Fort William First Nation is looking to create more post-secondary education opportunities in the community through a Memorandum of Understanding with Confederation College.
“This is a stepping stone in the right direction for us as we keep working to try to achieve positive education systems and try to achieve positive role models in our community,” says Fort William Chief Peter Collins. “We’re hoping this MOU leads to a great partnership, not only with Confederation College but our partners in the area. What we’d like to do is create what we consider is a community college tech hub in Fort William.”
Collins says the community is considering a couple of locations for the community college tech hub. The goal is to provide education opportunities in the community to train and prepare community members for job-ready opportunities.
“The other thing is the transportation for getting them into and out of the school,” Collins says. “The cost of going into the city to go to school is pretty stringent some times, so if we can provide that education here in the community, that would help the cause for them and help the cause for us as we move in that direction.”
Collins says there are some projects in the works that would potentially provide opportunities for graduates from the community college tech hub, such as an Elders centre and a long-term care facility.
“It’s a step in the right direction for us as a community,” Collins says. “Hopefully our brothers and sisters from around the north or around Superior, if they decide they want to be a part of it then we can work together to achieve those goals.”
Fort William and Confederation College representatives signed the MOU on Nov. 9 to build on their existing relationship to create new and significant opportunities for Indigenous learners in the First Nation and beyond.
“The project that is being created here in Fort William First Nation is just the beginning stage of meaningful opportunities for our people,” Collins says. “It is a chance for those who have fallen through the cracks of the traditional education system to set goals, encouraging them to pursue post-secondary education and trades training. I believe strongly that education is the foundation to build positive life changes for themselves and their families. At Fort William First Nation we look forward to working alongside Confederation College in this important endeavour.”
The MOU formalizes ongoing efforts to offer community-based education and training in a blended format delivered in Fort William with programming and support from Confederation College.
“This latest agreement will strengthen our existing partnership with Fort William First Nation to create additional pathways and supports for Indigenous learners,” says Jim Madder, president of Confederation College. “We will continue to bring our educational opportunities to their home communities and work together to provide a customized learning experience to meet the unique needs of Indigenous students, while also working to close a growing skills gap in our region.”
The MOU encourages both parties to identify and pursue mutually-beneficial opportunities and partnerships to help address the education and training needs of Fort William members and enhance communications to improve labour market participation. The agreement also facilitates additional consultation and participation from Fort William members during Confederation College policy development in the area of Indigenous education, as well as encourage the establishment of additional scholarships and bursaries for Fort William students pursuing post-secondary education, particularly in the area of skilled trades.
Fort William has also signed MOUs with Cambrian College and Seven Generations Education Institute.