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Skills program building First Nations capacity

Thursday November 22, 2012
Grace Winter/Matawa First Nations Management
Matawa First Nations Management CEO David Paul Achneepineskum cuts the ribbon alongside Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services staff during the launch of the Aboriginal Skills Advancement Pilot Program on Nov. 14.

Members of Matawa First Nation communities can advance their education and training thanks to a new training program.

On Nov. 14, Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS) officially launched the Aboriginal Skills Advancement Pilot Program (ASAPP), a program aimed at advancing the skills, training and education of Matawa community members.

It will offer academic upgrading, basic certifications such as First Aid and WHMIS, driver licensing, chainsaw certificates, CPA training and more.

“KKETS has a plan in place, supported by our chiefs, that will train our peoples in basic skills such as literacy and numeracy, GED, life skills and pre-apprenticeship training,” said KKETS board president Elsie MacDonald. “We believe that this program is going to change our people’s lives for the better.”

The program was developed so that communities can capitalize on opportunities from Ring of Fire developments, MacDonald added.

ASAPP project coordinator Carolyn Zadnik said the program is unique, flexible and geared towards the student.

“We can take our learners from where they are at, to where they want to be by providing the training and help they need to get there,” she said.

ASAPP has been operating since September and currently has 39 people enrolled in the program. KKETS hopes to train 100 people by September 2013, when the pilot program ends.

Most of the program is being delivered at the new KKETS facility in Thunder Bay, located at 28 Cumberland St. North.

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) regional director Jim Adams said discussions about developing an “innovative” training program for the Matawa First Nations began a year ago.

“We wanted to explore ways to respond to employment opportunities and address the educational needs of the Aboriginal people of the north,” Adams said. “With this pilot program, we hope to see grand results and lengthen the program as need be.”

MTCU has committed $1.6 million to the pilot program and Adams said ASAPP will be assessed on an ongoing basis to determine if it should be extended beyond next September.

ASAPP was also developed in partnership with Matawa First Nations Management and the Lakehead Adult Education Centre.

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