use your street address to find contact information for your MLA.

Use your postal code to find your MP.


“I support the pre-apprenticeship training programs for Indigenous people offered by Trade Winds and its partners. The program provides Indigenous people with career opportunities that are otherwise unavailable. I support provincial and federal government funding for Trade Winds to Success.”

Indigenous Partners

By |September 6th, 2018|Categories: Jobs|Tags: |0 Comments

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