Innovative project underway for aboriginal employees

Photo: Tommy Attachie (second from right), began the conference by playing a spiritual song with the Doig River Drummers.  – Christine Rumleskie/Energeticcity.ca

A major partnership is underway, to train aboriginals for jobs in Northeastern British Columbia.

The North East Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership Program officially began today, at a ceremony at Stonebridge Hotel in Fort St. John.

The North East Native Advancement Society is teaming up with Oil and gas, mining, forestry and other companies in the area.

The idea is to provide permanent employment by predicting future openings within these companies, and then training aboriginal people to fill them.

Executive Director for the Society, Audrey Sam, says she is confident the ailing economy will not affect employment in the future.

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In May of last year, NENAS was granted 2.3 million dollars from the Federal Government, in support of the "Training to Employment" Partnership Project for Aboriginal people in the Northeast.

The goal of the project is to provide permanent employment for 50-80 aboriginal people, over the next three years. The project is a five stage process, which begins by matching workers with jobs, and ends with ongoing follow-up and support of the clients throughout their career.

Garry Oker, a board member for NENAS, says one of the difficulties for the organization, is preparing aboriginal workers for the culture shock that may lie ahead.

He says NEASEP needs to find the balance between making sure work-training is culturally-relevent, but also preparing workers for the corporate world.

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Encana, Doig River Energy and Dunne Za are some of the initial start-up project partners already on board.

Any companies interested in the partnership, are asked to call Audrey Sam at 250-785-0887, Extension 26.

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