By Glenda McCarthy
The Miawpukek First Nations government has actively fostered a culture of life-long learning for its community members by developing a long-standing relationship with College of the North Atlantic. The band council meets regularly with Grand Falls-Windsor campus staff to discuss its priorities and to identify how training solutions can
improve the skill set, quality of employment, and quality of life through responsive training programs. The council focuses its energy on efforts that will benefit its trades staff, band council, and targeted economic sectors within the community.
A customized training plan was developed for the Small Business Development training program to give interested community members and council staff the knowledge and skills necessary to assess a small business idea. The curriculum also included the competencies needed to develop a business plan, and the confidence and network required to move the idea from inception to operation.
“Induction of training as a key component of economics is indicative of the forward movement of the community,” says Judy Dobson, business development officer at Grand Falls-Windsor campus, adding another forward movement is the community’s focus on safety as an integral part of the workday.
“From standardized safety certifications for all the trades staff to proactive, customized programs on accident and injury prevention, the community is committed to getting everyone home at the end of the day safe and sound. By leading through example, the band council’s focus on safety-mindedness flows to the entry level workers in their everyday activities.”
She says continuous learning is also a priority for long-term employees for skills enhancement. “Last year the government recognized the need for updated officeo administration skills. In today’s office environment, technology is constantly being updated,” Judy says. “The band administration team contacted the college and worked in partnership to develop a list of offerings customized to the band’s environment.”
Students were offered a suite of courses, ranging from software training to business writing to minutes. “This program was hugely successful due to the commitment of the
students and the flexibility of the band administration to provide their staff with the time, tools, and support to upgrade their skill set.” The younger generations have also adopted that same level of commitment to their training. The Stride sisters have deep roots in the Conne River community. After the 21-year-old twins graduated from the
Office Administration program at CNA, they put their skills to good use in their hometown.
Kristina remains very much involved in the Conne River community as she is a member of the Mi’kmaq Maliseet Atlantic Youth Council and is employed as an administrative assistant with Netukulimk Fishers Ltd. She took part in the Assembly of First Nations 4th National Youth Summit in Saskatoon, Sask. in 2013 and says she’s appreciative of the opportunities she has had.
Her sister, Kathlena is employed at the self-government office of the Miawpukek First Nations and says that while the road to completing the program wasn’t easy, she is glad she stuck with it. “Never give up on what you want in life, and never doubt yourself,” Kathlena says. “Personally, when I first attended CNA I thought I was
a lost cause and wasn’t ever going to go anywhere in life, but I was proven wrong. There was a time I wanted to drop out but knew if I did I wouldn’t be where I am today. Office Administration Executive is a two-year program that changed my life. I believe with a lot of patience, hard work, and studying anyone can thrive to make a different and even prove yourself wrong if your head is in the right place.”