Posts By: The Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies

Standing and Acting against Racism

All Our Relations

We mourn the members of the Black and Indigenous communities who have lost their lives as a result of racist violence by police: Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Rodney Levi, Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Jason Collins, Elshia Husdon, D’Andre Campbell, Randy Cochrane, Sean Thompson, Machuar Madut, Greg Ritchie, Chad Williams.

We stand and act in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those who resist racist abuses of power. We stand and act in solidarity with our sisters and brothers who are living with deep-seated colonization and racism, manifested in Canadian society and globally. The lives of the original inhabitants of this continent and the newcomers, whether coming here voluntarily or involuntarily have been and remain connected.

For half a millennium, greed and racial superiority have dominated the relationship between European newcomers, Blacks and Indigenous peoples. Blacks were forcibly removed from their indigenous homelands, transported across the ocean, forced into labour and lives filled with unspeakable cruelty, promised better lives and have not seen the promise fulfilled. Indigenous peoples were dispossessed of their lands, confined to the edges of their former territories, were subject to aggression and violence and then asked to live well with the settlers who came to dominate the continent.

We see the effect of insatiable greed and racism upon our lives, our societies, and our hopes and dreams for the future. The pandemic has rendered visible the structure of power and dominance in North American society. We see systemic racism and its effects clearly even though those in positions of power often do not. We see systemic racism at work in the inequitable treatment of people of colour by the police.

As the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, mindful of the history of colonialism and racism that sits at the centre of Canada, we continue, as we have done for the last half century, to work for relationships that are just, equitable and enable us to live well with all our relations.

Confronting systemic racism is challenging and dangerous. As academics and university staff, we use our minds and our words to understand the damage and its cause. We use our minds to understand how to repair the damage. We use our classrooms to help our students understand the forces that influence and shape their lives. We help to develop tools that enable our students and our colleagues to confront racism and colonization. Our stories, our teachings, our traditions, our values form the foundation for building strong and resilient societies.

All our relations.
The Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies June 8, 2020

Nominate Now flash

I would like to encourage Indigenous women, from my brief story, that you should never give up.

Stella and her husband Norman when she was at the
University of Regina in 1987

June is National Indigenous History Month. It is a good time for me, from my heart, to share my story in hopes of empowering other Indigenous women.

I come from the Gabriel family of Skownan First Nation. In 1973, I tragically lost my parents and older sister, who attended Brandon University. I have memories of my sister saying that she is going to be a chief. My surviving siblings and I were brought into care with Children’s Aid Society.

My father taught me to work hard. He used the illustration of a pen and book. He would hold it up and say, “This will get you somewhere, my children.” I recall that my grandparents at the Rez were the first ones to get a T.V. We children were allowed to watch it to learn English. In those days, it was instilled in children that they must speak English or they will not amount to anything. Moreover, we couldn’t speak our Native language. It was a life that was extremely difficult then, with poverty.

There was a lack of transportation. Parents walked to the store. Welfare funding was limited for families. I know my dad worked hard for his children. He put food on the table by fishing, trapping, digging Seneca root, hunting, planting gardens, sugar beeting, and picking berries. In the winter months, he would use his dog sled to take us to school.

What helped me was a T.V. commercial with chiefs who identified themselves as Manitoba Indian Brotherhood (MIB). Their message was very straightforward: “If you need help, call MIB.” I will always remember this commercial throughout my life because my sister would have been one of the chiefs in the future.

I remember my grandma’s teachings. She told me, “Don’t let anyone take your Saulteaux language.” Today I am fluent in my language. It came handy at one time when I was being interviewed by the late Chief Raymond Swan. Chief Swam asked every question in his native language, and I answered back in Saulteaux. Chief Swan was grateful for that.

Moreover, I also developed a support network of educated ladies from the University Club. And when I encounter challenges, I pray to God. Though going to school was difficult for me – at times I wasn’t able to concentrate due to emotional trauma of the loss of my parents – I managed to graduate.

I earned a Certificate of Social Work from University of Regina, and from Brandon University, Native Human Services. In 2007, I earned a Bachelor degree of Social Work from University of Manitoba.

For June 2020, National Indigenous History Month, I would like to encourage Indigenous women, from my brief story, that you should never give up. You too can make it. Don’t be ashamed of your history, culture, and language.

Stella J Woodhouse, BSW

Skilled Trades in the Digital Age – New opportunities at the intersection of old and new career pathways

The digitization of trades demands new skill sets, makes some trades more appealing to a wider range of apprentices and is creating new career and training pathways. For educators, this will require a better understanding of the overlap and differences between trades and information/communications technology and the new opportunities they present to students willing to consider less traditional careers.

The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway, as a combination of digital technologies permeate every sector of the economy and most every occupation – including those in the skilled trades. The digitization of trades demands new skill sets, makes some trades more appealing to a wider range of apprentices, and is creating new career and training pathways.

At the same time, the blurring of lines between information and communications technology (ICT) and skilled trades has created a confusing occupational grey area. The two sectors notably share one feature: both ICT and trades need more workers.

For educators, this evolution in the workplace will require a better understanding of the overlap between trades and digital tech, its extent and limitations, and the new opportunities it presents to students willing to consider less traditional careers.

Size of the prize

The digital economy has been growing at roughly double the pace of the wider economy for more than a decade now. According to the most recent labour forecast by the Information and Communication Technology Council (ICTC), by 2023, the demand for digitally skilled talent in Canada is expected to exceed 305,000. If filled, ICTC expects total employment in the Canadian digital economy to reach more than 2.1 million tech jobs.1

Interestingly, more than half of the current tech work is outside of the ICT sector per se. That means most tech jobs are now in sectors such as banking, insurance, and oil and gas, and in organizations across the entire economy looking to digital technology for better operational, safety and environmental performance.

The rapid growth of the digital economy has outstripped available ICT talent. In Canada’s major tech hubs – Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal – the shortfall in senior-level tech workers has even prompted international hiring symposiums such as the one last year in Calgary, hosted by Calgary Economic Development and international ICT recruitment firm VanHack. In October, VanHack vetted 36 intermediate and senior tech job seekers from five continents to help local Calgary companies hire the talent they desperately need to grow. The skilled trades tell a similar story. Fewer youth are learning the skills needed to replace an aging generation of soon-to-retire tradespeople. Critical shortages in skilled workers are on the horizon.2 In Alberta, during the economic downturn, trades groups reported continued healthy demand for skilled workers, but during the province’s oil and gas boom years, worker shortages were so acute that projects also imported tradespeople from abroad. This practice is expensive and risky, and almost always “the option of last resort,” whether in trades or tech.


By now, educators have surely heard a well-honed message from Canada’s trades groups. “If we want to have a well-functioning society, we need people with diverse interests and diverse skills,” says Shaun Thorson, Chief Executive Officer of Skills/Compétences Canada. Students should be led to consider all occupations and not just those that shepherd them through a university education, he says.

This message, however, doesn’t seem to be translating into more tradespeople. Despite steady, well-compensated work in trades, there remains a deeply entrenched perception that trades are a lesser career path to one that requires a university educationeven as increasing numbers of university graduates struggle to find employment.

“It’s worth repeating that not everyone wants an office job in front of a computer,” Thorson says. “And not everyone wants to be out on a worksite, working with tools and materials. The main thing is to tell students to do their research and not get trapped in the six to ten occupations that you mostly hear about.”

Digitization of trades

Some of the obvious examples of digitized trades are the diagnostic tools that automotive and heavy-equipment technicians use today. GPS-guided excavation is now run-of-the-mill technology in road construction and natural resource extraction projects. Schematic drawings are now mostly read on tablets rather than from rolls of paper blueprints.

Pretty much all trades contractors rely on scheduling, invoicing and other software programs to expedite their paperwork. The ubiquitous smartphone and the many communication platforms such as Teams and other video/chat/file-sharing apps allow for greater collaboration and problem solving among tradespeople, designers and engineers. And new digital applications are being introduced each year.

Janis Lawrence-Harper, director of research and development with Careers: The Next Generation, an Alberta trade group launched in 1997 to support the growth of the oilsands industry by promoting skilled trades, adds some of the latest developments along this digital journey. “In the oilsands, the heavy haulers have a tremendous number of sensors that collect data about everything from how hard the equipment is hitting bumps, to how inflated the tires are and where the bumps are located so the road can actually be fixed,” she says. That data is tracked and processed by the mechanic, whose job it is to optimize the efficient running of these machines. (What Lawrence-Harper doesn’t mention is that autonomous vehicles are also becoming the norm in some mining operations in Alberta and around the world.)

Agricultural equipment technicians also rely on data to do their job. Advanced agricultural equipment today can seed a field within an inch of the previous year’s seeding plan. To maximize crop growth, drones help run and monitor fertilization programs.

“As technology continues to play a bigger role in many skilled trades, we are going to see changes in the required skillsets,” says Lawrence-Harper. “That might mean those occupations change, or in some cases, it might create new specialized positions that could fall into the categories of skilled trades and ICT. It will be up to the Alberta government to decide where those occupations belong.”.

ICT as a trade

The Working Centre, an Ontario group established in 1982 as a response to unemployment and poverty in downtown Kitchener, now lists several ICT roles as skilled trades under the “Services” banner. These occupations include Contact Centre Customer Service Agent, Technical Support Agent, Hardware Technician, and Network Technician.

The grey area between tech and trades has prompted Careers: The Next Generation to launch an Information and Communication Technology Internship Program to help meet the growing demand for tech workers in the next decade. The program offers six-week hands-on-learning internships to high school students interested in expanding their understanding of ICT opportunities in the workplace and to help define their potential career paths.

“We’re piloting it this year – though it’s a bit of a stretch right now with the COVID 19 pandemic,” Lawrence-Harper says. “We see a huge synergy between skilled trades and ICT. These two directions build on each other and this program bridges that gap between tech and trades.”

Careers: The Next Generation works with companies and organizations whose primary role isn’t ICT, but which have an ICT dimension. These have been in transportation, construction, marketing, the not-for-profit sector or others. At the other end, Careers works with high school staff to match Grade 11 and 12 students who have specific ICT skills and interests with target company needs. “Pacific Western, for example, has a lot of heavy-equipment technicians, so we talk to them about what role ICT plays in their company, what the crossover is in their heavy-equipment garage and how they could benefit from hiring a student intern,” Lawrence-Harper says. The company or organization foots the bill for the six-week internship, and benefits from the placement to the extent of the type and scope of work identified for the intern. Part of this value proposition is a line of sight to future ICT hiring, development of mentoring capabilities, strengthening of its ICT focus and connection to community.

To date, about 30 students have taken part in this internship, but the program is expected to expand into something bigger. Lawrence-Harper says that the skilled trades’ training model, which combines on-the-job mentoring and post-secondary education, could apply to learning certain ICT roles.

The blurring of lines between information and communications technology (ICT) and skilled trades has created a confusing occupational grey area.

Limitations and pathways

Despite the overlap of skilled trades and tech, Skills Canada’s Thorson is careful not to oversell the razzle and dazzle of tech to prospective apprentices. “The digitization of trades is exciting and interesting and may initially attract more students to learn about what’s involved in these occupations, but I don’t think digital tech will necessarily keep them in a skilled trade occupation [if they don’t enjoy the trade itself],” he says.

ICTC’s manager of data analysis and research, Rob Davidson, puts a finer point on this. “Trades are typically tactile occupations. So they are almost the opposite of digital jobs, which are mostly abstract,” he says. Many tech roles, in fact, involve high levels of abstract thinking and knowledge of programming languages. This is true of the top five in-demand digital occupations identified by ICTC’s Canada’s Growth Currency: Digital Talent Outlook 2023 (software developer, data scientist, data analyst, UX/UI designer, and full stack developer).

Thorson, however, urges people to move beyond the idea that students are either abstract learners or experiential learners. Students fall somewhere along a continuum between these poles. This perspective opens the door to “helping students find the right comfort level with abstract concepts that are married to tactile occupations that manipulate objects.”

Moreover, Davidson notes that the growing importance of digital technology challenges other sterotypes. The image of the socially inept techie in a dim backroom full of computer screens is giving way to tech workers who can fluently explain digital functionalities and present the business case for a new technology platform to C-suite executives.

A parallel trend in the skilled trades is driven by the collaborative nature of digital technology, which is allowing tradespeople to share their expertise. Construction outcomes, for example, can be improved when trades collaboration is sought earlier in the planning and design process rather than later in the execution stage, as has traditionally been the case. Shared digital platforms are facilitating this type of stakeholder consultation.

Exposing students to these tech and occupational trends is key. Educators can play an important role in helping students find meaningful careers by sharing their understanding of digital technology developments and their impacts on in-demand occupations. This awareness could extend to keeping abreast of new tech curricula developments in Canada’s post-secondary institutions, and various initiatives such as the Careers ICT pilot, or ICTC’s nationwide CyberTitan program, which provides middle and secondary school students with a foundation in digital skills by participating in a competition to fend off simulated cyber attacks. Career options have never been as diverse as they are today.

Photo: iStock

First published in Education Canada, June 2020


– ICTC is in the process of revising this pre-COVID-19 forecast. Moreover, ICTC’s previous forecast to 2021 projected a significantly lower demand of 216,000 tech jobs, which was largely due to a change in methodology; more ICT-related National Occupational Classification codes were included in the 2023 forecast.

– Again, how this will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic was unknown at the time of writing.

Respected Siksika Leader and Elder Roy Little Chief Has Died

Elected Chief of the Siksika Nation 1981-1983
Elected Chief of the Siksika Nation 1981-1983

A former Chief of the Siksika First Nation, Mr. Roy Little Chief, passed away on June 11, 2020 in Calgary. For over 50 years, Roy Little Chief had a positive impact on the rights and causes important to Indigenous communities across Canada. The Blackfoot elder – whose maternal grandfather, Eagle Rib, signed Treaty 7 – was first elected to the Siksika Nation Council in a by-election that led to his election as Chief from 1981-1983.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Roy Little Chief worked with the Indian Association of Alberta and Harold Cardinal, a prominent Indigenous leader in Alberta, to promote the rights and contributions of Indigenous people. He began his activism by opposing a federal government White Paper in the early 1970s that called for the elimination of separate legal status for First Nations in Canada.

In the early 1970s, Roy Little Chief became the Southern Director of the American Indian Movement in Alberta. He was a central figure in the awakening of First Nations political activity, Indigenous spirituality, and cultural expression. He had success in organizing support for the inclusion of aboriginal rights in the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in the early 1980s.

Roy Little Chief, along with Urban Calling Last, founded the Calgary Urban Treaty Alliance. He also became a member of the first City of Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee, along with Ralph Klein, when it was formed in 1979.

Roy Little Chief served on many boards and committees over the years, including the National Anti Poverty Organization, and the National Residential School Survivors Society, representing Treaty 7. His efforts contributed to eventual reparations for residential school survivors and the establishment of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Roy Little Chief was vocal in calling out the racial attitudes embodied in law enforcement protocols of the Calgary Police Service and the RCMP that resulted in the unfair imprisonment of Indigenous people. He pushed social welfare agencies to treat their clients, including children, with respect, and to work harder for clients’ benefits. His work during the 1970s was documented in the book, “Wall of Words” by the late Dr. Joan Ryan, Anthropology Professor at the University of Calgary.

Roy Little Chief was the last remaining member of the original A-1 drum group
Roy Little Chief was the last remaining member of the original A-1 drum group

As a member of the Indian-Lutheran Race Relations Committee from 1977-1982, Roy Little Chief developed a unique and ground-breaking program of “listening conferences” to build awareness and support for First Nations’ issues with church congregations. In 1979, Roy Little Chief was a member of an Indigenous delegation invited by World Moral Rearmament to participate in reconciliation efforts between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. He also pursued theological training in a three year program at the Alberta Bible College.

In the past two decades, Roy Little Chief held various leadership positions, including Chair of the Siksika Police Commission, Chair of Siksika Housing, and Board member of Siksika Resource Development Ltd., the business arm of the Siksika Nation.

Roy Little Chief was the primary organizer, and the last remaining member of the original Blackfoot A1 Drum Group. The award-winning singing, drumming, and dance troupe was formed in the mid 1960s. They were regularly invited to perform at pow wows and cultural events across Canada and the United States, including at Expo 67 in Montreal during Canada’s Centennial year. In turn, they inspired a wave of many similar groups to form in other First Nations.

Roy Little Chief was a friend to many. He built a multitude of lasting relationships across cultures and communities throughout North America. He once said of his life that he, ”… had honourably reached Eldership, with well-rounded life-experience, enjoying life, free of all addictions, with the help of my spiritual beliefs.” He worked and prayed unceasingly for the full participation of all Indigenous people in the political, social, cultural, and spiritual life of their Nation and of Canada.

Roy Little Chief received the Queens Golden Jubilee Medal 2002 for his work to improve the status of First Nations communities in Canada. The medal was presented to him by the late Senator Thelma Chalifoux.

Roy Little Chief was born on August 26, 1938 in the Blackfoot Hospital at the Siksika Nation. He was educated in residential schools at Crowfoot-Blackfoot, Erminskin-Hobbema, and St. Thomas College in North Battleford. He passed away at the Peter Lougheed Hospital. Mr. Little Chief had suffered from failing health in recent months.

Roy Little Chief is survived by his wife, Linda Little Chief (Cheechoo). They have six children, numerous grandchildren, and a great granddaughter.

A memorial service for Roy Little Chief will be held at The Gordon Yellow Fly Memorial Arbour on the Siksika Reserve at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 18.

For comment and further information, please contact:
Ms. Kathleen McHugh (403) 324-0423; or
Mr. Faron Melting Tallow (403) 324-7786; (403) 734-0083 or
Mr. Thurman Little Light (403) 901-8808

Treaties at Risk: Case Comment on Fort Mckay First Nation

Community of Fort McKay sign

Despite decades of strong Indigenous voices demanding that governments honour the Treaties, and numerous court decisions supporting their calls for action, governments across Canada continue to disrespect and ignore their Treaty obligations.

In Fort McKay First Nation v Prosper Petroleum Ltd., the Alberta Court of Appeal has become the most recent Canadian court to highlight the disconnect between governments’ legal obligations to Treaty people and their shameful and continuing disregard for the Treaty relationship.

What it is about

In 1899, predecessors of Fort McKay First Nation entered into Treaty 8 with the Crown. The Treaty was intended to establish a relationship of mutual respect and benefit, and to set the terms by which the Indigenous signatories to Treaty 8 would peacefully share their territory while preserving their own way of life.
In recent decades, lands surrounding Fort McKay have been subject to extensive oil sands development. In 2003, Fort McKay and the Government of Alberta entered into negotiations to develop a plan to address the cumulative effects of industrial activities on Fort McKay’s Treaty rights in the Moose Lake area. The Province promised, as part of the negotiations, to protect lands in the Moose Lake area from further development.
In 2018, before the plan to protect lands in the Moose Lake area was finalized, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) approved an application for a bitumen recovery project near Fort McKay’s reserves.
Fort McKay appealed the AER’s decision on the basis that the AER failed to consider the honour of the Crown and should have delayed approval of the project until Fort McKay’s negotiations with the Province were completed.

The Court of Appeal Alberta

What the Court said

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered the AER to reconsider whether the project was in the public interest, taking into account the honour of the Crown and commitments made by Alberta in the course of an ongoing negotiation process with Fort McKay.
The Court held that the honour of the Crown requires governments act in a way that accomplishes the intended purposes of the Treaty, and that this overarching obligation may give rise to duties beyond consultation, including the requirement to keep promises made in negotiations to protect Treaty rights.
The Court acknowledged that the reality of extensive industrial development may make it increasingly difficult for the Province to keep certain Treaty promises, including the right to hunt. However, the Court emphasized that the Province remains under an ongoing obligation to honourably implement the Treaty, including by taking into account the cumulative effects of development on Treaty rights.
The Court further held that where a regulatory agency such as the AER is required to consider whether a project is in the “public interest,” it must ensure that its decision is consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In this case, the AER failed to fulfil its responsibility to consider the honour of the Crown and potential impacts of a project on Aboriginal and Treaty rights as part of fulfilling its public interest mandate.


Why it matters

The importance of the numbered Treaties, and the Crown’s corresponding obligations, have been repeatedly and unequivocally confirmed by the Supreme Court for many years. As the Court held in Mikisew (2005), the honour of the Crown is at stake in the performance of every Treaty obligation. The Treaty relationship mandates an ongoing process whereby the Crown, acting honourably, must ensure that Treaty rights remain protected in the face of industrial development.
Too often, however, Indigenous Peoples’ Treaty rights have been sidelined where large-scale resource projects are at stake. This is particularly true in Alberta, where oil sands development has left Fort McKay and other First Nations unable to use large portions of their lands.
The Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision is an important reminder to Alberta, and other provinces, that the Crown’s Treaty promises are to be taken seriously.
The honour of the Crown requires that it take steps to protect a First Nation’s Treaty rights long before those rights are infringed. This includes taking into account the cumulative effects of resource development and promises made in the course of modern-day negotiations.
Government decisions which fail to consider the impacts of a project on a First Nation’s Treaty rights cannot be in the public interest.

Looking ahead

It is a telling comment on the Alberta government’s systemic failure to live up to its Treaty obligations that it was necessary for the Court of Appeal to remind the Province of its Treaty obligations.
Will Alberta, and other provinces, finally begin to take their Treaty obligations seriously? Only time will tell. Importantly, the Fort McKay decision makes clear that courts are prepared to enforce the Crown’s obligations in respect of Treaty implementation.
Alberta needs to accept the fact that disrespecting the Treaties is both contrary to Canadian law and bad policy. The possibility of cancelled projects creates uncertainty for everyone. Certainty, and honour, can only be realized through fulfilling Treaty obligations.

Kate Gunn is a lawyer at First Peoples Law Corporation. Kate completed her Master’s of Law at the University of British Columbia. Her most recent academic essay, “Agreeing to Share: Treaty 3, History & the Courts,” was published in the UBC Law Review.

Bruce McIvor, lawyer and historian, is principal of First Peoples Law Corporation. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law where he teaches the constitutional law of Aboriginal and Treaty rights. Bruce is a proud Métis from the Red River in Manitoba. He holds a Ph.D. in Aboriginal and environmental history and is a Fulbright Scholar. A member of the bar in British Columbia and Ontario, Bruce is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading practitioner of Aboriginal law in Canada.

Soft skills and hard skills: What’s the difference?


If you want to take your career to the next level, you’ll need to showcase your development in two key skill areas: hard and soft skills. A hard skill is essentially your ability to carry out a specific task, while a soft skill is the way you perform that task within a workplace setting.

In the past, employers had a tendency to focus on hard skills, but in today’s modern workplace, they are increasingly seeking soft skills as a differentiator. In fact, soft skill-intensive occupations will account for around two-thirds of all jobs in Australia by 2030, Deloitte reports.

So what’s the difference between hard and soft skills, and how do you demonstrate you have both to employers?

Hard and soft skills: The difference

Hard skills are easy to quantify – they are the technical knowledge you learn either in the classroom or on the job, and you prove them through certifications, degrees or other qualifications. Soft skills, on the other hand, are a bit more subjective – you can’t show a potential employer you scored an A in teamwork, for example. Instead, you have to show you’ve developed these interpersonal skills through offering instances of where you’ve used teamwork in a particular setting.

In today’s workforce where technology and automation predominate, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking hard skills are all you need, that they are the key differentiator that will help get you a job or your next promotion. However, while hard skills are certainly important, in a tech-dominated world it’s your soft skills that are really going to make the difference. After all, while machines can carry out a lot of tasks that were previously only performed by humans, they can’t practice emotion or empathy – this remains the preserve of humans.

Now let’s take a look at some examples of hard and soft skills.

Examples of hard and soft skills

LinkedIn has compiled a list of the most in-demand hard and soft skills in 2019. When it comes to hard skills, predictably, the majority are technology-based, however languages and marketing also feature highly.

The top 10 are as follows:

  1. Cloud Computing.
  2. Artificial Intelligence.
  3. Analytical Reasoning.
  4. People Management.
  5. UX Design.
  6. Mobile Application Development.
  7. Video Production.
  8. Sales Leadership.
  9. Translation.
  10. Audio Production.

When it comes to soft skills, creativity tops LinkedIn’s list, followed by persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management. Creativity and adaptability clearly complement many of the harder skills outlined above. With technology changing at a faster pace than ever, organisations need people who can think innovatively and adapt to new circumstances in order to survive.

Other examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication: The effective sharing of ideas, perspectives and information between parties inside and outside the business.
  • Critical thinking: The ability to analyse situations and understand the implications of a problem to find solutions.
  • Global citizenship: Being aware and cognisant of your place in a culturally and economically connected world.
  • Innovation: The ability to conceptualise new or improved ideas, processes and ways of doing things.
  • Problem solving: Defining problems, finding potential solutions, and evaluating each one’s impact to choose the one that will work best.
  • Professional ethics: Understanding the ethical expectations of professionals and organisations in the modern business environment.
  • Self-management: Taking responsibility, working independently, managing your own career, planning and pursuing opportunities, and reflecting on performance.
  • Teamwork: With many projects in today’s work environment needing input from multiple people, the ability to work effectively in a team is a skill many organisations need their employees to have.

So those are some of the most common hard and soft skills employers look for, but how do you acquire them?

How do you develop hard and soft skills?

As we said before, hard skills are often developed in a classroom setting. If you want to learn about social media marketing, for example, you can take an online course in it. It’s also possible to pick up hard skills in the workplace, but this will still generally require some sort of formal training.

Meanwhile, soft skills are a lot more intangible – you’ll normally develop them through experiences in everyday life or on the job, and they can’t be taught in quite the same way as technical knowledge, although coaching and mentoring certainly helps.

To pick up soft skills, employees need to be self-reflective. They must look at different situations at work and see how they could have handled it differently, either through communicating in another way, organising a task differently or thinking about something in a more innovative way. It’s also helpful to look at how other people (particularly managers) handle certain situations. If you reflect on your own and other peoples’ interactions in the workplace regularly, you’ll eventually build up a bank of different soft skills.

But without formal qualifications, how do you prove that you possess these soft skills to employers during the interview process?

How to demonstrate you have hard and soft skills

Even with hard skills, simply saying you have a degree in X isn’t enough. In the early 1980s, only 5 per cent of the Australian working population had a bachelors degree or above. Now, according to Deloitte, this figure stands at 25 per cent and rising. It’s therefore likely that other candidates in the hiring pool have exactly the same degree as you.

Instead, you need to talk to potential employers about your experiences using that technical knowledge in specific real-world scenarios. For example, how has an instance where you used your technical knowledge helped further the success or revenue of the business?

Soft skills are also now essential in getting your next job or promotion, especially if you’re going for a leadership or managerial role. But how do you prove you have these types of skills?

Look no further than Deakin’s professional practice credentials. These are university-level micro-credentials that provide an authoritative and third-party assessment of your capabilities in a range of areas, including employability and soft skills, as well as leadership proficiencies and even technical knowledge.

Find out more about our credentials here or contact a member of the team today to find out how you can take your career to the next level by showing you’ve got the soft skills they need.

More UBC researchers receive federal funding to study COVID-19

Credit: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

Five additional scientists awarded $2.3 million for research on novel coronavirus

Five research teams at the University of British Columbia are collectively receiving $2.3 million in federal funding for research to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.

The teams, led by UBC researchers Horacio Bach, Artem Cherkasov, Eric Jan, Jeffrey Joy and Dr. James Russell, are working on developing and implementing measures to rapidly detect, neutralize, manage, and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

They join research teams led by Dr. Richard Lester, Dr. Srinivas Murthy, Natalie Prystajecky and Dr. Mel Krajden, and Yue Qian, who collectively received $2.8 million from the federal government for their research on COVID-19 announced March 6—bringing the total federal funding for UBC researchers working on COVID-19 to $5.1 million.

Countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the current outbreak of COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of more than 14,500 people worldwide, according to the March 23 update from the World Health Organization.

“We are very grateful for this additional investment through the federal government’s emergency research funding,” says Gail Murphy, vice-president, research and innovation at UBC. “This provides researchers at UBC and across the country with resources to gain critical insights into COVID-19 and help to develop treatments and prevent its spread.”

Testing antibodies to block COVID-19

Horacio Bach, adjunct professor in the division of infectious diseases in the UBC faculty of medicine, is principal investigator of a team receiving $395,600. His team will be developing antibodies to neutralize and block the entrance of the virus into cells, and testing the efficacy of these antibodies in mice.

“Currently, there is no effective treatment or vaccine to control the virus, which in severe cases can cause respiratory failure and death,” says Bach, who is also the manager of the antibody engineering facility within the Immunity and Infectious Research Centre at Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute. “We are hopeful that our research will lead to a treatment for patients and will help prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Using ‘deep docking’ to rapidly identify anti-viral drug molecules

A team led by Artem Cherkasov—professor in the department of urologic sciences in the UBC faculty of medicine and senior scientist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre—is receiving $999,000.

Using “deep docking”—a virtual screening protocol enabled by artificial intelligence—the research team is applying an algorithm to search chemical space to identify compounds that could potentially inhibit the main enzyme critical to helping the SARS-CoV-2 virus to survive. SARS-CoV-2 is the term for the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.

“Deep docking allows our team to rapidly identify small anti-viral drug molecules in an extremely condensed timeframe,” he explains. “In fact, our first application of the algorithm this month enabled the screening of 1.3 billion commercially available compounds against the novel coronavirus virus in one week—a process that would have taken three years using conventional methods.”

Preparing for future emerging coronavirus outbreaks

A team led by Eric Jan, professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology with Chris Overall, professor in the Centre for Blood Research in the UBC faculty of medicine, is receiving $331,212.

The research team is working to identify protein targets of SARS and MERS coronavirus proteases. By engineering “decoy protein sequences,” they are hoping to block the ability of SARS and MERS coronaviruses to function, thereby inhibiting infection.

“Currently, the pathogenic mechanisms that lead to COVID-19 disease are not well understood,” says Jan. “We are hopeful that uncovering the proteins that are targeted by these coronaviruses will provide insights into the pathogenic mechanisms that lead to COVID-19 disease, which will hopefully help us prepare for future emerging coronavirus outbreaks as well.”

Studying the genomic evolution of the novel coronavirus

A team led by Jeffrey Joy, assistant professor in the UBC department of medicine, is receiving $315,000 to study the genomic evolution of SARS-CoV-2.

The research team will study the available SARS-COV-2 genomes and compare them with the genomes of other coronaviruses to determine common features and evaluate patterns of viral spread.

The team, which is collaborating with researchers at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control as well as other Canadian researchers, hope their research will help focus the response, control and elimination of the current, and future, coronavirus outbreaks.

“We are grateful to the federal government for this emergency funding, which is enabling researchers at UBC and across Canada to help find solutions to this urgent crisis,” says Joy, who is also a senior research scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Repurposing blood-pressure and diabetes drugs for COVID-19

Dr. James Russell, professor in the UBC department of medicine, is receiving $255,970. His team is studying the safety and effectiveness of using a class of drugs, called ARBs, commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure and diabetes, to improve outcomes for patients with COVID-19. Examples of ARBs include losartan, irbesartan, candesartan, telmisartan, valsartan, eprosartan, and alzilsartan.

Previous research has shown that these drugs can prevent lung injury in models of influenza pneumonia. Russell and his team hypothesize that ARBs could work for patients with COVID-19 as well because influenza and coronavirus bind to the same cell receptor in the lung.

The researchers will be evaluating these drugs in a study of 497 hospitalized adult patients who are or are not already on ARBs.

“We hope that we can further increase understanding of whether a class of drugs very commonly used for cardiovascular disease and diabetes can actually help Canadians and patients around the world, get better outcomes from COVID-19,” says Russell, who is also principal investigator at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI) at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Russell also hopes his team’s research will uncover answers as to why COVID-19 seems to critically affect elderly people and why heart disease seems to be a significant risk factor for dying from COVID-19.

Data will be shared openly to inform the global research response

The federal government is providing the funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Research Coordinating Committee through the New Frontiers in Research Fund, the International Development Research Centre, and Genome Canada.

The funding will support the researchers’ work over the next two years. Research findings and data produced as a result of the funding will be shared rapidly and openly (in line with the joint statement on sharing research data and findings relevant to the novel coronavirus outbreak) to inform the global public health response and to help save lives.

New Exhibits at the Northern Lakes College Native Cultural Arts Museum Promote Understanding, Healing, and Reconciliation

“Forgiveness, apologies, actions, unity, change, and healing are all components of reconciliation,” explains Sam (Carl) Willier, an alumni of the Northern Lakes College Academic Upgrading program. “We chose Indigenous exhibits to dedicate healing towards the process of reconciliation in Canada.” Sam is one of five summer students creating new exhibits at the Native Cultural Arts Museum at Northern Lakes College. Over the summer, the students were given an open-ended objective to create Indigenous exhibits using artefacts in the museum collection.

They were free to choose the number of exhibits they would create, as well as the theme. After some discussion and a survey of the artefacts in the collection, they determined they would create five exhibits celebrating aspects of Indigenous culture, with a focus on the ingenuity, creativeness, and playfulness of the culture.

The students kept top of mind the overarching umbrella of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action as they created the exhibits. “Reconciliation still has a very long way to go, but there is a movement that has been started and it will take everyone towards reconciliation,” states Sam, 24, who is pursuing his Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Alberta. The students felt that the exhibits’ celebration of culture and tradition could help that movement.

The Indigenous Children’s exhibit contains a dreamcatcher, baby moccasins, cradleboard, and medicine pouch. As explained by a summer student who grew up hearing stories in the oral tradition, “My parents told me the traditional stories as I was growing up. The Spider Lady was a spiritual protector, spinning her web of protection. As her children grew and dispersed, she taught the mothers and grandmothers how to weave their own web to protect their children. That is where the dreamcatcher originates.”.

Two light-hearted exhibits demonstrate play and transportation. Traditional Indigenous Games includes a sampling of games involving chance and skill. The Transportation exhibit includes two saddles made of bone and wood, sewn together with sinew. Tamara Ferguson, 18, graduated from E.W. Pratt in June, and intends to pursue a Bachelor of Arts with a focus on Psychology. Of the children’s, games, and transportation exhibits, she explains, “We wanted to portray Indigenous people in real life.

The stereotypes include the stoic, fierce, warrior. However, the history is not all serious, and these lighter exhibits humanize that history. Lacrosse games could involve up to 600 people per side, as the games were often played tribe versus tribe.

”The Hereditary versus Electoral exhibit looks at the modern electoral system versus the traditional hereditary system. Explains Bobbi-De Lastiwka, a current Academic Upgrading student at NLC, “Until the Indian Act of 1876 forced a European model of elected leadership, Indigenous peoples had a traditional system of hereditary chiefs.” To this day, some First Nations communities have an elected chief, whose role is primarily governance, along with a hereditary chief, who holds a significant position of influence and responsibility for ensuring the overall well-being of the community.

The exhibit also includes samples of traditional versus modern tobacco. Explains Virginia Gold, a graduate of Mount Royal University with a degree in Geology and a minor in History, “Traditionally, wild-growing tobacco was collected, dried, and used in ceremony.

Today, this is often replaced by commercial tobacco.”The final exhibit focuses on healing and reconciliation. The jingle dress, worn during a healing dance often performed at powwow ceremonies, takes pride of place. Healing herbs such as sweet grass, sage, cedar, and tobacco, which are utilized in various ceremonies, complete the display. Complementing the students’ healing and reconciliation exhibit is the artistic collage to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls of Canada.

Created by a former summer student who wishes to remain anonymous, the collage includes hundreds of tiny photos of the missing and murdered. Concludes Sam, “I feel my role is to educate people on the TRC, the 94 Calls to Action, and what is means to reconcile. It means a lot to have the opportunity to educate people through this work at the Museum. As a teacher, I will be able to contribute more to the process of reconciliation.

The first step is creating awareness and understanding.” The Native Cultural Arts Museum, which is located at the Grouard Campus, was established in 1976. Recognized by the Alberta Museums Association, the Museum’s artefact collection celebrates various aspects of Indigenous cultures, with a special focus on Métis peoples and the Woodland Cree of northern Alberta.

The Museum’s historical and contemporary collections serve to educate the public by depicting Indigenous lifestyles through exhibits of art, music, hunting, regalia, clothing, and more. The Native Cultural Arts Museum is owned and operated by Northern Lakes College with additional support and funding from the Alberta Museums Association and Big Lakes County.

The Delgamuukw decision: Putting the Wet’suwet’en conflict in perspective

(In a photo that may come to define the present conflict, Coastal GasLink employees dismantle a blockade on Wet’suwet’en territory as part of an RCMP raid on the camps. Images like this one spawned solidarity blockades across the country. Photo: Twitter)

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief Satsan sat around the fire at a blockade at Sam Green Creek on the Babine River in the 1980s. He’d just returned to his community of Hagwilget Village in 1975 after attending a residential school and spending a couple years hitchhiking across the country.

Satsan dove head first into the struggle for First Nations land and human rights, a 150-year-old struggle going nonstop since the first fur traders and Christian missionaries arrived in lands the Crown would later claim as northern British Columbia.

Around the fire at that blockade, he remembers getting a vote of confidence from the Elders. They supported everything being done in defense of First Nations title, land rights, and jurisdiction.

“When you’re out there traveling, we’re with you,” the Elders said. “We see what’s going on. We see where you’re going and we do that to protect you.”

This struggle became “more urgent” in the ‘70s because of flooding resulting from the Nechako reservoir as well as the Kemano I dam. This was a hydroelectric megaproject established by Alcan and the B.C. government in the ‘50s to power an aluminum smelting facility in Kitimat. It impacted southern Wet’suwet’en territories and also flooded the lands of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation, destroy- ing homes, sacred burial grounds, and culturally important archaeological sites.

Satsan and others opposed the proposed Kemano II dam, which they said would have flooded and destroyed more traditional lands. The B.C. forest service was starting to clear-cut as well. At that time, says Satsan, “our people were being charged for illegally fishing in our own fishing sites in our rivers, so we started defending those and winning those cases and started to get busy to exercise our rights on our territories and to protect our lands.” They began considering ways they could fight back and defend their rights. They knew the courts were always there as a last resort.

“We started looking at all the different avenues that were available to deal with it, and initially it was blockades and civil disobedience on the land to protect it and we did that through the mid-to-late ‘70s into the ‘80s.”

In the 1970s, the elected band council asked him to become the Hagwilget band manager.

“They brought me in and said that they needed my help on this whole issue. So even though I was hired as the band manager, I got involved with the chiefs on what was known as the ‘land question’ at the time.”

But Satsan became much more than the band manager.

He became the speaker on behalf of the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en nations throughout the then-unprecedented legal action now commonly referred to as the Delgamuukw Supreme Court of Canada decision.

“Both the Gitxsan and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs agreed there needed to be just one voice. We needed to be really focused and we needed to be tight internally, so it was decided that there would be one speaker and that I was the speaker for both the Gitxsan and the Wet’su- wet’en, on one hand. On the other hand, I was also part of the team that put the case together and brought it forward.”

Satsan went to law school and studied Western law. He became one of the main strategists and helped devise the legal argument that earned a positive decision for Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan from Canada’s highest court in 1997 after a 1991 defeat in B.C.

Satsan is the hereditary wing-chief title for Wet’su- wet’en Kayex (Birchbark) House of the Gilseyhu (Big Frog) Clan. But Satsan – whose English name is Herb George – prefers to be identified as “just one of the chiefs.”

Despite that humility, he’s an encyclopedia of Aboriginal constitutional law who speaks eloquently about any court case you can name. He represented B.C. for two terms at the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and now works with the Centre for First Nations Governance, whose predecessor organization he also founded.

He spoke with APTN News after a weekend of long talks in Smithers, B.C. resulted in a “draft arrangement” between the feds, the province, and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on rights and Aboriginal title.

“This arrangement for the Wet’suwet’en will breathe life into the Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa decision so that future generations do not have to face conflicts like the one they face today,” said
a joint statement from the hereditary chiefs, the federal government, and British Columbia.

Satsan wasn’t present for those talks. He, like many others, hasn’t seen the draft agreement.

The chiefs said they plan to bring it before their people for ratification in the Feast Hall, the central precolonial Wet’suwet’en governance institution. Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and her provincial counterpart Scott Fraser agreed to return to sign the draft if it’s ratified.

Forty-five years after the Alcan dam resistance, more civil disobedience and another blockade – this time over a pipeline – forced the government to the table. The Coastal GasLink pipeline would carry natural gas from a hydraulic fracturing facility from Dawson Creek to a liquification facility in Kitimat.

The Wet’suwet’en pipeline resistance spawned solidarity demonstrations across the country. Now the blockades aren’t only happening on Babine River or logging roads. They halted passenger and freight train travel through one of Canada’s busiest industrial corridors. The country-wide movement forced the Trudeau administration into crisis management mode and ignited vigorous debate on Parliament Hill.

For Satsan – and others involved in the court case – all of this could have been avoided if the Crown took the Supreme Court’s advice and sat down to negotiate in good faith after Delgamuukw.

Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa in context

Satsan answers questions about Delgamuukw-Gis- day’wa – as he insists we call it – by saying “first of all, when you’re talking about the case, you need to put it in really clear perspective.”

Delgamuukw (Earl Muldoe) was a claimant for the Gitxsan, but he sued on behalf of his House and the nation. Gisday’wa (Alfred Joseph) was a prominent Wet’suwet’en claimant.

Out of those involved, few had a better perspective than Gitxsan Hereditary Chief Yagalahl of Spookwx House. She was a court monitor, liaison, and reporter throughout the case. She sat through all 374 court days that were spread out over four years.

She was present at the recent Smithers meetings too. She says she was “satisfied” with the draft arrangement, but remains tight-lipped until the nation can have a Feast to discuss it.

In her seventies now, she listened to her chiefs and Elders tell their sacred oral histories in court 20 years ago. Satsan refers to these histories as a “sacred history box” that many were afraid to open for a court they considered foreign and colonial.

Now Yagalahl tells stories like an Elder herself. She talks with fervid, emphatic enthusiasm that the written word fails to capture.

“Let me tell you, if you come to my house and you sit with me and have tea – I’m telling you – you get an earful. I don’t stop. I make a short story long,” she says, laughing, after telling one of those long stories.

She jokes but her message is strong. She served as elected chief of Hagwilget – which is a mixed Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en community – from
1994 to 2019. She was the only elected chief who rejected the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. She has no qualms about speaking out.
When you tell the truth, you aren’t afraid of anything, she says. But that jumps ahead. Like Satsan, Yagalahl places Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa within the context of an ongoing anticolonial struggle probably best described as an intergenerational land defense.

“Back in ‘59 they destroyed our fisheries here in Hagwilget,” she says. “The rock that they blasted out of a canyon destroyed our fisheries, so it took me all those years to get compensated for it.”

In 1959, the federal Department of Fisheries dynamited large boulders on the Bulkley River next to Hagwilget.

Yagalahl calls Hagwilget a village because it existed well before contact. But, she admits, it’s technically a reserve.

A rock slide exactly a century ago placed those boulders there. They obstructed the river in a way that made salmon easily accessible. When the feds blasted the rocks away it left Hagwilget without fish for 50 years. Yagalahl, known as Dora Wilson in English, was the elected chief in 2009 when Ottawa agreed to compensate them $21.5-million for that.

Floods, destruction of fisheries, and clear-cutting
were recent events for Yagalahl and Satsan. Roughly a century earlier in 1871, B.C. entered Confederation. In the same year, government made it illegal for First Nations to fish commercially. A smallpox epidemic hit First Nations communities in B.C. a year later and their right to vote in B.C. elections was simultaneously withdrawn.

In 1876, four years later, the Indian Act was passed.

The Act prohibited “Indians” from assembling in 1880, made the Feast Hall (potlatch) illegal in 1884, and established the Kuper Island, Kam- loops, and Williams Lake residential schools in 1890. Thirty years later – after rising tensions, increased settlement, and a 1918 Spanish Flu
epidemic – the Act made it illegal for “Indians” to raise money or hire lawyers to pursue land claims.

First Nations resisted these policies throughout. Nevertheless, due to those policies, epidemics, receding land bases, missionary activity by people like Father Morice – after whom much of the infrastructure remains named on the disputed lands – and other factors, the B.C. First Nations population reached its historical lowest point in the 1920s.

In the subsequent decades, government relaxed the most stringent bans. By 1951, “Indians” could once again fish commercially, conduct Feasts, and pursue land claims. First Nations kept organizing and looking for ways to assert land rights many had never ceded through treaty or willful surrender.

Pierre Trudeau’s government released the White Paper in 1969. The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs was formed in response. A decade later, chiefs and Elders from B.C. sent a delegation to England to lobby for inclusion of Aboriginal rights in the repatriated Canadian Constitution.

They got what they wanted in the form of Section 35(1): “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby
recognized and affirmed.”

The ink was barely dry on that 1982 document when the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs decided they were going to take their fight into the courts.

Prior to Delgamuukw-Gisday’wa, no one knew for certain what Section 35 meant.

Yagalahl was the vice president of the Gitx- san-Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council when the evidence gathering began in the mid ‘80s. Both nations had not yet set up the individual offices they maintain today.

“The chiefs – when they were talking about this case that was going to be happening – they had decided that I was going to work with the chiefs as part of a liaison team, that was called the litigation team, to work with the lawyers, and mainly work with the Wet’suwet’en,” she says.

“Even though I’m Gitxsan, I speak Wet’suwet’en, and I know so many of the Wet’suwet’en. I worked with them mainly in them selecting their witnesses that were going to be on the stand. It was a very, very interesting process where the chiefs really showed me what they mean by respect. You know? They respected one another when they were doing their selection of the witnesses that were going to take the stand.”

The Houses met regularly to discuss strategy and goals.

“Everything that we did was strategic. When we were doing blockades, we were very, very clear about what we wanted to accomplish with it. And we were also clear when we were in a position where we weren’t going to serve our own purpose [through blockades] then we would back out of the way but just kept the pressure on,” says Satsan.

They knew “the last place we’ve got to go is the courts,” and they prepared for it.

“So, as we were doing all this the evidence gathering was happening, the research was happening to prepare for a title action, and ultimately that’s what our people agreed to do. And so we prepared our case and our argument and we went into the court system.”

No one knew for certain what they were getting themselves into when they stepped into a Smithers courtroom on May 11, 1987 – where the chiefs, lawyers, and elders would be handed a stinging defeat four years later.

Tears were shed after that. But there were also moments of humour and joy.

Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en laws came into conflict with Canadian laws in a monumental case for which there was no real precedent.

But for Yagalahl, even when they lost, they won.

Once all was said and done, the histories of their peoples were written.

“It was quite an experience that I will always
never, never regret,” she says.

“If I had to do it again, I’d choose to do it.”