By Rick Garrick
THUNDER BAY – Superior Strategies owner Jason Thompson is expanding his Red Rock Indian Band-based quality management consulting and training services business to a rural location in Thunder Bay.
“We believe there is a great opportunity for training in Thunder Bay,” says Thompson, noting that a challenge they were facing was finding a suitable location to deliver training under tight timelines in Thunder Bay. “So we decided if we can establish our own training centre and plant some roots, hopefully it will help further enhance our presence in the region.”
Thompson, a Red Rock Indian Band citizen, took possession of the new location at 1795 Dawson Rd. on June 15 and plans to hold a Mental Health First Aid for First Nations course there on July 4.
“It meets all of our needs so we can do a bunch of training activities there, whether it is indoor or outdoor, because there is a lot of property,” Thompson says. “We are also going to have the building accessible to our community partners who might be looking for some space to hold meetings or gatherings.”
Thompson initially started up Superior Strategies about 10 years ago. The business currently offers a variety of training courses, including health and safety training, confined space awareness training, WHMIS, first aid programs, babysitting courses, employment skills training, service excellence training and hospitality and tourism training.
“We try to link people to employment,” Thompson says. “We try to train the essential skills that employers are looking for.”
Thompson says the training was initially offered to the Indigenous community, but Superior Strategies has since expanded to do work for companies such as CP Rail, CN Rail, Resolute Forest Products and TBT Engineering, as well as many other organizations.
“Our customer base is quite large,” Thompson says. “We strive to provide a first class product to meet the needs of our customers. We are also very committed to helping Aboriginal (people) gain employment, and to create opportunities.”
Thompson says six Indigenous students recently completed an Industrial Millwright Program that Cambrian College held in partnership with Superior Strategies and Resolute Forest Products. The students are now employed with Resolute.
“The students were guaranteed full-time employment,” Thompson says. “And they are also working to obtain their trade certification as an industrial millwright.”
Thompson says his future plans include the development of Superior Strategies’ own training materials and to further build the company’s brand image.
Kirstine Baccar, office/business development manager with Superior Strategies and a former Red Rock Indian Band councillor, says her role is to run the day-to-day business, market and develop the business, do proposal writing and customized program development, seek funding and implement projects.
Baccar recently coordinated and facilitated Indigenous engagement sessions for the Ministry of Transportation’s Northern Ontario Multimodal Transportation Strategy and the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Forum for the Ontario Native Women’s Association.
“I also coordinated and facilitated the Anishinabek Nation’s First Nations Education Engagement Forum and developed a cultural awareness training program that I’ve been delivering to different industry partners,” Baccar says.
Business plan development, strategic planning, project management and human resource management services are also offered by Superior Strategies.
“We work with industry partners and we speak to them about what they need in the short to long term for their workforce,” Baccar says. “And we work with the adjacent communities, educational institutions and training institutions to develop programs that are up to industry standards.”