Expo North returns to Thompson

For the second year in a row, constructors and hopeful contractors will have the chance for training at Expo North, taking place at the Thompson Regional Community Centre Feb. 24-26.

Sarah Piercy, manager of marketing and communications for the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association (MHCA), says there are a few new opportunities too, one being a leadership course. “It’s five days of quite full classes, starting at 8 a.m. It does mimic a full construction day, earlier in the morning, quite later in the afternoon. We’ve had very strong pickup for the leadership program for the north. We think that’s because students and employers are going to recognize an entirely comprehensive week of training demonstrating how to perform as a leader.”

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Peter Paulic, vice president and general manager for Smook Contractors, says this leadership program is beneficial for more than construction workers. “It’s not a leadership program for heavy construction, one for the mining industry, or anything like that, it’s the commonalities we need for that leader. It’s put together as one program. The courses offered for the leadership program are university-accredited, and Gold Seal-accredited.”

The week-long program will start on Feb. 23, costing an individual $1,000. Piercy says there’s pre-registration online at the MHCA website or by calling 204-255-7006, but applications can be filled out on the Monday.

This year another new feature is a guest speaker. “His name is Big Daddy Taz and he’s a comedian. He’s speaking on Tuesday the 24th at noon, and what he addresses is stigma and stereotypes. I think given the reality of Manitoba’s workforce this is a really important conversation to have.”

Last year, the event saw over 200 individuals trained in multiple different areas. Paulic says it’s important Expo North continues coming to Thompson because travelling to the Winnipeg Expo isn’t always doable. “Having Expo North, I don’t have to send our guys out to travel for one, two says. Many of the contractors need, when you get to be our size, many need the safety training every year anyway. You’re safety and health members need 16 hours of training a year, which is two days of training. If we can offer the courses up here, we can get it done here. Everything you’d ever want down south is up here.”

Piercy also says it’s important to keep the expo going. “We have a significant member population that are located in the north. The north begins in Grand Rapids for us. Over the last 10 years or so our members would attend southern training events, and their feedback was generally the same. ‘You offer such a great event, but it would be nice for someone to come to our area.’”

There will be a lot of heavy construction work happening in the near future up north, and Piercy says that is another important reason to have this available. “Mining is changing in the north, forestry is changing in the north, and tourism is changing in the north. All of these courses that Expo North offers apply to the very diversified economy in Northern Manitoba.”

The goal is to have open, transparent, accountable, proactive and functional communication, with high-quality instructors and programming.

Along with the training, and leadership program, there will be exhibitors set up in the gymnasium to showcase businesses and starting out in the heavy construction industry. Paulic says high school students will have the chance to walk through the booths, try the simulators, and speak to contractors about the possibility of future jobs.

Piercy says registration is still open for Expo North, and spots are still available for the exhibition area. 

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