Education is the road to jobs

We are in the age of opportunity. It seems like a strange thing to be saying in this new year, but I believe it to be true.
The “Idle No more” protest that has sprung up across Canada has more people talking about the differences between First Nations’ and non-aboriginal peoples of Canada. We also are talking about the differences between rural communities and urban centres.
As a parent, I realized education was going to be the road map to success for my two sons in whatever their chosen profession was to become. And no doubt it is a road map most parents have chosen for their sons and daughters.
I also realized the chance my sons would remain or return to Fort Frances following their education was minimal. I think that they realized it, too, but both seemed to hope they might find careers that would keep them in this region.
I suspect that less than 1/10th of one percent of all careers in the world can be found here in Rainy River District—and maybe only one percent of all careers can be found in Northern Ontario. We may wish that to be different, but for our children to be successful and have the careers they can enjoy and grow with, it is only possible if they leave the communities in which they were raised.
Remote First Nations also are discovering that for their youth to be successful in the world, education equal to what is found in the towns and communities across Northern Ontario is needed on those remote communities. They also are learning that as parents, they have to provide every encouragement for their children to remain in school and choose some post-secondary training.
It is estimated that 10,000 jobs will be created across the north in the next decade within the mining industry. Most are highly-skilled jobs that require training and education.
And with those jobs in the north, secondary ones will be created in schools, hospitals, social services, and the retail and service industries. Many will be jobs and careers that previously never existed in our communities.
As always, the road to those jobs is through education. And it becomes even more important that parents play a bigger role, keeping their children in school, demanding improved educational opportunities, and playing a more active role in education.
We do not know what will happen with the Resolute mill here but we are learning that coal-fired electrical generating plants are being converted to renewable pellet plants and those pellet plants, when constructed in Atikokan and Thunder Bay, will create new jobs and new employment in the bush.
One only has to look at Lakehead University and the Regional Health Sciences Centre and be excited by the training of doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners and the growth of research in health care.
Again, that is providing more opportunities for our youth to remain in the region.
The opportunities for new jobs and careers are growing in Northwestern Ontario. But to take advantage of those opportunities, youth will have to migrate to the jobs and often commute to remote job sites.
It may not be what we wish, but it is the reality. And as unfortunate as it seems, some communities in Northwestern Ontario will see populations decline.
Others will follow the route of the Arbor Vitaes and Mine Centre and almost totally disappear.
But other centres will grow, and families and children will be attracted to them for the opportunities that are found there.

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