Baby Claire, Dave and I have arrived in Baker Lake (or Qamani’tuaq), Nunavut, our home for the next 3 months.
PMC has been been doing professional development training for the Government of Nunavut and other Nunavut and northern organizations for the last six years. However, the Baker Lake Project (see more info here) is the first of its kind. The target participants are people who may have never worked so there is a great need for both training and work experience opportunities. PMC is striving to provide both through the 12-week training program and developing a social enterprise for recycled clothing and toys in Baker Lake.
Which is why I packed up my family and took the long journey from Ottawa to Baker Lake to deliver the training program.
Baker Lake, by the way, is the closest community to the geographic centre of Canada. It is the only inland Inuit community on the shores of a massive lake. It is on the path of the caribou migration and the Inuit here are caribou people.
We put out a call for people with disabilities in Baker Lake to apply to participate in the program. From the 27 applications, our team has selected 16 people to participate in the program and with initial assessments completed, the training program has begun in Baker. The participants have a wide range of abilities and disabilities. They have impressed me from day one with their eagerness, their motivation to find work as well as their hunger for new knowledge and experiences in spite of the barriers that they face. We have begun the process of engaging with the community to build awareness of our project, strengthen working relationships and increase the chances that our participants can find meaningful employment following their graduation from this program.
Did you know that people with disabilities are loyal to their jobs and turn over less than people without disabilities? And that people with disabilities are reported to work in a safer manner than people without disabilities? Mark Wafer, owner of several Tim Horton’s franchises in Toronto, reports that he has never had to fill out an injury report for an employee with disabilities even though he has hundreds of disabled employees. He also says that his advice to other employers is to hire people with disabilities because you will be amazed at what they are able to do. They may just turn out to be your best employee. They may end up inspiring or leading others.
Our Baker Lake group is champing at the bit for work experience. On Day 1 they taught me how to bake bannock. Just a week into the training they are already an amazing team, supporting one another, working hard to reach their goals.
Until next time. Ma’na, Qujannamik, Thank you.
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