Success stories: Aboriginal labour market programs

The lives of Canadians are touched on a daily basis by Employment and Social Development Canada and its portfolio partners. These success stories are about Canadians who have changed their own lives, or those of others.

Unearthing a golden future

Yvette Mattawashish now has a new career in mining.

Read this story: Unearthing a golden future

Mistissini, Quebec — Yvette Mattawashish was working as an educator in a daycare center when she came across a flyer advertising a training program for mining. Intrigued by the challenge, Yvette decided to apply. As a young single-mother of two with no high school diploma, she wondered whether it could lead to a new career that would provide a better future for her children and inspire them.

“I went to a mine when I was in grade six on a field trip and went underground for the first time. I liked it then and I like it even more today,” said Yvette. “I know many women have told me that they’d be scared to work underground. I tell them it isn’t scary. I would really encourage more women to give it a try!”

The training program, run by the Cree Regional Authority in partnership with local mines, was funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’ Skills and Partnership Fund.

Yvette received six months of in-class and on-the-job training to be an underground miner for ore extraction. She learned to drill, muck, provide equipment and prepare explosives and load drill holes.

Only three months after graduating, Yvette landed a nine-month contract with the Creeco Dumas mining company. Since completing her contract there, Yvette has been actively upgrading her skills and applying for jobs. She is positive about her prospects. “This training opportunity changed everything, from negative to positive! Doors have opened for me now and I have a better outlook. I like this work and I want to stay in mining,” said Yvette.

Yvette’s decision has inspired others, too. “My children now have a role model and my mom is so proud of me! She helped me so much. She took care of my children and urged me not to give up when I was discouraged. And one of my friends— the one I was with when I first saw the promotion flyer—is off to college!”

The Skills and Partnership Fund encourages Aboriginal organizations to create partnerships with government, businesses and community organizations to improve skills training and create opportunities for Aboriginal people.

Cooking to perfection

Finding Self-Satisfaction in Training Others

Read this story: Cooking to perfection

June 12, 2014

Chilliwack, British Columbia — After having been a stay-at-home mother for several years, Melinda Russell was looking for training that would lead to a motivating job. At the time, she had no idea that she was about to be propelled in a direction of great success.

After considering many choices, she decided cooking as a career looked promising and exciting. In , she joined the Stó:Lo Aboriginal Skills & Employment Training (SASET) Culinary Arts Pre-Trade Program. SASET is the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) agreement holder that serves her community.

ASETS is part of a government-wide approach to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit people secure meaningful and long-term employment. This approach focuses on supporting demand-driven skills training and fostering partnerships with the private sector, provinces and territories, with an emphasis on accountability and results.

During the program, one of Melinda's biggest challenges was balancing her work and her home life while finding time to study. But through determination and perseverance, she was able to excel in the course.

After graduating, she worked at a few different restaurants in the Abbotsford area. She really enjoyed her work: "I enjoy cooking for people and having them be excited about food I prepare. It makes me excited to cook every day and when I feel good about what I'm doing, I feel good about myself, and that extends into other areas of my life."

In early , SASET's culinary program opened a catering department. In the search for cooks, Melinda's name was the first to hit the table. She agreed to work at SASET and started to run the day-to-day operations of the teaching kitchen. She is doing an amazing job as sous-chef.

In , Melinda was featured as best-in-trade at the National Aboriginal Day festivities in Stanley Park's Klahowya Village. Her speech was honest, gracious and inspirational: "I am excited about all the support, success and opportunity this job has led too. I will always be learning and enjoying myself and that excites me as I continue to explore the many possibilities that professional cook can lead to!"

For more information, please visit ASETS.

Keep up the good work, Joshua

Joshua Pugh is on his way to reach his goal: a stable career in forestry.

Read this story: Keep up the good work, Joshua

May 12, 2014

Chilliwack, British Columbia — Since Since graduating from high school, Joshua Pugh held a number of jobs, from housekeeping to painter’s assistant. But his goal was to find a more stable career.

