The federal government will inject $2.4 million into a Yellowknives Dene-run program to provide skills training to local Indigenous people.

Dechı̨ ta Nàowo, a program to get people ready for work through skills from trades and construction through to environmental monitoring, is operated by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation from Ndilo.

On Tuesday, Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod said Ottawa would contribute $2,391,700 over four years to help the program. McLeod said 218 Indigenous residents, including 80 women and 80 youth, would benefit.

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“Dechı̨ ta Nàowo provides an opportunity for our members to explore different avenues of training, and educate themselves for future careers in their life,” said Chief Ernest Betsina in prepared remarks.

In 2017, Dechı̨ ta Nàowo – established a year earlier – had five staff helping to run programming.

Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Tom Beaulieu, speaking at the program’s outset, told the legislature: “Approximately 46.6 percent of residents in Ndilo and Dettah have a high school diploma, which is below the territorial average of 73.6 percent. As well, employment rates in Ndilo and Dettah are very low.

“YKDFN’s solution is a locally delivered skills training to employment program that offers job counselling, personal counselling, targeted skills training, and work integrated training opportunities, all while retaining important connections to culture and tradition.”

Programs currently being run by Dechı̨ ta Nàowo include construction and gardening classes. Earlier this year, students took part in training on environmental remediation and heavy equipment operation.

Such training comes at an opportune moment as communities near Giant Mine await full remediation of the toxic former gold mine. That clean-up work is forecast to take years and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the local economy.

The federal project team overseeing the Giant Mine clean-up was recently told by its oversight board to do a better job of ensuring local residents have access to work at the site, which will increase significantly by 2020.