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Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO)

Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office (MEBO)

The Mi'kmaw Economic Benefits Office, (MEBO) was established in 2007 as a result of a vision and a culture of cooperation between all five First Nations communities in Cape Breton. MEBO first focused on ensuring local Aboriginals were part of the $400 million Sydney Tar Ponds Cleanup project.

MEBO has greatly strengthened its overall capability, accumulating considerable experience in building a broad network of industry and government partners. MEBO has also developed an intimate understanding of how major training programs work, and the management and delivery practices best suited to optimal success.

The Benefits Office seeks to expand its broad network of industry and government partners and, in doing so, identify both employment and business opportunities for local Aboriginals. MEBO works to prepare and support both individuals and Aboriginal businesses to be part of these opportunities. The Benefits Office strives to educate industry and government departments of the value of having a diverse workforce and, in doing so, provide solutions on how to better engage Aboriginals.

MEBO helps industry find the workers they need through promotion and recruitment efforts and provides training when necessary. MEBO is a non-profit organization serving all five First Nations communities in Cape Breton (Unama’ki) and works closely with other Aboriginal organizations in the Maritimes.

MEBO often describes its efforts as based on three pillars; 1- Engaging industry to understand the opportunities and make sure there are real job opportunities; 2- Training to prepare individuals; 3- Supporting individuals both through training and during the first year of employment.

Over the years, MEBO has received funding from the Province of Nova Scotia, Department of Labour and Advanced Education, ACOA and Service Canada (SPF Training program). As a result, MEBO has gained considerable experience in managing employment and training projects. Often these programs included a wage subsidy component and MEBO also manages these agreements and payments.

MEBO delivered and managed a province-wide training to employment initiative from 2013 to 2016 (ESDC SPF fund). This multimillion-dollar program required working with all 13 First Nations communities in the province as well as organizations such as Native Women’s Association, Mi'kmaw Friendship Centre and Native Council. Working with these organizations, MEBO was able to train over 700 people and create over 400 good jobs.

When MEBO’s SPF program ended, it launched a unique program under the Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI) at St. F.X. University, in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education (LAE). This program is focused on advancing those in apprenticeship trades. In late 2017, MEBO launched a phase two of this CEI initiative, one focused on an Enhanced Direct Entry Carpentry Program. Again, these programs involve many Mi’kmaq communities and industry partners, resulting in local Indigenous people gaining valuable work experience and many securing meaningful employment.

The Economic Benefits Office is sharply focused on industry and government engagement with indigenous communities our approach has evolved and is far more strategic resulting in the development of innovated initiatives such as the Unama’ki Apprenticeship Strategy and our Post-Secondary Labour Market Connector Strategy.

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