Economic reconciliation takes root in southwestern Manitoba


Helping to serve food at ceremonial feasts is the kind of experience that doesn’t usually appear on an Indigenous teen’s resume, but a southwestern Manitoba group is helping young people rethink their approach to job search.

The GAP Youth Outreach Team at the Brandon Friendship Center runs workshops to help Aboriginal youth translate their experiences into employable skills.

« If you’ve spent time in the bush on the ground floor, learning to live on the land, learning to navigate, learning to, you know, assess whether that ground is safe to walk on…how does that relate- does he have a job skill?” said Lisa Noctor, coordinator of GAP, or the Gakina Abinoojiiyag program — an Ojibway name that translates to “all children.”

The youth program, aimed at young people aged 13 to 29, who are most vulnerable to homelessness, is launching resume workshops on Wednesday, where people will sit down with anyone interested in revamping a key job search document .

It’s important to understand « that Indigenous ways of knowing, living and being » are sets of skills that can be shown and demonstrated on resumes, Noctor said.

Noctor sits at the GAP youth outreach kitchen island. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

But employers also need to adjust their hiring practices to recognize Indigenous ways of knowing and living as experiences that make people employable, she said.

This is all part of a larger effort in Brandon aimed at economic reconciliation – the inclusion of Indigenous peoples and communities in economic opportunity.

Assiniboine Community College is working with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to provide tuition-free programs to Aboriginal people living off-reserve in two areas seeking workers: an Agricultural Equipment Operator course and an Applied Skills Certificate in counselling..

« This type of program provides that opportunity for those who are really sitting at home thinking, ‘I’m never going to get the chance to have an education because I can’t afford it, I don’t have the support for that,' » said Michael Cameron, the college’s dean of community development.

An installation from the Tipi Tour Legacy Project is on display Thursday on the Assiniboine Community College campus. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

The programs are part of VAC’s approach to reconciliation. Cameron describes this as a process of reciprocity and a focus on what the post-secondary institution can offer First Nations, which the college hopes will inspire improved community relations.

« These kinds of partnerships, when we work together and collaborate together, is what makes it possible… to provide an educational opportunity for so many people who otherwise probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to get an education, or even to continue their studies, » Cameron said.

Benefits for all of Canada

Economic reconciliation was the subject of a discussion hosted by the Brandon Chamber of Commerce in late 2021.

It looked at basic steps businesses can take to include First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in the workforce, incoming chamber speaker Tanya LaBuick said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected those efforts, she said, but she hopes economic reconciliation will return as a priority for businesses as they hopefully stabilize after several turbulent years.

“Everyone can realize their full potential and shared prosperity,” LaBuick said. « I’m hopeful…that it’s not just a priority for people, but something to look forward to. »

Part of economic reconciliation is opening your mind and acknowledging the impacts of colonization on contemporary society, said Kris Desjarlais, Vice President of the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Council and Director of Indigenous Education for the ACC. .

It is important to recognize how difficult it can be for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people to find meaningful employment when they move from their home communities to urban areas, he said. declared.

There can be culture shock adapting to urban life, compounded by the stigmas, stereotypes and systemic racism that urban Indigenous people face, he said.

Desjarlais recommends that business people take the time to read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to help them understand.

« We’re not making it easy for them to make that transition, » he said. « If, only if, we opened those doors and gave them more opportunities, I think we would have seen changes quite quickly. »

It’s important to recognize inequalities in the workforce and then find ways to close the gaps, he said.

Ultimately, hiring more Indigenous people benefits the whole community, Desjarlais said.

« This not only benefits Indigenous peoples, but all of Canada, » he said. « We are reducing inequality and increasing opportunities for employment, education and wealth creation. »



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