Category Archives: News releases

Elsipogtog First Nation encouraging Indigenous women to enter the construction trades while working to ease housing shortage

Construction apprentices Devonya Levi, Diana Augustine and Olivia Gehue pose in front work equipment at the site of a new family home under construction at Elsipogtog First Nation.
Construction apprentices Devonya Levi, Diana Augustine and Olivia Gehue pose in front work equipment at the site of a new family home under construction at Elsipogtog First Nation.

ELSIPOGTOG FIRST NATION, N.B. – Elsipogtog First Nation has partnered with a local female-owned and managed construction firm to encourage Indigenous women to enter the construction trades.

“Our community has a housing shortage,” says Lynn Francis, Director of Economic Development for Elsipogtog First Nation. “As well, there’s huge demand for construction workers. As we’re always looking for more career opportunities for members of our community, we thought that training women for work in the construction trades would be a perfect fit.”

“The entire construction industry is currently experiencing a significant labour shortage during an exceptionally busy time,” says Donna Ferguson, President of SheBuilds located in Dieppe, whose mostly female team is working with – and providing on-the-job apprenticeships to – three young Indigenous women from Elsipogtog as they work to achieve their Red Seal certifications. “One way this shortage is going to be relieved is for more women to enter it. And Indigenous women should be given every chance to be part of the equation. They just need to have it on their radar, so to speak. Partnering with Elsipogtog is a start!”

“If the construction industry is going to expand its workforce, it must be more welcoming to women,” she says. “There’s a large pool of women who don’t even consider the construction trades. And for Indigenous women, that’s likely amplified. We’re aiming to change that.”

A Red Seal endorsement is a seal on a professional construction worker’s provincial or territorial trade certificate which shows that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to practise their trade across Canada. Students earn Red Seal endorsements by successfully completing a rigorous education process of classroom theory, on-the-job apprenticeships and exams.

“A Red Seal construction worker can have a great career ahead of them and leave a legacy of homes, commercial buildings and other structures that will stand for generations to come,” Ms. Ferguson says. “I’m pleased to work with three talented and determined young women from Elsipogtog – Olivia Gehue, Devonya Levi and Diana Augustine – who’ve proven that they’re dedicated and motivated for careers in construction. We’re proud to provide them with apprenticeship mentoring as they work toward earning their Red Seals through the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Training and Labour.”

This training opportunity has been made possible through the collaboration of Elsipogtog Economic Development’s partners, including McGraw Housing, Mic Mac Industries, SheBuilds and the Elsipogtog Housing Department. Elsipogtog is the largest First Nations community in the province, with a population of 3,500 – 2,700 of whom live on reserve. The community is growing fast and has a young age demographic.

“The more community members we have who are properly trained and licensed in the construction trades, the more we can involve them in helping their own community,” says Mark Augustine, Elsipogtog’s Senior Employment and Training Officer. “The three young women we’ve sponsored will have secure jobs in the construction trades, whether they work in the community or on projects outside of it. It’s in the best interest of everyone that we do everything we can to help them succeed.”

“Many construction companies want to take advantage of the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation’s Housing Internship for Indigenous Youth (HIIY),” Mr. Augustine says. “This is a great program that provides a wage subsidy to housing organizations and businesses to hire Indigenous youth for internship positions. As the construction workforce crisis grows, we know that companies will be looking for more options. We’re happy to help them – and we’re happy to help our Indigenous youth discover careers that they may have previously thought were not possible. In fact, everything is possible!”

“The construction industry is a male-dominated industry,” says Ms. Ferguson. “As a woman who runs my own construction company, I’ve seen how intimidating the industry can be to women. Everyone says they’re concerned about the labour shortage, but attitudes will need to change because women are an untapped resource. This is as simple as suspending our pre-conceived notions of what tradespeople look like – long enough to give women an opportunity to prove they belong and can thrive.”

Already, SheBuilds has constructed three new homes in Elsipogtog using the three female apprentices. “By ensuring that they are properly trained and mentored, we help them succeed,” Ms. Ferguson says. “This, in turn, makes them ambassadors for the trades among Indigenous People – especially women. That’s how we break down barriers and bring more women and Indigenous People into the construction industry. The demand for workers is significant and traditional roadblocks need to be removed. Elsipogtog should be commended for their forward-thinking determination in this regard.”

“Every generation gets more accepting of new things,” says Ms. Francis, who leads the team seeking to enhance the economic strength of the Elsipogtog First Nation. “We hope that, as society evolves, Elsipogtog will be able to contribute to the goal of expanding the number of women in the construction trades. In turn, they’ll be motivated to help their own community in our own construction projects, as well as elsewhere. It’s a win-win for all.”


Media contact:

Brian Cormier

Elsipogtog First Nation’s Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour tourism experience opens for the season on July 6

From left to right: Adam Simon, Tourism Project Coordinator; Michelle Levi, Heritage Interpreter/Knowledge Keeper/Artisan; Mona Roberts, Interpreter/Knowledge Keeper/Artisan; Gary Augustine, Interpreter/Knowledge Keeper/Artisan; Anna-Marie Weir, Tourism Relations and Communications Liaison


July 2, 2020
For immediate release

Elsipogtog First Nation’s Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour tourism experience opens for the season on July 6

ELSIPOGTOG, N.B. – Elsipogtog First Nation announced today that the 2020 season of its popular Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour tourism experience will officially open to guests on Monday, July 6. This year’s version of the experience will have extra safeguards in order to protect visitors and staff during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but all efforts will be made to ensure a meaningful and educational experience for everyone who takes part. For instance, reservations are required before taking part to ensure safe attendance numbers.

