Mine Training Society: Creating Diverse Opportunities for Students in the Northwest Territories of Canada

The Mine Training Society (MTS) is a unique partnership between Canada’s Aboriginal governments, public government, and the diamond industry.  MTS helps students pursue degrees in undergraduate education to further advance and equip students and individuals in the North.  MTS provides career counseling, hands-on mentoring, and job coaching to each of the students involved in their program.

Because of their commitment to more than education, MTS evaluates, trains, and places students in mining and mining-related jobs—facilitating over 5% of the labour force today.

Nancy Orem Lyman, Executive Director of Diamonds Do Good, with members of the Mine Training Society during the announcement of scholar recipients in 2019.

The diamond industry is one of the main economic drivers in the North as thousands of people are employed at mines and many social-economic benefits have arisen due to this industry.

In 2019, Diamonds Do Good committed to supporting five individuals with scholarships through MTS.  Of those five students, the career and education paths differed from social work and education to mining and environmental science. Though differing in education and career goals, all five of the students understood and appreciated the natural diamond industry in the North and desire to use their career to give back to the communities and people they love.  Featured below are stories from three of our scholarship recipients.

Lindsey Bodnar-McLeod and the Pursuit of Education

Growing up in the Northwest Territories, Lindsey Bodnar-McLeod was well aware of how crucial the natural diamond mining has on her community.  

While pushing for education is often seen as the norm, Lindsey felt that she had no true guidance in her life.  She spent her high school days skipping class and not turning in assignments.  Lindsey realizes now that a mentor would have made all the difference for her, and she desires to be the difference for other young students in the north.

After Lindsey went back to complete her high school education, she knew that she wanted to pursue a post-secondary degree in education to be a high school teacher and pour into the kids in the North.  

“A teacher in grade nine would have made all the difference for me,” Lindsey said.  “I wish I had a teacher or mentor to help me understand the importance of education and the importance of working hard.”

Lindsey’s own struggles have inspired her to be the teacher and mentor that she needed growing up in the Northwest territories.

 

Sharwyn MacPherson and Dedication to the Diamond Industry

Growing up, Sharwyn MacPherson’s family always spoke of the importance of diamonds and how crucial they are to the economy of the North. 

It wasn’t until the summer Sharwyn spent working a job in the warehouse of Dominion Diamonds that he truly learned the importance for himself.  What started as a temporary gig turned into a full-time position for Sharwyn.

Because of the scholarships at the Mine Training Society, Sharwyn was able to study instrumentation and automation in the mining industry.  He has continued to learn how to advance the mining field, while working in the mines himself.

Since the diamond industry help kick-start his career, Sharwyn has an increased gratitude towards the North and the diamond industry.

As he continues to gain experience in automation and instrumentation, Sharwyn hopes that all he has learned will help him achieve his goals of starting a business to help the people of the Northwest territories.

Trisa Ngo and the Passion for the Environment

Trisa Ngo grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories with a population of about 20,000 people. Trisa’s love and gratitude for the North inspired her to graduate from Dalhousie University with a degree in Environmental Science.

During her undergraduate years, Trisa worked at the Ekati diamond mine as an environmental student where she conducted hydrology work, wildlife monitoring, and water sampling—all activities that are necessary and crucial in order to allow the mine to continue operations and to preserve the environment.  

“The environmental compliance and protection is taken very seriously in order to respect the natural environment and the Indigenous people of the land,” Trisa said.

  In the fall, Trisa will start her Masters in Resource, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. 

Trisa’s desire is to bring new knowledge and research skills back to her home to further contribute to the current state of knowledge and enable more environmental conservation to proceed.  

“Overall, diamonds have played a significant role in my life by shaping my career and by significantly contributing to the socio-economic state of the Northwest Territories,” Trisa said.

In the fall of 2020, Diamonds Do Good plans to support five more students in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

After this article, how has your opinion on the diamond industry changed?