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Project teaches construction skills, improves community infrastructure

·3 min read

A project in Taykwa Tagamou Nation is teaching basic construction skills while improving infrastructure in the community.

Taykwa Tagamou Nation (TTN) Employment and Training, the TTN community operations department, Northern College Training Division and Indigenous hub Keepers of the Circle have partnered for a community carpentry program.

The program was developed by Cherilyn Archibald, an employment and training co-ordinator at TTN, and Kelly Lamontagne, a program co-ordinator at Northern College.

It's provided through Skilled Trades Training Across Rural Sections of Ontario (STTARS).

During the six-week co-ed program in Taykwa Tagamou Nation, 12 participants are helping the operations department in basic carpentry skills.

“I think it really empowers them when they’re out in the work field, they really like carpentry,” Archibald said.

The participants have already built two patios, a ramp and bins needed around the community. The plan is also to build a gazebo to cover the sweat lodge at a community cultural site and a gazebo at the community playground.

“Infrastructure in our First Nations is always beneficial to the community, to the people that live there. Because not everybody has the means to build their own stuff, so it helps our elders, community members, safety-wise,” Archibald said.

There are three carpenters who are working with the students in the field.

Before putting their skills to use in the field, participants took the safety training and working at heights training provided by the college.

They also took a CCC (Culture, Confidence, Competence) pre-employment training program provided by Keepers of the Circle.

The training takes 180 hours to complete and can be taken online or in-person, depending on the pandemic restrictions.

“It’s going back to rely on cultural wisdom and skills you would normally have prior to the interruption that residential schools caused. To be confident in who you are,” said Arlene Hache, the hub’s executive director. “We find participants who gain more confidence and knowledge are much better employees and are much more prepared to extend themselves to new learning opportunities and to decision-making.”

The CCC program was initially designed for Indigenous women to mitigate their exclusion from non-traditional jobs like mining. Over the years, the hub has trained more than 600 Indigenous women in northern Ontario, 76 per cent of whom found employment.

At the end of the program, participants will receive a certificate of completion from Northern College.

During the last week of the program, Lamontagne will be going to the community to speak one-on-one with the participants about their experience and their future goals.

“We’ll sit down with them, talk about their experience, figure out if it’s something they want to pursue as their career. Or maybe they decided they’ve had experience and that wasn’t really for them,” Lamontagne said. “We’re going to find out where they want to go and how we can assist them in getting there.”

A similar project between the college, Keepers of the Circle and an Indigenous non-profit Wahstaywin is taking place northeast of Cochrane. The first intake of students finished their work last week. The second intake will be completing the rest of the cabins during the winter months.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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