RJ Dedam spent 11 weeks driving 1.5 hours, twice a day, in order to take the training he needed to begin a new career as an underground miner.
“My girlfriend watched both of our kids at home while I was taking the course,” said RJ. “She was very supportive of me going. I never missed a day.”
RJ lives in Esgenoopetitj and the underground mining course included 7 weeks of in-class training at NBCC Miramichi and 4 weeks of on-the-job training at the Caribou Mine. His hard work and dedication paid off as he is now working and training with Major Drilling Co., formally known as Taurus, as a Drilling & Blaster helper at the Caribou Mine.
“The training lasted 11 weeks,” said RJ. “The onsite training was 8am-3pm each day, which included lots of walking, scaling, pipefitting and just using the equipment that was down there. The same basic work that a miner would do. The best part of the course is that now that I have completed it, I've got a full-time job and will have steady income to provide for my family. And of course, it was a great experience to be given the opportunity to learn something new and to get out of my comfort zone.”
RJ is glad to have the security of full-time work. Over the last 4 years he has done seasonal work at the fish processing plant in Caraquet.
“It’s a full-time job for at least 6 years in this mine,” said RJ. “This is what I want to keep doing for the rest of my life. It’s a good career to be in. They’re saying that this will be going for a while so I’m not concerned about having to change jobs in the future.”
RJ was glad that he found this opportunity and took the chance.
“If It wasn’t for JEDI I probably wouldn’t have been in the course,” said RJ. “JEDI had a very important role, they helped pay half of the tuition for the students. It's great to have an organization like them looking out for our First Nations people.”
RJ is looking forward to his new career. He has this advice to share with others who are starting something new.
"If there's any advice I can give, it’s that with hard work and dedication you can do anything you set your mind to," said RJ. "I feel that if I can do it, anyone can, just stick to it and you can get things done. It should definitely pay off in the end!”