A northern Ontario high school is celebrating a unique partnership and it's one that the school says will benefit many of its students, as well as the welding industry.

A piece of welding equipment is a crucial tool that allows for Kapuskasing District High School students to become certified welders.

"It's really cool that the school is offering that. It gives students a better opportunity to go out and explore different jobs that they could get." said student Austin Brenard.

The partnership is a first in the region and it addresses the shortage of certified welders throughout the north and officials say it's also an effort at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

"If we can't find employment in the area, then we have to move out of the area. And we like to keep our youth in the north so they can stay with their families and be productive in the community. And this is how Moose Cree First Nation wanted to partner with this initiative." said Ernie Lafontaine, Kapuskasing project coordinator for Moose Cree First Nation.

"If we can help at the high school level, we can give them a fresh start and a very solid financial start right out of high school." said Rosane Parent, of Kapuskasing Friendship Centre.


By the time students who enroll in the various welding classes finish high school and pass all their tests, they are employable in the industry.

"We actually intend to give some certificates to our students this year and every year, so when they get to grade 12 they can be fully certified in all welding positions." said Normand Vallee, high school teacher.

"That card is the authorization from the CWB group to weld on structures, steel structures, and anything that people walk on, stairs, handrails, that kind of thing." said John Longstreet, of Canadian Welding Bureau.


It took a year to establish the program in collaboration with several local businesses in order to provide the equipment and assist with training.