In January, PMC launched two more Pre-Employment Programs in Coral Harbour and Pangnirtung, Nunavut. The goal of these programs is to provide training on basic employment competencies to equip Inuit who face barriers to employment with confidence, emotional tools, and skills that will assist them in identifying, obtaining, and retaining part-time or full-time work.
In Coral Harbour, interviews were conducted and 18 participants were selected. Their ages range from 18 to 49 years; most have been unemployed for over a year. Despite multiple barriers to employment, the participants have been motivated to learn and develop their employability skills.
While there are differences in personal interests, age and life experiences, participants have succeeded in creating and maintaining a supportive and safe space. Each day at the beginning of class, the check-in exercise has naturally evolved into a vibrant 20-minute discussion on current events on the local, regional and global scale. Participants are keen to ask, learn and share thoughts on various topics. They are also keen to discuss issues from a cultural perspective, recognizing traditions and values. The older participants are able to provide historical knowledge on the community that are unknown to the youth. This inter-generational circle has led to fruitful discussions. One participant said, “I have known these people all my life but here [in the classroom] I am able to see them in a different way. It’s nice.” Another one observed, “It’s nice how all of us are getting along.”
Participants have identified four activities: hunting, igloo building, a bannock cooking class, and story-telling by Elders, as the program’s cultural activities. Culture-based teaching is a component of the program which will be delivered by Elders and hunters grounded in Inuit culture.
In January, the group welcomed two guest speakers. The first was the Manager of the local Co-op Store, who spoke to the group about workplace values, tips for maintaining a job and the application process for working at the Co-op. He also shared the inspirational story of the path he took as an immigrant in Canada, leaving behind his family in India to look for more opportunities and a better life.
The second guest speaker was an outreach officer from the Canada Revenue Agency, who outlined important tax benefits and eligibility criteria for accessing tax credits. She also notified participants of an upcoming volunteer opportunity with the CRA as a tax agent in Coral Harbour, assisting community members to fill out their tax returns.
The group has scheduled additional guest speakers, including Agnico Eagle Mines Community Coordinator for Coral Harbour, Coral Harbour Community Support Worker, and Elders for storytelling, and other activities for the second half of the program, which ends on March 29.
In Pangnirtung, the program initially began with 13 participants. During the third and fourth week of January three applicants who were away for medical reasons returned to the community and were accepted into the program. They were dedicated to stay after class to catch up on missed material so they would be in sync with their fellow classmates. Currently, there are a total of 16 participants, between 20 and 68 years of age.
Despite the barriers that participants face, they are eager to learn, gain new experience and build their skills and confidence. All of them want to find stable work or be enrolled in a school program to provide for their families and be more involved in their community. There is a wide range of interests and abilities within the group, and they express enthusiasm and motivation to achieve either their professional or academic goals, with a willingness to grow and learn.
Activities completed in January include: opening bank accounts, a two-day workshop on Financial Literacy, learning about communication styles, stress management, and conflict resolution, a lateral violence workshop, goal-setting, a tour of Uqqamiut Weaving and Print Shop.
In addition, guest speakers from Nutrition North, PRA Inc and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada came into the classroom to speak to participants.
Cultural activities are planned for the second part of the program with the involvement of Elders, including making seal skin mitts, building an igloo, ice fishing and story telling.
With team work and resolution, the participants have decided to fund raise for the non-profit Inuit Ilagiit Society, specifically the Society’s soup kitchen and food bank. The Hamlet Office of Pangnirtung has generously donated the community hall for the fundraiser. The day-long fundraiser will include donations from the community for a Loonie/Toonie table and a Cake Walk.
Site tours are planned for Parks Canada, Baffin Fisheries fish plant, Government of Nunavut Offices in Pangnirtung, and the Armarlik Elder Centre.
Additional guest speakers are scheduled for the second half of the program, and include; the PASS Coordinator, the Arctic College, the Economic Development Officer, a Career Development Officer, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, Peregrine Diamonds Inc., and the Inuit Ilagiit Society.
These opportunities will help participants identify local support resources that they can use in their job search and make connections with potential employers or advocates. This program will also end on March 29, 2018.