Carrier Sekani Family Services (CSFS) has brought to Burns Lake a program they have been successfully running in Prince George for the last 15 years.
“Because of the success in Prince George, CSFS has been lobbying, writing proposals for years, to get this on the ground,” said Mary Teegee, Director of Child and Family Services for CSFS. “We knew that it would work in Burns Lake.”
The program first branched out to Burns Lake in 2014 in a pilot project which saw 20 candidates complete the nine-week program. Of the 20, four participants found full-time employment and two returned to school for a trades program.
The Burns Lake bridging to employment program, sponsored by the CSFS and the ministry of jobs, tourism and skills training, is in full swing now with 16 participants registered for a 10-week program. The program started on Nov. 30, 2015, and participants have been learning employment readiness and on-the-job skills. The program also focuses on life skills which enhance a person’s fundamental skills for employment.
“Through this program they are able to empower themselves and look to a strong future,” said Teegee. “That’s what we’re trying to do with this program, to empower individuals so we can empower our nation.”
John Patrick, Bridging to Employment Coordinator and Life Skills Coach, explained that the program is designed to be more culturally specific, with detailed lessons in language teaching, hunting, trapping, bead work and Aboriginal artistry.
The participants will also take part in a two-week job placement, where they learn valuable on-the-job experience with local merchants. Patrick said there are no businesses lined up for job placement yet because the participants have yet to decide what they’d like to do and where they would like to work.
The grand finale of the program will be a potlatch ceremony hosted by the graduating class and local hereditary chiefs. Patrick said the entire community will be invited to take part in the ceremony. The program is expected to finish up on Feb. 19, 2016, and the next class has a tentative start date for March 21, 2016. Contact John Patrick at 250-692-3997.