While exploring his options, Joshua visited Stó:Lo Aboriginal Skills & Employment Training (SASET). SASET is the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) agreement-holder that serves his community.

ASETS is part of a government-wide approach to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit people secure meaningful and long-term employment. This approach focuses on supporting demand-driven skills training and fostering partnerships with the private sector, provinces and territories, with an emphasis on accountability and results.

At SASET, Joshua learned of a training opportunity in forestry that piqued his interest. In school, he had excelled in earth sciences, so the study of forestry seemed like a good place to start. The fact that Joshua was guaranteed a job in forestry upon completion of his first year of study made the opportunity even more appealing.

Thanks to the First Nations Forestry Council and ASETS funding, Joshua entered the Forestry Technician Program offered at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) in Merritt, B.C. He learned about forestry theory, the natural environment, conducting field surveys, technical mathematics and technical writing. He found the training very interesting. His biggest challenge was with algebra. However, slowly and steadily, the pieces fell into place and algebra started to make sense. Geometry and trigonometry came easily.

What Joshua was most excited about was the opportunity to start working in the forestry industry. His current job allows him to apply what he has learned. It also gives him a better sense of opportunities in the industry.

Joshua is cautiously optimistic and is committed to his studies. Congratulations Joshua. Keep up the good work.

For more information, please visit ASETS.

Mikhail overcame his fears

With Government of Canada support, Mikhail discovered untapped potential and expanded his creative and technical skills.

Read this story: Mikhail overcame his fears

May 09, 2014

Agassiz, British Columbia — Since , Mikhail Crispin has been working full-time with the Sts’ailes First Nation IT department, maintaining community websites. He has also been involved in producing newsletters, brochures, annual reports, business cards and other products.

Mikhail’s interest in computers started in high school, where he excelled in computer class. Since he was hired, he has essentially been learning on the job; however, with time, the work has become increasingly challenging. To meet these new challenges, Mikhail needed formal training.

The training that best met his needs was offered through a partnership between the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and the Emily Carr School of Art and Design. It is a two-year program crammed into one, where students learn about technical aspects of graphic arts and project management essentials.

To get assistance with the training costs, Mikhail’s employer submitted an application to the Stó:Lo Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training (SASET) office. SASET is the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) agreement-holder that serves his community.

ASETS is part of a government-wide approach to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit people secure meaningful and long-term employment. The Strategy focuses on supporting demand-driven skills training and on fostering partnerships with the private sector and the provinces and territories, with an emphasis on accountability and results.

Initially, Mikhail was apprehensive about being in class surrounded by people he didn’t know. He was the only First Nations participant in the group, which also raised his level of anxiety. Gradually, as he got to know his fellow students and started exploring the world of graphic arts, Mikhail discovered that he had a lot of creative potential; he just hadn’t learned how to tap into it.

The technical training at BCIT has already increased Mikhail’s efficiency in using the InDesign software program. Meanwhile, his experience at Emily Carr has opened a whole new world when it comes to understanding, developing, and interpreting layouts and designs. The opportunity to explore creative processes through art has boosted Mikhail’s confidence and laid a solid foundation from which to further develop and improve his skills.

Mikhail is grateful for the opportunity. He says it has opened doors and that he would not have been able to take the training without the funding supports. He is very excited about his future and encourages others to pursue their educational goals. He is also looking forward to creating a portfolio of his work as a way of reflecting on his progress, documenting his projects, and looking forward to a future of continuous learning.

For more information, please visit ASETS.

Medical Laboratory Assistant: One great choice

Shana Mann overcame her self-doubts and completed a program that led to a rewarding new career in medical science.

Read this story: Medical Laboratory Assistant: One great choice

February 20, 2014

Winnipeg, Manitoba—There was a time in Shana Mann's life when she felt trapped by a lack of career options and low self-confidence. Through hard work, and with encouragement from her teachers and support from the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), she overcame her self-doubts and completed a program that led to a rewarding new career in medical science.

