On Friday, September 30th, to honour the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation, NPower Canada will be observing a social media blackout to create space for Indigenous voices and organizations. NPower Canada acknowledges our commitment to Truth & Reconciliation, and the work that still needs to be done to create a more inclusive and equitable Canada.
Last year, September 30th was recognized for the first time in Canada as a federal holiday, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to commemorate the traumatic legacy of residential schools. According to the Government of Canada website, “the day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.”
NPower Canada observes September 30th as a time for participants and staff to reflect on Canada’s troubled history, and consider how we can better support our Indigenous staff, participants, partners, and wider community, and will be closed on Friday, September 30th.
Our actions seek to affirm our commitment to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada, specifically call to action #7, which speaks to the need “to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.”
As part of our own commitment to Truth & Reconciliation, NPower Canada is committed to the further co-creation of meaningful and inclusive programs with Indigenous partners, and ensuring our staff is equipped with the knowledge and training to do so. All staff have completed a training designed by Indigenous Awareness Canada this year, aligning with call-to-action #57 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and we continue to practice equity and inclusivity in the work we conduct on a daily basis.
While September 30th is an important day to commemorate, at NPower Canada, we are committed to creating a more inclusive society 365 days of the year. In the past year, we have continued to consult with First Nations, Métis and Inuit staff and partners to better learn how our organization and programs can be adapted to suit the unique needs of Indigenous peoples. We have deepened our partnership with Indspire, Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, and Miskanawah, to offer our Indigenous participants holistic wrap-around supports. As part of our commitment to offer impactful wrap-around supports, we now have a dedicated staff member as the Manager of Wraparound Support, a role we introduced this year.
We continue to engage in conversations with Indspire, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Metis Council of BC and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business on how NPower Canada can support greater Indigenous participation in the innovation and technology economy.
We also established a partnership with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Employment and Social Development Canada to provide employment opportunities for our Indigenous participants. The federal IT Apprenticeship Program for Indigenous Peoples offers Indigeneous participants 24 months of paid on-the-job learning, at $31.04 an hour. Our alumni are encouraged to apply for the apprenticeship program, and already, five of our Indigenous alumni have been hired by ESDC.
In most cases, the two-year paid apprenticeship can be completed remotely, enabling Indigenous participants to remain in their communities, and most apprenticeships to date have converted to full-time employment with the federal government or have led to private-sector employment.
We have also begun to share our knowledge of our experience collaborating with Indigenous-Serving organizations, and learn from other organizations conducting similar work. In May, Lisa Moon, NPower Canada’s Regional Director of Alberta, presented her session “Making Space: A framework for successful partnerships with Indigenous serving organizations” at The Alberta Career Development Conference, and in October will be presenting her session “Closing the Digital Divide: Successful Partnerships with Indigenous-Serving Organizations” at First Work’s Futures 2022 Conference.
Through consultation and knowledge-sharing, we have been able to adapt our programs, and attract more Indigenous job-seekers to our programs. We are thrilled that we have enrolled the largest number of Indigenous participants into our September cohort and strive to continue to help this underserved group.
NPower Canada acknowledges that we are not experts and are committed to continuously learning about the unique and specific needs of Indigenous communities from Indigenous peoples and organizations. While we have taken steps towards reconciliation, we understand there is still more work to be done, and will continue to prioritize initiatives that work towards ongoing reconciliation.