Merit Contractors has made a large donation to schools in Cold Lake and Bonnyville.

The company has invested $400,000 in the Northern Lights School Division to build a trades lab at Cold Lake Middle School, and a scaffolding training centre in Bonnyville. Line Porfon, Merit’s Vice-President of Government Relations, says the donations were to bring exposure to the trades.

“A couple [of] years ago, our board recognized that one of the gaps that there was was the exposure to trades as a really good career,” Porfon said. “There’s been the impression for a really long time [that] ‘well, if you’re not successful academically, you can always take a trade’. That’s a fallacy now.  Trades are something that take a good bit of smarts, and is a really good career option. So our board authorized two years of funding – the first year $1.2 million, and the second $1 million – in order to provide programs in schools across Alberta, that would bring exposure to trades as a good career.

Porfon also says that the projects with the NLSD is one of 7 projects they are funding.

Mandi Skogen, a board trustee with NLSD, says she’s pleased with the donation.

“We are so thankful to the Merit Contractors Association, for providing our students with this wonderful opportunity to learn about construction, and develop their skills, these skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives,” Skogen said. “It’s pretty amazing to have a partner like Merit to help us provide our students with these valuable hands-on learning opportunities, and it’s these types of opportunities that our students and parents have indicated that they’d like to have offered in our schools.

Merit says they will announce the next project in February.