New MSFN career centre offers hope
by Derek Cornet
A new career centre on the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation hopes to connect band members with employment.
Spearheaded by councillor Donovan Fineblanket, close to $15,000 was spent to renovate an existing building on the reserve for the service. Along with the upgrading of offices and the acquisition of computers, the exterior was changed and a deck and new signage was installed. Fineblanket said the facility was used as a justice office in the past, but during the last couple years changes have slowly occurred.
“This is a long-term investment,” Fineblanket remarked. “We want other First Nations to copy what we’re doing. They only way we can lower the welfare rate is to get people training for jobs.”
All the hard work came front and centre Feb. 12 when the public had the opportunity to tour the centre. The day began with a pipe ceremony and was followed by the presentation of displays and a run down of what could be found there. A ribbon cutting was also held to formally open the facility.
Chief Richard Ben has high hopes of the centre and said in five years he’d like to see it become an institution for neighbouring First Nations to also access. He noted the band talked about the project four years ago, but finally got it off the ground once they were able to secure funding.
“It’s all about teaching people there’s a big world out there and to be confident,” Ben said. “A lot of the time people are scared. They’re embarrassed they can’t write a résumé or know who to talk to about finding a job.”
At the career centre, Ben said people would have access to a post-secondary coordinator and a template to assist them in creating a résumé. People will also be able to use a fax machine, a photocopier and other equipment. Ben went on to say, whenever he’s visited the facility during the last few weeks, he has typically seen around eight people at any given time using the services.
With the centre being located next to the band office, Ben added it’s easily accessible to band members. He also noted the reserve has a good relationship with northern work camps and, if people used the centre, band officials would also have a better idea on who to call about taking a job when they become available.
“I’m really happy and excited because, when people go in, they’ll have all the tools to succeed,” Ben said.
Before the ribbon was cut, elder William Ratfoot addressed the audience about how important it is to utilize the centre. He explained, when he was young, there weren’t as many opportunities as there are today and that he didn’t finish high school. Ratfoot said the centre symbolizes the good future the elders have been talking about.
“It’s a good day for me to see this,” he announced. “I often dreamt about this and talked about it with our fellow elders. Some are still here and others have passed on. I know they’re looking down on us from the heavens on this day.”