A Life-Changing Opportunity That Came with Persistent Efforts

September 23, 2021

“10 years later, I decided to move to Winnipeg in 2017, worked various minimum wage jobs which I did not like, and that’s when I decided to go back to school” says Jacob Chartrand. After having accomplished his Mature Student Diploma in 2019 from the Winnipeg Adult Education Center and training in the Home Builders program from the First People Development Inc. (FPDI) in 2021, today Jacob plans to pursue a career in Carpentry. His future goal is to acquire a Red Seal and be his own Contractor. He is eager to make his dreams a reality – he goes back to school in November this year to kick start on his Level 1 Carpentry.

Jacob comes from the Pine Creek First Nations community. He grew up in Duck Bay for most of his life and moved to Dauphin, Manitoba at the age of fourteen years. Ten years down the line, the need for better job opportunities bought him to Winnipeg in 2017.

The path to success is never linear and so it was for Jacob. After much struggle working various minimum wage jobs, Jacob decided to go back to school and complete his Mature Student Diploma from the Winnipeg Adult Education Center in 2019 which widely opened up opportunities for him. “The Mature Student Diploma opened numerous doors for my education”, says Jacob.

In 2020, with the outbreak of Covid-19 Jacob had to move back to Pine Creek. This however did not stop him from doing what he needed to. He started working with the Pine Creek Band Office in the Skills Link program when an interesting opportunity came his way – It was a funded project offered by FPDI in Home Building being offered at Pine Creek for which he got interviewed and selected.

As his career was about to take off, there was no looking back for Jacob. “I learned how to use power tools, read a measuring tape, how to frame a house and how to read blueprints,” says Chartrand. “We had excellent instructors who equipped us with the knowledge and resources we needed. I really enjoyed the program because it was all hands on and the environment was extremely friendly.” It was a turning point for Jacob as the project cleared off the cobwebs and he knew exactly what he wanted to do for his career. Chartrand credits his colleagues in helping him overcome his challenges during the project through their immense support.

Jacob is grateful for the valuable hands-on experience and a career direction that he gained with support from FPDI and his community in the Pine Creek in collaboration with the Manitoba Building Trades. He resumes school coming November 2021 in pursuit of his Level 1 Carpentry. “I am continuing my education. In November I will be returning to school to get my Level 1 Carpentry at the Prairie Arctic Trades Training Centre, Winnipeg. My long-term goal is to obtain the Red Seal certificate and become my own contractor.”
Jacob thanks his wife, Shylah and regards her as his biggest support system all throughout his journey. “If it wasn’t her motivating me to go every day and participate in every activity, I wouldn’t have completed the project; huge thanks to her.”

Career Fulfilment

July 16, 2021

Tia Dumas, from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, was hired as a Robotics Instructor with FPDI in fiscal year 2017-2018.  Her passion and dedication during the one-year Robotics program lead to her being offered a position with FPDI as an Administrative Assistant. That is where her journey started and today she works with the Native Women’s Transition Centre as an Admin Assistant.

When Tia started her new position as a Robotics Instructor, things weren’t as simple – she had to initially encounter a lack of interest from students towards the program but this did not shake Tia’s confidence. Tia’s creativity allowed her to develop a thoughtful and creative approach with the students which resulted in generating student interest and engagement in the program. “We actually had the robots fight each other at the end of the program – in short, inducing learning through play. And that’s what really got them more engaged,” says Tia.

Tia loved sharing her passion for Robotics through teaching despite the challenges she faced. “And once they got the hang of it, I could see it, with their faces lit up with a smile,” she says. “It’s just a great feeling to see somebody take what you’re teaching them and really thrive from it.”

At the end of the program, she felt thankful that she could gather such a great teaching experience while being able to travel across various First Nation communities spreading knowledge and making resources accessible. “This was not possible without the financial support that I received from FPDI, “says Tia.

Tia’s resilience, dedication and positive attitude opened up another great opportunity for her which was the role of an Administrative Assistant with FPDI. Her previous experience in a similar role helped her immensely in excelling in this position.  But learning and growing with FPDI did not stop; she was able to expand her skill-set through training programs and continued support. 

As the term ended, her hard work paid off as she got offered yet another great opportunity in a similar capacity with the Native Women’s transition Centre which was close to her heart. “I get to see a lot of babies growing up and when I see mothers reuniting with their babies/children, it brings me so much joy. A woman getting her children back is one of the best things I get to experience at work,” says Tia.