Shana wanted a better life for herself, but even more for her daughter. After seeing a cousin complete a program at Neeginan Institute and start to build a new life, Shana was inspired to explore her own opportunities. An interest in science led her to the Medical Laboratory Assistant program, which she successfully completed in . Shana now works in a laboratory at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, and she is considering taking additional training to become a medical laboratory technologist.

With the assistance of one of the many organizations funded by ASETS, Shana first identified the training she needed to achieve her goals. She was then able to access the support and training required at Neeginan Institute with funding for her education, also provided by ASETS.

ASETS is a federal program that helps First Nations, Métis and Inuit people secure meaningful employment. ASETS focuses on supporting demand-driven skills development and on fostering partnerships with the private sector and the provinces and territories, with an emphasis on accountability and results. With the program's support, approximately 14 000 to 16 000 Aboriginal people will find jobs each year.

Employment and Social Development Canada has invested $1.68 billion in the ASETS program, which will run until . A network of 85 Aboriginal organizations develops and delivers programs and services at the local level that help Aboriginal clients get the skills they need to participate in the labour market. Neeginan Institute of Applied Technology is the post-secondary training division of one of those organizations, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development Inc. Shana recommends Neeginan Institute's Medical Laboratory Assistant course to anyone interested in a career in medical science.

Taking on the challenge of furthering her education gave Shana not only new career options, but also more confidence and optimism. Her rediscovered joy of learning and tackling challenges has also helped her daughter. Shana feels that the two of them are now closer, and she notes that her daughter's science grades have improved.

"Where you stand today is a direct result of the choices you have made," says Shana. "Imagine how far one great choice can take you."

For more information, please visit ASETS.

Dreams do come true

Iris John is now a role model for First Nations people in her community. Most importantly, she is a true role model for her children.

Read this story: Dreams do come true Image of Iris John

January 30, 2014

Vancouver Island, British Columbia- Yes, dreams do come true. But it takes more than just wishing upon a star. This is something Iris John knows well. For as long as she can remember, this young woman from Ahousaht First Nation had a cherished dream of her own: a dream of working in a bank.

Born and raised in Ahousaht, located on Flores Island off the west coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., Iris was guided by family and cultural teachings her whole life.

After high school, she moved away from home and began taking short certificate courses. She upgraded her skills at North Island College and in time participated in more complex training programs. She worked many different jobs while working toward her goal—as a janitor, a substitute teacher, a chambermaid, a cashier and a garden department attendant. She even worked in a portrait studio. All along, she appreciated the valuable work experience and transferable job skills she was gaining.

However, her journey also had its share of struggles. In the past few years, Iris became a single parent to three children, and was also in a major car accident.

Fortunately, she was not alone. Her support system was there to help her stay strong and focused on her dreams. As her granny Trudy always said, "Things will happen that could set you back in life but they don't have to. It's all up to you to choose to keep moving forward and go after your dreams." Her children were also a constant source of inspiration and motivation. Every day, they would ask: "Mom, do you have work today?"

The Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program (NETP) and Ineo Employment Services (Port Alberni) were also important supports, helping her through these difficult times. The NETP, an Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) Agreement Holder on Vancouver Island, has been by her side for many years now. Even after Iris completed the Kutiic Program in , a seven-week program which teaches participants the importance of setting goals, the NETP's staff continued to support her in many ways as she kept on moving forward.

Finally, Iris' dream came true. Iris is now working part time in a trainee position at a banking firm. How did she land her dream job? Armed with the skills and confidence gained through her education and experiences, she was able to walk into the bank where she wanted to work and ask to speak to the person in charge of hiring. Soon after, she completed their in-house training and started job shadowing. Now, only a few short months into her new job, she has already taken on more responsibility.

When asked what she enjoys the most about her new career, Iris says "Everything!" She appreciates the chance to learn, to take on new challenges, to meet new people and to work with a friendly team and supportive manager.

