UNFC consolidates employment counselling

Sam Odrowski

The United Native Friendship Centre’s employment counselling unit recently moved into the Circle of Life building, which has brought all of their employment resources under one roof.

Anyone can access the unit for soft services such as interview preparation, creating a resume, and writing a cover letter, while those who identify with an indigenous background are able to utilize a broader range of employment resources.

“We can start someone right from the beginning,” said Connie Calder who spearheads the recently-created Nindagikendan employment program for individuals 18-plus.

“We can help people to get what they need, like some might be lacking for instance identifications, which you need in order to get a SIN number which you need in order to get a job.”

The idea for the Nindagikendan program came from a group of elders who were finding that many of their people wanted to move on in their life to fulfill their dream employment but faced obstacles in getting there.

“People don’t seem to know that we’re here so we’re trying to let people know where we are and what we can do, because I always say, you won’t believe what we can do,” Calder explained.

The employment counselling unit provides all the resources and services necessary to find a person employment and maintain it if they are willing to own their path and take on that responsibility.

“I’ve had several people come in where we start right from scratch, and two that I can think of that stand out have become employed,” recalled Calder.

“The one person actually became a floor manager and then he left there and is now working at one of the local hotels, which that was his dream job and that was all just because he needed a little bit of help.”

“We have had many successful stories, but since we’ve moved here we just feel like we want to be out there more . . . sort of put ourselves on the map,” noted Calder.

She said while they are busy, the employment counselling unit wants to be busier and is ready to help more people achieve success.

And after employment is found through the UNFC’s counselling unit there are several supports in place to ensure the job is maintained.

“Once you have a job we don’t just drop you, because we take into consideration that if there’s a week hold back you might have to work three weeks before you get paid, so we help you for that three weeks,” Calder explained.

“You need to eat your lunch for three weeks, you might need transportation, so when you get the job we’re not just done with you.”

“It would even go beyond three weeks if that’s what you needed,” she added.

“And if your a person who has children, we don’t expect that just you have to eat. We want to make sure your home is going to be taken care of until you get your pay.”

Meanwhile, Miranda Paterson and Megan Finlayson lead the Apatisiwin Employment Unit which is geared towards youth 15-24 and adults 25 and up, and is also housed at the Circle of Life building.

Some of the Apatisiwin Program interventions include purchase of training, providing training supports, employment supports, the stay-in-school program, youth internships, and assistance in finding summer jobs.

Other services that can be accessed from the employment counselling unit include acquiring a drivers permit, getting work clothing, access to computer/internet, referrals, local community resources, labour market information, and training in WHMIS, first-aid, and Smart Serve.

Their vision is to provide strength, promote self-reliance, enhance the unity of indigenous people, and improve opportunities for meaningful employment through self-determined activities.

“We’re always thinking of new learning opportunities that we can offer as well,” Paterson said.

A newer activity they host is called “Rock Your Interview,” which teaches applicants how to make a positive and lasting impression.

“We also have ‘Make it Happen Monday,’ so that’s where people can come and do job search, college prep,” Paterson noted.

As well, youth budgeting programs are offered where young people are taught how to effectively manage their money.

The UNFC is hosting an employment unit meet and greet at the Circle of Life Building this Friday (July 19) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

UNFC staff encourages job seekers 15 and up to come out, take advantage of their services and see what the employment unit is all about.

Those who want to learn more about the UNFC’s employment services can contact Calder or Finlayson at 274-8541 or Miranda Paterson at 271-1324.