Ukrainians join Resolute staff
October 5, 2022 By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Immigrants are continuing the tradition of coming to Thunder Bay to find work, improve their livelihoods and settle into a new country and at least three organizations are helping in their transition.
Resolute Forest Products’ recruitment strategy, the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) project and the Thunder Bay Multicultural Association are working together to train and place immigrants arriving from Ukraine into the Thunder Bay workforce.
Resolute Forest Products is leading the way by providing employment opportunities in Northwestern Ontario for Ukrainians fleeing the war in Ukraine. The company expects to recruit 10 employees from Ukraine at the Thunder Bay sawmill, six at the Ignace sawmill and more than 20 at the Atikokan plant.
With 17 Ukrainians already in their new roles at the Atikokan sawmill, and an additional seven already hired and on their way to Canada, the plant has raised its goal to hire from 20 to 25 people from Ukraine by the end of the year.
Altogether, these 40 newcomers to Canada will help alleviate the ongoing work shortage.
Seth Kursman, vice-president of corporate communications, sustainability and government affairs with Resolute Forest Products, says this objective is made possible through a partnership between Atikokan Employment Centre, Atikokan Economic Development Corporation, Atikokan Adult Learning Centre and the Newcomer Centre of Peel.
The collaboration is providing housing, guidance for obtaining work permits, health insurance and bank accounts. The most important factor is the provision of language training which is essential to move forward with skill training certification programs.
“Not all of those are in place yet, but they’re in the works and it’s really wonderful,” Kursman said. “We certainly understand that people at some point may return to Ukraine but what we hope is that people like it in Ontario and choose to become part of the communities.”
He says Resolute has plenty of open positions with more always coming up and if they can fill them with newcomers, it’s “wonderful” to be able to help and hopefully stimulate new generations of workers who will call Canada “home.”
Kursman says across the company, they have hundreds of open positions and many of them are for trade workers.
Because of the severe labour shortages, they are seeking people in French-speaking countries across the globe, including French-speaking countries in Africa to attract workers. They are even reaching out to the Philippines, to bring Filipino workers to Canada to learn English to move on to training and certification.
“There’s a very bright future in the forest products industry, especially in areas like Northwestern Ontario where we have three sawmills and the pulp and paper mill, “ he said.
Sandi Krasowski is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter with The Chronicle-Journal.
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