“The tourism project management team has worked very hard to modify and enhance the cultural experience and product offerings at Elsipogtog for the 2020 tourism season,” says Lynn Francis, Director of Economic Development for Elsipogtog First Nation. “Indigenous tourism is an integral part of economic development in the community – equally as important is the cultural awareness role that the tourism experience provides.”

After its start in 2018, the Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour tourism experience soon proved to be extremely popular. Elsipogtog First Nation is greatly looking forward to welcoming guests again this year and is continuously working to improve the experience. The entire team looks forward to welcoming the public this year.

“We have been working closely with the Heritage Interpreters to help modify the product offerings and experiences by enhancing training capacity and product development,” says Adam Simon, Tourism Project Coordinator with Elsipogtog First Nation.

The 2020 season begins on Monday, July 6, and runs until Friday, October 9. Due to COVID-19 enhanced safety protocols, reservations are required. Private tours are available upon request.

Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour overview

After a traditional greeting, guests will enter the community-raised tipi for a smudging ceremony with teachings and insights that will help connect the past ways to present-day Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq cultural ways and customs. Guests will then be led by one of the interpretive knowledge keepers into the pristine forested Heritage Path where they will learn about traditional and time-honored ways of using Mother Nature’s gifts and medicines to better oneself and the community.

The last part of the Heritage Path journey takes place in the community’s cultural centre where guests have a safe place and space to ask any and all questions they may have about the Mi’kmaq culture in order to further their understanding of the true way of life at Elsipogtog. Guests will leave enriched by a deeper understanding and connection to the cultural teachings and ways of the Mi’kmaq.

Reservation and contact information:

506-521-0308 or


Monday to Friday
10-11:30 a.m. or 2-3:30 p.m. daily
(Weekends are available with advance reservations of two weeks.)

Admission fees:

Adults: $45
Seniors: $40.50 (ages 65+)
Youth: $35 (ages 6-17)
5 years of age and younger: Free accompanied by adult
A snack is provided.

All guests should check in at the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq Cultural Centre located at 29 Big Cove Road, Elsipogtog First Nation, off Route 116 approximately 14 kilometres from Rexton. Address link:

Strategic partnerships

Elsipogtog First Nation has also formed strategic partnerships with a number of other tourism-related organizations and will be bringing the Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour on the road during the month of July for in-person experiential previews:

• Wednesday July 15: Albert County Museum, Hopewell Cape, 1:30-3 p.m.
• Wednesday July 22: Magnetic Hill Wharf Village, Moncton, 1:30-3 p.m.
• Wednesday July 29: Rodd Miramichi River, Miramichi, 1:30-3 p.m.

For more information about these off-site experiential presentations or about potential partnerships please contact Anna-Marie Weir at 506-521-0308 or email at

For more information on the Mi’kmaq Heritage Path Tour, visit (changing to effective July 6). For more information on Elsipogtog First Nation, visit


Media contacts:

Adam Simon
Tourism Project Coordinator
Elsipogtog First Nation

Lynn Francis
Director of Economic Development
Elsipogtog First Nation

Elsipogtog First Nation congratulates Elder Joe John Sanipass on prestigious Pioneer Award from TIANB


For immediate release
May 25, 2017

Elsipogtog First Nation congratulates Elder Joe John Sanipass on prestigious Pioneer Award from Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick (TIANB)

ELSIPOGTOG, N.B. – The Elsipogtog First Nation is honoured that one of its most respected members – Elder Joe John Sanipass – has received the prestigious 2017 Pioneer Award from the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick (TIANB). The presentation took place at TIANB’s Annual Tourism Summit in Fredericton on May 24.

Joe John Sanipass, 80, is an elder and artisan who has been making baskets for 70 years. He also holds numerous workshops where participants learn the basic techniques of the art. He has his own sweat lodge and hosts those who are striving for greater meaning in life through this very spiritual tradition. The TIANB Pioneer Award is given to those who have demonstrated their commitment and outstanding contribution to the promotion of tourism and the province of New Brunswick.

Elder Joe John Sanipass, Elsipogtog First Nation
Elder Joe John Sanipass, Elsipogtog First Nation

“Our knowledge-keepers like Joe keep our culture going for generation after generation,” said Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock. “His baskets are in high demand both inside and outside our community throughout the Maritimes.”

Elsipogtog First Nations Administrator Derwin J. Joseph was also very pleased to learn of the recognition. “Congratulations to Joe John Sanipass on this award. Our hopes for future generations to retain vital cultural wisdom rest on such recognition of our people and the skill they possess to pass it on,” he said. “This will serve well our goal of establishing more than just a tourism product from Elsipogtog, but a means by which our culture will continue forward for our own people – and the people we share our land with.”

“This is a proud moment for the community of Elsipogtog,” said Lynn Francis, Director of Economic Development, Elsipogtog First Nation. “Our elder has dedicated many years to maintain and share the art of traditional Mi’kmaq basket-making with the people of Elsipogtog. Elder Joe John Sanipass has also been teaching basket-making techniques to a group of participants from the Heritage Interpreter Certification Program. We are creating a path through capacity building to reach our goal of developing a self-sustaining indigenous tourism product.”

In addition to his work as an artisan, Elder Joe John Sanipass also uses his wisdom to counsel and mentor others who may have fallen on hard times. He works uses his life knowledge and experience to help provide guidance to those needing a helping hand and elder support. As well, he conducts traditional ceremonies and has been privileged provide to personal and spiritual marriage ceremonies for those have requested his knowledge and wisdom for such important traditions.


For more information, please contact:

Derwin J. (D.J.) Joseph
Nation Administrator