A national program to help Indigenous people with literacy and job skills is expanding into Ontario.
The Ontario Native Women’s Association will be one of the hubs for the Indigenous Workplace Learning Model pilot project, which ONWA Executive Director Cora-Lee McGuire-Cyrette feels is a good investment.
“Especially when we’re looking at investing with Indigenous women, and supporting women here specifically in Thunder Bay where we’re definitely needing more resources,”
McGuire-Cyrette adds she also sees a need for more ways to empower women to take up leadership roles.
Elaine Cairns is the Executive Director of the Further Education Society, which began the federally-funded $2.7 million pilot in Alberta last year.
She explains they’re in the early stages of working with ONWA to plan how the program will look.
“We’re hoping that they can help identify partners, be a partner themselves,” Cairn says, adding they’ll also explore how to give Indigenous women the supports to take the lead in the pilot.
She says the program currently works with employers to help them understand what’s needed in terms of essential literacy skills for job-seekers or those who are under-employed, and how to recruit and retain those job seekers.
It gives Indigenous people seeking work the skills to get good jobs and succeed at work.
It’s being led regionally and nationally by Indigenous groups.
Organizers hope to start delivering it at ONWA’s locations, including Thunder Bay, within six months.
It’s projected to help help 330 people, including 140 women in our community.
Patty Hajdu feels the pilot will help more Indigenous people find and keep good jobs.
The Employment Minister made the announcement about the program’s expansion on Friday.
She admits adult literacy is a topic close to her heart, having worked for nine years in that field.
“The foundational skills of reading and writing is integral to moving forward in people’s careers, and earning potentials,” Hajdu points out. “I spoke a lot about levelling the playing field–we know that literacy is one of the things that holds people back, and that in Canada we have a one-in-five rate of adult illiteracy.”