MB Hydro Indigenous Youth Employment Recruitment- Event Recap

On Wednesday, January 16th, a representative from Manitoba Hydro came to the University of Manitoba campus to discuss prospective summer employment for Indigenous students. Hosted in Migizii Agamik, students gathered to listen to a 45 minute presentation on the how’s and why’s to apply for a summer position.

The speaker provided statistics regarding Indigenous employment, stating that Manitoba Hydro has surpassed their goals for Indigenous employment numbers. They stated that 50% of their Northern employees, along with 10% of their self defined “professional” members identify as Indigenous. They prided themselves in their accomplishments as a diverse employer. These statistics may seem surprising though to the rest of us, 50% seems like a large number, however how many people from the North do they employ? That unfortunately, we were unable to find out.

If Hydro claims to be surpassing their quotas, then why don’t they raise their quotas? Many northern community members with the skills and necessary training have been patiently awaiting employment, only to see a job they qualify for given to a worker from the South. Meeting quotas is not enough. Manitoba Hydro should focus less on their stats and more on accessing Indigenous job banks like Working Warriors. The fact of the matter is, the jobs given to those directly living with the impacts of hydro development are often lower paying jobs, providing little skill development and room for upward movement in the company. This isn’t always the case, but a familiar story we’ve heard all too often from hydro affected community members, reminding us that they work for Manitoba Hydro because they have little choice. It is a direct result of the destruction of their community and traditional livelihoods.

Reviewing the numbers on the corporate side of the company, we can see that a mere 10% of employees found working in the office making decisions and in positions of power are Indigenous. Yet Manitoba Hydro surpassed their quotas, priding themselves on this achievement. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem fair that those most immediately affected on a daily basis by hydro have little to no say about where the Crown Corporation is headed.

Ultimately, we understand that Manitoba Hydro is working towards filling quotas, and has made an effort to employ Indigenous peoples, however it raises the question of whether that truly is enough to make up for the disproportionate losses faced by Indigenous people in our province.

We don’t think it’s enough.

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