Inuit employment on radar for defence contractor Raytheon

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Raytheon, the US-based defence contractor which holds the contract with Canada’s Department of National Defence to oversee the North Warning System, plans on once again hosting open houses in Cambridge Bay and Hall Beach at the end of June.

The open houses, which include a community barbecue and a bit of a tour of a nearby radar site, as well as an information component about employment and training, are part of an ongoing effort to recruit Inuit, a contractual obligation.

Gary Lyall, right, a Raytheon employee, assists in the tensioning of radar guy wires at the long-range radar site near Cape Dyer, roughly 450 km northeast of Iqaluit. This is one of 31 sites in Nunavut that are a part of the North Warning System, an air-defence net that spans from Alaska to Labrador.
photo courtesy Raytheon

“We are continually recruiting,” said Raytheon’s program manager for the system Joe Krenofky.

“The recruitment efforts are really strong within the Inuit community. We strive to fill as many positions as possible on this program with Inuit from the three land-claim groups that our sites reside in.”

The North Warning System, a joint Canadian and US radar system for North American air defence, replaced the Distant Early Warning Line system roughly 30 years ago.

“It’s essentially 47 radar sites (in Canada). It’s a combination of short-range and long-range radar sites that net together to provide an air picture over the Canadian Arctic. And that air picture is shared with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and obviously NORAD has bases in Canada and the US,” said Krenofky.

Thirty-one sites are located in Nunavut.

The US-based defence contractor Raytheon holds the contract for the North Warning System, which, in Canada, spans from the Yukon to Labrador. The company has an extensive Inuit training and development component.
photo courtesy Nasittuq Corporation

Across three Inuit regions – Inuvialuit, Nunavut and Nunatsiavut – there are more than 30 Inuit beneficiaries currently employed full-time by Raytheon. Of those, eight are Nunavut Agreement beneficiaries, and six work at Nunavut sites. There are roughly 60 Raytheon employees at the Nunavut sites, in Cambridge Bay, Hall Beach and Iqaluit.

“That number spikes quite a bit higher than that when you consider our summer work when we bring on temporary staff to support the influx of work through the summer. And that doesn’t include Inuit beneficiaries employed by our sub-contractors,” said Krenofky.

Krenofky says Inuit are employed as administration staff, chefs, librarians, technicians, custodians, engineers, heavy equipment operators, IT and project management, buyers, warehouse personnel and a number of management and supervisory positions.

“There’s quite a breadth of positions that we have on the program and I’m pretty happy to say that Inuit cover more than half of the positions that are available in the program,” said Krenofky.

The company is obligated, similarly to Nunavut mines, to employ a percentage of Inuit and to employ services of Inuit-owned companies, but Krenofky said he could not disclose details due to confidentiality.

“Year over year we’ve continually exceeded the expectations and requirements in the contract,” said Krenofky, adding Raytheon has held the contract since 2014.

“We are very much continually looking for opportunities to engage with the Inuit communities and their representatives, and try to understand what opportunities are being sought in those communities. As well, what we can do to help those folks identify opportunities and what we can do to help them grow and develop their skills for those opportunities.”

Krenofky says it doesn’t matter if people go on to work on the North Warning System or not.

“Our Inuit training and development program is generally shaped around the idea of helping to grow the capabilities of the folks who live in the communities in which we have a site. Whether they come to work for North Warning or they go to work for the municipalities or the governments – we see all those as successes,” he said.

“We’re happy to play a part in helping share the knowledge and the courses and training we have to offer, that we’ve either developed or can bring forward, to help those folks get to where they’d like to be for their own individual career aspirations.”

Labrador Inuk Mitzi Wall is the Inuit beneficiary manager and runs the Inuit training and development program, and she’s the main point of contact for anyone interested in joining the program full-time if they’re already qualified, or anyone interested in becoming qualified, said Krenofky.

“Any Inuit beneficiaries who express interest in Raytheon employment or not, we’re happy to work with them to understand what their desires are and we’ll put together an individual training plan for each of them, individualized right to the person’s name, on their aspirations, then help them work through a curriculum of training or apprenticeship that brings them where they’d like to be in terms of their development and their career,” he said.

Wall will make the time to sit down with anyone who is interested, by telephone or in person.

A short-range site, part of the North Warning System, at Kangok Fiord on Baffin Island.
photo courtesy Raytheon