Montreal Lake students ready for the office

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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With employment readiness their ultimate goal, a recent office education course proved successful, with eight students graduating at SIAST on Friday.

 

“We want to help them out as much as we can so they can succeed and tackle any barriers,” co-ordinator Larry Bird said.

A joint effort between Cumberland College, SIAST and Montreal Lake Cree Nation, all eight graduates have been bused in five days a week since early January to take part in the program.

“There was a lot of interest,” Bird said of those living on reserve. “I think this program is needed, because a lot of these students are qualified to work in the office, and there’s kind of a need back home and in other areas.”

Graduate Jacqueline Halkett said that the program has offered her the job skills she’s needed to get back into the labour market after a stint as a stay-at-home mother.

“What attracted me is that I had done a little bit of office work previously to this,” she said. “I knew how to answer phones and work the fax machines and stuff like that, but I wanted more insight on how to do other things.”

“It was very informative for all of us,” fellow graduate Shanna Ermine said. “Some of them didn’t even know how to operate a computer!”

Now, she said that she’s confident that all of the program’s eight graduates will find employment with relative ease, either on reserve or in Prince Albert.

“The education that you attain at this level is such an initial part. I don’t mean to marginalize what you’ve done, however it’s one step towards a goal. Lawrence Joseph

Although the eight students celebrated their graduation on Friday, the program will start up again with its second phase in September.

Bird said that students who haven’t found employment that meet their personal needs by then will be encouraged to re-enrol.

Keynote speaker to Friday’s graduation ceremony was past Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Lawrence Joseph.

“The buffalo used to be our sustenance -- our key to successful living,” he told the graduates.

“Well, they’re gone now. Those days are gone -- they’re finished. So, today I acknowledge those people who try to get education, and it is your right to get that.

“The education that you attain at this level is such an initial part. I don’t mean to marginalize what you’ve done, however it’s one step towards a goal.

“It’s an investment not only for yourself, and an investment for your family.”

 

Organizations: Cumberland College, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief

Geographic location: Montreal Lake, Prince Albert

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