It’s often been said the only constant in life is change, and one Kahnawake woman did just that in the last 12 months, doing a career 180 and finding happiness and professional satisfaction in her work and her new professional life.
When the pandemic shut down her only sources of income last March, former Rail waitress Kristina Glen didn’t know where to turn.
“When the pandemic hit (in March 2020) I was left unemployed,” said Glen, who wasn’t sure what to do with herself for the first part the lockdown before coming across a news item detailing staffing shortages in the health-care sector, which piqued her interest.
Then, in the fall, she came across a job posting at for an assistant to a nurses’ aide at Kateri Memorial Hospital Center (KMHC); she applied, and was hired shortly thereafter in October 2020. Around the same time, she made the decision to go back to school in order to become a full-fledged nurses’ aide.
“I decided to go ahead and go back to school and I went through Tewatohnhi’saktha in order to do it. They guided me through the process and helped me to get organized and I started my studies at the Nova Career Centre in Chateauguay in January of 2021,” she said.
She also received a $1,000 scholarship from the Kateri Memorial Foundation, which helped pay for school and help her get on her way, she added.
Through the winter, spring and summer, Glen studied and worked an internships across the western Monteregie territory – Valleyfield, Chateauguay and Vaudreuil-Dorion, just to name a few spots – but her final internship brought her home to KMHC. It was there, she said, where the magic happened.
“It was like coming home,” she said. “It was just smiles and good feelings and I was glad to be there.”
Literally minutes after she graduated from her professional nurses’ aide program at Nova on October , Glen received the call that would change her life forever.
“I graduated at 3:28 p.m. that day. I know, because I checked my watch when it happened,” she said. “Exactly 10 minutes later I got a call from Kateri asking me to come in for an interview the following Tuesday.”
The rest is history.
“I was coming back to where I wanted to work. It’s always satisfying and it’s just one of the most rewarding jobs I think I could ever do,” she said. “I’m exactly where I want to be.”
Tewatohnhi’saktha Director of Workforce Development Angie Marquis sees stories such Glen’s as a great example of how the organization can help the community and its people – especially in the wake of the pandemic lockdown that forced many in the community to apply for the Kahnawake Emergency Relief Fund (KERM) to help them make ends meet.
“Last year, we wanted to help the people who were on KERM to find jobs and get into new careers. We wanted to encourage them to upgrade their job skills and help them get better job stability,” she said, adding she has had “a good chunk” of people access the Workforce Development program.
“There was, and is still, a lot of uncertainty for people and changing careers comes with a lot of stress. You’re making a huge commitment and we are here to help those people,” Marquis said, estimating that six to eight people – like Glen – have made the transition into more stable careers.
For more information on the Tewatohnhi’saktha Workforce Development Program, visit them online at tewa.ca or by calling 450-638-4280
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase