Social Impact Stories

Bright future ahead: Journeyperson powerline technician Frank Betsina’s insight on apprenticeships and planning for a career in trades

The Arctic Canadian Apprenticeship Program offers a combination of on-the-job training, work experience, and technical training from some of the most knowledgeable journeypersons in the mining industry. The program contributes to the Arctic Canadian mission of creating a brilliant and prosperous future in the North by providing opportunities to learn a skilled trade.

Frank Betsina is a graduate of the Arctic Canadian Apprenticeship Program having completed his journeyperson powerline technician ticket in 2022. He is heading back to school in January 2023 for another four years, as an electrician apprentice, to complete his second trade ticket. We caught up with Frank to learn more about his experience as an apprentice at the Ekati Diamond Mine.

1. What initially drew you to a career in mining?

I come from a mining family. My father, my two brothers, and my uncles, all work in mining. In fact, except for one of my brothers, they all work at Ekati, so sooner or later, I was bound to follow in their footsteps. I also like working shift work, because it enables me to have longer periods of time off, which I find rewarding.

2. What did you do prior to coming to work at Ekati?

I was a powerline technician apprentice in Yellowknife for four years with Northland Utilities. I did everything from underground work, to setting overhead transformers, to building powerlines, troubleshooting and installing meters for houses; anything that needed to be done to distribute power and build infrastructure.

3. Tell us about where you grew up.

I grew up in Ndilǫ (ˈdiːloʊ), which is a small Dene First Nations community outside of Yellowknife. This is where I spent my entire childhood, but now I reside in Yellowknife.

4. How did you come to join Arctic Canadian?

I started in the powerline trade at a young age, so I thought it was time for a change and looked for an opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills. I saw an electrical apprentice position advertised with Arctic Canadian and I applied. I wanted to build on my powerline technician apprentice experience, so I asked if I could complete the 1,000 hours I had left in my powerline technician apprenticeship and have the company sign off on my Blue Book to obtain my powerline technician ticket. Now I am working toward my electrician ticket.

5. How did you hear about Arctic Canadian’s Apprenticeship Program?

I was always aware that the mines in the Northwest Territories are looking for apprentices and I have seen opportunities advertised in the past.

6. Tell us about your experience as an apprentice at Ekati.

I felt welcomed at Ekati as soon as I started with the company in May 2021. It’s a great team environment and you work with the same people on rotation for two weeks, so you really get to know everyone on shift. Although I already had my prior experience to rely on, the journeypersons and management team are always willing to help and teach you. They made sure I was safe, prepared and had what I needed to get the job done.

7. You are heading back to school to become an electrician – tell us about it.

Coming out of high school, I knew I wanted to do trade work and obtain more than one ticket. Powerline and electrician work is different, yet similar in some aspects and I wanted to build on the skillset I already had. Being certified in two trades is also beneficial for my future experience and career advancement goals.

8. Would you recommend Arctic Canadian’s Apprenticeship Program to others and why?

I absolutely would. This is my second apprenticeship and especially here at Ekati, I really enjoy the two weeks on, two weeks off shift rotation. The journeypersons I work with are knowledgeable and have a passion for teaching, which is an important aspect for me. Ekati hires the best journeypersons and hopefully one day I will be half as good as them.

9. What is one of the biggest challenges for you while working and completing an education?

Because of the nature of our industry and shiftwork rotations, you must get used to being away from home for longer periods of time. Sometimes this means missing out on important holidays or family celebrations, which can be challenging.

10. What is some advice you would give someone looking to be part of Arctic Canadian’s Apprenticeship Program?

I would advise anyone interested in pursuing a career in trades to be familiar with high school math or write the trade entrance exam while still in high school. The exam is valid for at least five years and a requirement prior to becoming an apprentice at Ekati. I would also advise people to keep an open mind and be teachable. This will benefit your career in trades overall and it’s a big part of becoming a master of your craft.

If you would like more information about the Arctic Canadian Apprenticeship Program, please contact careers@arcticcanadian.ca or visit our careers page to view available job opportunities.

 

Frank Betsina is a graduate of the Arctic Canadian Apprenticeship Program, through which he completed his powerline technician ticket in 2022.

 

The journeypersons and management team are always willing to help and teach you. They made sure I was safe, prepared, and had what I needed to get the job done.” – Frank Betsina on his experience as an apprentice at Ekati Diamond Mine.

 

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