Portage College to Provide Skills Training Program for Cenovus’s Indigenous Housing Initiative
December 2, 2020

Portage College is pleased to announce it is collaborating with Cenovus Energy Inc. and six Indigenous communities to support Cenovus’s Indigenous Housing Initiative with the 24-week Construction and Trades Readiness Program. The Cenovus-funded program will provide home construction and maintenance training opportunities for members of the six Indigenous communities that are part of the company’s $50 million, five-year program to help address the shortage of housing in Indigenous communities near the company’s oil sands operations in northeastern Alberta.

“Work-integrated learning opportunities are critical to student learning and a successful entry into the workforce. I want to commend Portage College and Cenovus Energy for putting student learning at the forefront of this partnership by ensuring students get the education they need to find careers in their communities.”

- Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education, Government of Alberta

Cenovus launched its Indigenous Housing Initiative in early 2020 with the six Indigenous communities closest to its Foster Creek and Christina Lake oil sands operations: Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Chard Métis Community Association, Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation, Cold Lake First Nations, Conklin Métis (Local 193) and Heart Lake First Nation. In addition to the construction of new homes and the training program, Cenovus also aims to work with communities to raise awareness about the Indigenous housing shortage and help advocate for solutions.

“This housing initiative and training program are the largest community investment in the history of Cenovus, and Portage College is proud to be a partner in the project.”

- Guy Gervais, Vice President Academic, Portage College

“Training local residents so they have the skills to participate in building and maintaining their homes is crucial to the success of our Indigenous Housing Initiative. We worked with the communities and Portage College to design a tailor-made training program that we’re confident will provide the foundation for valuable education and employment opportunities for local residents in the long term.”

-Rhona DelFrari, Cenovus Vice-President, Sustainability & Engagement

Working with Cenovus and the communities, Portage College will provide a 24-week Construction and Trades Readiness Program focused on trades preparation and construction skills. The program is expected to start recruiting students in early 2021, and the program will be delivered in some of the participating communities.

“By collaborating with Cenovus and the communities we are bringing work integrated learning to Indigenous students. This will create valuable education and employment opportunities for local residents in the long term, beyond the duration of the housing initiative.”

- Nancy Broadbent, President and CEO, Portage College

The program begins with identifying the learners’ personal and educational goals and getting to know their individual needs. Students will then focus on trades training and work-integrated learning to develop the employment-focused skills designed for entry into the workplace such as home construction and maintenance. Throughout the program, Portage College will utilize an instructor, journeyman and success coach to support student learning and student success.

“This training program will provide an opportunity for members of the community to learn valuable skills which they will carry into future careers and holistically into their personal lives and the well-being of their communities. Graduates can work toward a trade certification, which will certainly assist communities where we currently face shortages of skilled trades persons. Portage College is so grateful for the initiative Cenovus has shown and is honoured to have been chosen as the delivery partner. We are looking forward to connecting people with knowledge and opportunities, empowering transformation for the people and their communities.”

- Nancy Broadbent, President and CEO, Portage College

Media Inquiries:
Jaime Davies, Corporate Communications Manager 
780-623-5581 or email

We acknowledge that Portage College’s service region is on the traditional lands of First Nation Peoples, the owners of Treaty 6, 8 and 10, which are also homelands to the Métis people. We honour the history and culture of all people who first lived and gathered in these lands.
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