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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 

'Everyone thought we were stupid'

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by Fred Lum.
The Globe and Mail, December 14, 2001

Part 5 of 7: Increasing Raglan's Inuit workforce


Salluit Family is a big issue, but nothing has challenged Falconbridge as much as language. When the new Inuit recruits found they were receiving instructions, even on-the-job training, in French, they complained of discrimination - as did the francophone supervisors, with the support of the province, when they were asked to learn English or Inuktitut.

Nonetheless, Giroux believes that he can get the number of permanent Inuit up to 85 next year, from the current 61, and then ultimately push it toward 200. But he does not hide the fact that the company is as frustrated as the local communities. It has spent $5-million on training 360 Inuit to work at Raglan, he says, but it will not compromise the safety or viability of the mine to put people in jobs for which they are not qualified.

Giroux has launched a sweeping cost-cutting program that will reduce the size of the work force, even as he is trying to attract more Inuit employees and is heading into contract negotiations with the mine's union. If he does not chop $12-million from his annual budget by 2003, his own job may be on the line.

To his doubters, Giroux need only point to Falconbridge's operation in the Dominican Republic, where 1,500 workers were laid off for three months in October because of the global economic slowdown.

Because of the weak economy, Falconbridge has already postponed the bulk of its profit-sharing agreement with the Inuit for at least four more years. The Makivik managers, who watched their big stock portfolio drop after the Sept. 11 attacks, understood the company's situation. The warning to employees, most of whom have never been outside their region, was a bit slower to slip in.

Because of isolation, poor schools and a tradition that does not include education, only a minority of Inuit adults have the skills and education needed to work at a world-class mine. Of the 700 Inuit names in his database, Paul Okituk, an employment officer with the regional government, says only a few have more than a Grade 5 education.

"I don't think we're joining the mainstream of society as well as we should," he says. "We're totally unprepared for what is happening to the rest of the world."
THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 7):


Photo Essay
Heavy Mettle


1. 'When we first started, we were nothing'
Life at the Raglan mine

2. Getting the nickel out
Fresh food, workers flown in weekly to remote mine

3. 'I feel like a white man hunting for ore'
The racial divide at Raglan

4. Time becomes an issue
'The family is more important than the job'

5. Increasing Raglan's Inuit workforce
'I don't think we're joining the mainstream of society as well as we should'

6. Knowing how to adapt
Preparing for the next generation at the coastal village of Salluit

7. Inuit savvy makes them a business partner
'The Inuit adapt admirably to the site, but I contend the site is not very good at adapting to the Inuit way'


 
 

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