EKWA (ᐁᑲᐧ) which means “now is the time” in Cree. EKWA is an Indigenous owned and operated company. Mike Young, who is a fluent Swampy Cree speaker and traditionalist, is one of the owners and acts as President of EKWA. Mike’s twenty-seven years of experience in the industry, starting from the service rig sector and working his way up to wellsite supervisor, has given him valuable insights into the industry and the challenges faced by Indigenous people. He has made it his personal mission to improve the quality of life for those who have reached out to him for help. Similarly, Jon Velasco’s experience in the oil and gas sector, from service rig worker to starting and selling a successful downhole tools company, demonstrates his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to the industry. He has also worked on improving his soft skills, which are crucial for effective leadership and communication. Their partnership is built on trust and mutual respect, which is an essential foundation for any successful business. Since meeting Mike two years ago, their relationship has grown to the point of brotherhood. Mike can focus on his Indigenous walk because of this deep trusting relationship. By focusing on his Indigenous walk, Mike can ensure that EKWA stays true to its values and goals of supporting Indigenous individuals in the oil and gas industry.
At EKWA, our aim is to collaborate with Indigenous communities in the effort to provide training towards meaningful and sustainable employment starting with the service rig sector in the oil and gas industry. The 250-hour technical training course that EKWA has developed is a comprehensive program that provides trainees with the necessary skills and confidence to work effectively on a service rig. The emphasis on providing enough knowledge for a seamless transition into a live worksite is also important as it prepares trainees for the demands and expectations of the job. The fact that EKWA provides a safe and stress-free training environment on a fully functioning service rig site operation is a testament to the organization’s commitment to safety and inclusivity. Additionally, the post-employment mentorship, support, and liaison provided by EKWA can be a valuable resource for trainees as they navigate their new employment opportunities. Overall, EKWA’s approach is comprehensive, supportive, and empowering, which is necessary to ensure the success and sustainability of Indigenous individuals in the oil and gas industry.
We feel that graduating our Employment Readiness Training Program – Service Rig Edition equips all students with not only technical skills but also soft skills that are applicable in various work environments. Developing skills that aid in day-to-day working and living can not only benefit the trainees in their professional lives but also in their personal lives. By providing a well-rounded training program, EKWA is helping to prepare Indigenous individuals for success and sustainability in the oil and gas industry.