Building a Career

July 16, 2021

Kane Slavuta, from Peguis First Nation, had a passion for Robotics and Computer Science.  Kane would not have grown into an accomplished electrician had he not started his career with FPDI as a Robotics instructor.  Being able to teach community youth and expose them to technology was his dream and when he saw an opportunity with FPDI, he was thrilled and wanted to be a part of it.  

Kane had the motivation to teach and was willing to travel to various First Nation communities to impart his knowledge and skills.  When he was instructing he saw tremendous potential in the students and made sure they had all the guidance they needed apart from access to resources.

After successfully completing his Robotics term, Kane continued to pursue his passion for Robotics and joined Cognation Robotics as a developer while continuing to run his business in computer programming on the side. He decided to pursue an electrical career that would complement his technical knowledge. FPDI was recruiting for an electrical program and Kane applied. “FPDI supported me with program funding and it was a very friendly environment where I was able to build trust and meaningful relationships,” says Kane.

After he graduated from the Electrical program, Kane secured a contract doing electrical work at the Roquette Pea Plant in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. “We weren’t even part of the union yet but due to the high demand, they sent us. We had to write our final exams during weekends,” says Kane.

The Robotics program also saw a long-term connection between two Robotics instructors.  Kane and Tia came together through the Robotics program and today they are happily married with Tia expecting soon!

Instructor to Supervisor

July 16, 2021

Evan Colgan, from Long Plain First Nation, had just dropped out of the Red River Business Information Technology program after completing the first semester, when he saw a position posted on Facebook for a Robotics Instructor with FPDI. Shortly after being hired with FPDI Evan’s career began to soar to new heights. Just recently he was appointed as the Agri Drone Instructor by FPDI.

“I always wanted to pursue a career path that had something to do with technology. When I saw the Robotics Program position being advertised, I thought, it was perfect for me,” says Evan. Although being a strong presenter is an important teaching skill that Evan saw as a challenge initially, he successfully made his way through by virtue of hard work and perseverance.

What he found most fulfilling as an instructor was the ability to bring opportunities to First Nation youth, especially those from Northern communities who wouldn’t normally have access to resources to allow them to broaden their horizons. 

Evan demonstrated huge potential and by the end of the term he was promoted as the Robotics Supervisor of the entire program. “I think my previous knowledge of what it means to be an instructor really helped me manage the program itself because I knew what they were going through, being first-time instructors,” says Evan. “We started the year with not enough students graduating and concluded the year by accomplishing it as the best graduation rate year.”

Evan looks forward to his next endeavor as the instructor for the newly introduced Agri-Drone program with FPDI. “We’ve had those drones in a cabinet for a while, and we were just waiting for the perfect storm, basically just to bring them out and actually utilize them the way we utilized the Lego kits and turn it into another successful venture,” he says.

Evan credits FPDI for where he stands today. “When I started as an instructor, I wasn’t confident in my abilities to run a classroom, but today, here I am running the project.” 

Where There is a Will – There is a Way!

June 28, 2021

Kayla Taylor always dreamt of becoming a nurse. She questioned the possibility of studying while raising a child. With the loving support of her partner and family, she made this possible. 

Kayla’s program began in 2016.  The same year her mother was diagnosed with cancer and she moved in with Kayla. Proud of her daughter studying nursing, her mother would always say “oh, this is my daughter, she is in nursing school.” Unfortunately, Kayla lost her mother on Feb. 19, 2017. School kept her busy and was a way to forget about the hard times in her life. She would be seen studying in the stands while taking her son to hockey games. “I thought the best way I could give back is to give it all I can, stick with it and just work hard, and I know that I’d make everyone proud,” said Kayla.

Kayla graduated with honors from Assiniboine Community College, Licensed Practical Nursing Program. She was presented with Assiniboine’s fifth annual “One to Watch” student achievement award for her exceptional achievements and significant contributions to her profession and the community.

Changing Careers to Lead a Better Life

June 28, 2021

Jocelyn McIvor was working as a Heath Care Aid before entering the Indigenous Licenced Practical Nursing Program. She wanted to be a positive role model for her son and provide a good life to her family. The program brought with it an amazing atmosphere to learn and grow with a group of incredible class mates and instructors. 

Jocelyn’s biggest challenge was Math, but with practice she got through it. The most enjoyable part of the program was practicing the skills she learned on real people. “The feeling was great. Being knowledgeable is so rewarding.” This program impacted Jocelyn’s life dramatically. “I love the career I chose and now I can lead a good life with my family. I have become more knowledgeable in the health care field. I am an indigenous woman who grew up in Sandy Bay First Nation and I did it!”