Future looking solid for GDI

Jason Kerr
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The Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI) held their annual general meeting in Prince Albert on Saturday, and board members say things are looking up.

The Saskatoon-based school has campuses in 10 different Saskatchewan communities, and overall GDI executive director Geordy McCaffrey said the organization is financially healthier than ever.

“This is a really good news year for us,” he said after Monday’s AGM.  “We have a strong financial position.  We have strong programs and services for the Metis community, and I think there’s been a steady trend for the Gabriel Dumont Institute -- we’ve been better and stronger each year.”

GDI had $27,943,693 in revenue this year, and spent a total of $27,419,592, most of it on programming costs and staff wages.  That’s a far cry from the past, where they were funding the entire operation with around $7 million.

McCaffrey said the increased financial support is a positive sign, and they’re eager to take advantage of any opportunities that come around as a result.

“Now our budget is in that $27-28 million range, so we’ve grown by leaps and bounds,” McCaffrey said.

GDI’s Prince Albert campus will see a couple of benefits thanks to the organization’s stronger financial position.  McCaffrey said Prince Albert is an important market for the institution, one they plan to grow in the future.

“I think the path for Prince Albert is we will be steadily growing and adding programs as revenue and finances allow.”

In particular, the institute will begin offering a justice studies program in partnership with the University of Regina.  The new program is scheduled to start this fall, and will allow students to take the certificate or diploma programs in Prince Albert.  Students can also transfer to Regina if they wish, and complete a justice studies degree.

The program will equip students to work in federal and provincial organizations, as well as other community-based initiatives.  McCaffrey said they decided to offer the course in Prince Albert because of the many employment opportunities available after graduation.

“You have provincial, federal and community-based organizations here that are all involved in the justice area, and so employment opportunities, look good.”

McCaffrey added that they a large chunk of the school’s students come from Prince Albert and the surrounding area, so it just made practical sense to grow the campus.

“We have a lot of Metis people in the Prince Albert, and in local communities like Duck Lake, Batoche and all of that area, so we have a good area to draw from.”

Like many post-secondary institutions, the GDI is seeing a large amount of growth in the trades and health sectors.  McCaffrey said their licensed practical nurse program, which trains nurses to work in Prince Albert and other northern communities, has contributed significantly to their growth and graduation rates.

The trades programs have also been successful, due to growth in the construction industry, as well as the rising age of the workforce.

“The average age of a journeyman a couple of years ago was 58 years old, so you can see a lot of people are nearing retirement, and when they retire there are going to be opportunities for young people to come in and fill those vacancies.”

@kerr_jas • jason.kerr@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: Gabriel Dumont Institute, Prince Albert, University of Regina

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Duck Lake

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