Thanks to her confidence, motivation, perseverance and hard work, Iris is now a role model for First Nations people in her community. Most importantly, she is a true role model for her children. They understand the importance of being happy, setting goals and working to achieve them.

Iris' story proves that, with determination and support, dreams do come true. With family and support agencies by her side, her journey on the path to success continues.

ASETS supports over 85 Aboriginal organizations throughout Canada that deliver skills training and support services to prepare First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to succeed in the workforce.

For more information, please visit ASETS.

Welder has positive outlook

The Neeginan Institute of Applied Technology provided James Boss with the opportunity to train for a new career, and the positive attitude at the Institute let him help not only himself, but others as well.

Read this story: Welder has positive outlook Image of James Boss

Winnipeg, Manitoba—After learning the welding trade at the Neeginan Institute of Applied Technology in Winnipeg, James Boss was hired as a welder at Champion Iron Works. The federal Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) provided funding to the Institute to develop and deliver programs to help Aboriginal people like James obtain training and develop the skills they need to enter the job market.

ASETS is part of a government-wide approach to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit people secure sustainable and meaningful employment. The Strategy focuses on supporting demand-driven skills development and on fostering partnerships with the private sector and the provinces and territories, with an emphasis on accountability and results.

James was motivated to learn a trade after having lost his job with a retail company. "By attending the training program," says James, "I was able to help not only myself, but others, by having a positive outlook. This program is not a stepping stone but more like an escalator; once you move forward, it doesn't make sense to go back."

James says he would encourage other people to apply for the Canadian Welding Bureau program offered through the Neeginan Institute. "Everyone at Neeginan is so positive that you can't help but soak it up."

More recently, James was hired by the Wuskwatim Hydro Dam in Northern Manitoba, which represents a significant boost in his career. Success stories likes James' prove that the ASETS program is making a difference in Aboriginal employment. It is expected that ASETS will result in approximately 14 000 to 16 000 jobs each year.

Through Employment and Skills Development Canada, the federal government has invested $1.68 billion in the ASETS program, which will run until . A network of over 80 Aboriginal service delivery organizations develop and deliver programs and services at the local level to help Aboriginal clients get the skills they need to participate in the labour market.

For more information, please visit ASETS.

Aboriginal welder finds a new world of opportunities

In addition to welding, Lucien Ledoux works with First Nations communities in order to help bridge the gap between the construction industry and the community. He attributes his success to CAHRD and to funding support from ASETS.

Read this story: Aboriginal welder finds a new world of opportunities Image of Lucien Ledoux

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Lucien Ledoux is an Aboriginal welder employed with Running Deer Resources in Manitoba. His success was made possible through the federal Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), which provided funding support to the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resources Development (CAHRD), a non-profit organization that delivers Aboriginal labour market programs through job creation partnerships and skills development training.

ASETS is part of a government-wide approach to help First Nations, Métis and Inuit people secure sustainable and meaningful employment. This strategy focuses on supporting demand-driven skills development; fostering partnerships with the private sector and the provinces and territories; and putting emphasis on accountability and results. ASETS helps Aboriginal people like Lucien to secure sustainable and meaningful employment.

In addition to welding, Lucien works with First Nations communities in order to help bridge the gap between the construction industry and the community. He also tries to be a role model for Aboriginal youth and was selected along with four other delegates from across Canada to speak on behalf of Aboriginal youth at an Aboriginal mining conference. He attributes his success to CAHRD and to funding support from ASETS.

"Being certified [as a welder] has allowed me opportunities I would not have had otherwise", says Lucien. "My life has now become structured and I find things more valuable to me know because I earned them." He says although being a welder is a hard and dangerous job, "there is a sense of accomplishment when you know something you built will be standing long after you are gone." He notes that his family is very proud of his accomplishments, which he says have made them strive for more in their own lives.

Through Employment and Skills Development Canada, the federal government has invested $1.6 billion in the ASETS program to be delivered over five years, and is working with partners across the country to ensure that Aboriginal people get the skills they need to participate in economic opportunities.

For more information, please visit ASETS.

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