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Haid Roofing: An Indigenous Apprenticeship Program Success Story

By Audrey Arcand

Mar 5, 2021

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Photo submitted by Audrey Arcand. From Left to Right – Tylen S., Paul M., Ben B.

Paul Moose became a Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) Training and Employment client in December 2017. As an Employment Counsellor, he came to see me, having heard that GDI might be able to pay for his tuition. He was applying for the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) Funding for Level 1 – Roofer Training held at the Prairie Arctic Trades and Training Center in Saskatoon. The Roofing trade consists of 4,500 trade time hours (three years) and three levels of technical training.

Shortly after the initial meeting with Paul, GDI created a partnership with his employer, Haid Roofing, as part of the SPF Indigenous Apprenticeship Program. Paul completed Level 1 Roofer training in June 2018, and the wage subsidy partnership with the employer was renewed for the following years of Paul’s apprenticeship. This month, Paul was successful in all levels of training and is now a Journeyman/Red Seal Roofer. He has 25-30 years of roofing experience, and he finally has his ticket! GDI was able to provide Paul with funding for his tuition, and the Institute has an ongoing partnership with Haid Roofing.

Back in 2016, Roofer training was only available in Alberta. This made it very difficult for Saskatchewan roofers to move up in the trade. I remember this because one of my clients, Benjamin Bigeye, met with me to discuss apprenticeship. He was currently employed at a local Saskatoon Roofing company as a Labourer and wanted to apply for their vacant roofing position. Part of my job when signing up potential apprentices with employers is to go through all the processes and determine if all parties are eligible. Unfortunately, at the time, it was determined that Benjamin’s high school marks were not sufficient to become an indentured apprentice, and we had to close out his contract. At that time, there was no IXL Training Program (a personalized online learning platform that provides K-12 education), and GDI had no funding for First Nations clients to take the Accuplacer testing to upgrade his marks.

Early in 2019, the Accuplacer testing was phased out, and the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC) implemented a new assessment type program. This came to be known as the IXL Training Program, and under the SPF project, tuition funding was now available for First Nation Clients.

Shortly after this, Benjamin contacted me again to discuss his current options for high school upgrading. He currently worked at Haid Roofing and heard from his coworkers that GDI may have new programs to assist him. Luckily, we were now able to provide him the funding and tools he needed to upgrade his high school marks through the new IXL Training Program. The IXL Training program is administered through the Dumont Technical Institute (DTI) and lets our clients know which modules to focus on, their progress, and even supplied laptops to support their completion of the program.

This year, Benjamin completed the IXL training program, and I submitted his final marks to SATCC. He has recently been approved, indentured, and received his Y1 card. He is also still employed at Haid Roofing and will continue his apprenticeship with the company.

Around the same time that Benjamin began his IXL training, his friend, Tylen Starblanket, also became one of my clients. They were both employed at Haid Roofing. Similar to Benjamin, Tylen wanted to become an apprentice roofer, but his high school marks were not sufficient. Together, the two started and completed the IXL training program within days of each other. Tylen’s indenturing application will be sent to SATCC next week, and upon acceptance, he will begin his apprenticeship journey with Haid Roofing as well.

I grew up with Roofers my entire life from brothers to uncles to cousins, etc. and I do not recall any of them ever taking training. They worked as Roofing Labourers all their lives, so it is amazing to me to see that the training is now available here. I noticed that the training for Roofing made a comeback here in Saskatchewan. The word synchronicity comes to mind when I think of how all of this came to be. The reintroduction of technical training in the Province, the introduction of the IXL program, the Indigenous Apprenticeship program at GDI, three incredibly determined men, and a very accommodating employer is paving the way for Indigenous Roofers in Saskatchewan. It’s about time!

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