A new partnership between the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre and Vale was launched on Aug 6 in Thompson. The project named the Employment First North project focuses on how to get more urban aboriginal people hired by Vale. “Part of the project is to look at what happens when you apply to Vale, and looking at their procedures, and looking at building the partnership with Vale, and how we can help them hire urban aboriginal people,” Anita Campbell, executive rirector for the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship centre explained.
There are four goals for this project, says Campbell. The first one is to increase economic participation of the urban aboriginal population in the city of Thompson. The second is to increase the partnerships and increase communication about how to bridge the employment gap. The third is to address the barriers that exist for urban aboriginal people in the workforce, and the final goal is to establish sustainable practices to move towards social enterprise.
Ryan Land, manager of corporate affairs and organizational development with Vale’s Manitoba operations, says the company has a goal over time to become more representative of the regional demographic but doesn’t have the expertise in helping people get ready for a high-level industrial career, and he says that’s why this partnership is great. “This is focusing on the next group of people who need some investment made in them, whether it is upgrading or work experience, or counselling support, or life coaching, just to get them workplace ready. Not ready today doesn’t mean not ready forever.”
Campbell says this project is funded by the federal government with funding that was announced last February. “It was part of the reallocation of the Urban Aboriginal Strategy dollar, so the federal government announced one area being the community capacity support, which is core-like funding, and the second being within urban partnerships.”
During the launch the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre was full of hopeful participants for the project. Campbell says there have been staff hired for this project, and other hopeful participants can contact the centre or apply online once the online application is put on the website.
With Vale hoping to represent the regional demographic, Land stated that before the Northern Employment Strategy launched a few years ago, 15-17 per cent of workers were self-declared aboriginal, and after the strategy launched they’re already over 20 per cent. “We identify those barriers, and they have been indentified all over the place, but the TEDWG [Thompson Economic Diversification Working Group] process is one of the areas where we looked at barriers like education and training and housing, and this program seeks to address some of those barriers.”
The Employment First North Project is free and is geared towards urban aboriginal peoples. Campbell says they’re looking for other employers in Thompson to join the partnership, and any employers looking to hire urban aboriginal people can contact the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre.