Posts By: Mira Williamson

Indigenous Youth Explore the Forest and Conservation Sector Through Green Jobs Program

Have you ever wondered about a day in the life of forester? A biologist? A bird bander?

About 130 Indigenous youth across Canada are learning about these green jobs virtually.

Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) is hosting three “Green Jobs: A Day in the Life” webinars for the Outland Youth Employment Program (OYEP). OYEP is a national network of land-based education, training and work opportunities for Indigenous high school students. This year, they couldn’t visit job sites because of COVID-19.

So, PLT Canada brought the job sites to them.

Employers filmed typical days on the job, which PLT Canada edited into short, fun clips. OYEP camps tune in to watch the videos, meet the professionals behind them and learn more about Green Jobs. 

“[This] is a great idea and will encourage many,” said Catherine Langille, OYEP crew leader in training. “I am happy to be involved with the rangers, and with PLT Canada. As a team, we are glad that we got the opportunity to ask questions over the Zoom call!”

PLT Canada, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and OYEP signed a memorandum of understanding in 2019 to develop more services to meaningfully support Indigenous youth in their education and careers. Through PLT Canada’s Green Jobs program, OYEP has grown from three to six camps, employing over 100 Indigenous youth every summer. 

“Helping youth discover their passions and how those can lead to a career can truly be life changing, and PLT Canada has been instrumental in supporting these opportunities,” said Hamish Black, OYEP Coordinator West.

PLT Canada, an initiative of SFI, works closely with First Nations and non-profit partners like OYEP to tailor its environmental education and employment programs to meet local needs and co-create positive change.

With communities’ feedback, PLT Canada has developed an evolving suite of programs and services to better support youth’s Green Job experiences. This includes pre-employment skills courses, mental health services, mentorship and financial supports, like an equipment subsidy and the Green Skills Training Fund, which provides flexibility for Indigenous communities to design and deliver forest-focused training opportunities.

Langille, who is from Seine River First Nation, has taken advantage of many of PLT Canada’s programs: she was hired into a Green Job, received a scholarship to attend a conference, and participated in the mentorship program.

Langille said her mentor has made her more aware of the opportunities awaiting her in the forest and conservation sector.

“Before meeting with my mentor, my ideas were slightly unclear,” she said. “I am so happy to be a part of this. The knowledge I have gained will last me a lifetime, and so will the connection with my mentor!”

PLT Canada also published “A Guide to Green Jobs in Canada: Voices of Indigenous Professionals” to showcase inspiring leaders and role models for Indigenous youth. The Guide is available in English and French and has been translated into Anishinaabemowen and Plains Cree.

“Indigenous Peoples are Canada’s original forest and conservation professionals. They shape every facet of the sector, creating even more opportunity for their communities and for the next generation of leaders,” said Paul Robitaille, Senior Manager, Indigenous and Youth Relations, PLT Canada. “We hope to inspire even more young people to find a place for themselves in the forest with their stories.”

PLT Canada has placed more than 500 Indigenous youth from over 80 different Nations into  high quality work experiences—many of whom found placements in their own communities. First Nations, First Nations businesses and community-serving non-profits are all eligible to receive 50% wage matching. Youth and employers can learn more at pltcanada.org!

Screen grab from one of PLT Canada’s “A Day in the Life” videos created for OYEP. Pictured is Laura Trout, a Professional Biologist with West Fraser. Laura works alongside local stakeholders and interest groups and has been a part of major fish habitat restoration programs and collaborations in Alberta since 2014.

Under the Northern Sky

Xavier Kataquapit

I come from a large family with eight siblings. My mom Susan and my dad Marius certainly had a lot of challenges in caring for such a large group of children. These days as I find myself with some time during this pandemic I drift back to an earlier time when I was a child at home in Attawapiskat and I think about all the work my parents had to do to raise us.

Life for my parents when they were growing up was hard as they lived mostly on the land, with little education that came with the trauma of attending the residential school system and living at home in conditions that were less than perfect. Mom worked for many years in the kitchen of the local hospital and she learned some skills that made her a great cook. Dad was always a hard worker and although he had ventured out from the community for a time here and there working mostly on the railroad and in forestry, his love was doing his own thing. He was always coming up with a new project as part of his work in building, fixing, transportation and construction.

I have enough trouble caring for myself so I can’t imagine what a huge job it was for my parents to provide for such a huge family. I recall mom washing clothes every day. We had a huge home built hamper in the house and it was always full of our dirty laundry. I rarely saw the bottom of that hamper as mom worked every day to do the washing and keep us in clean clothes. She also had to cook all our meals, clean the house, tend to shopping and arranging for supplies and making sure we were all behaving. She was a supermom no doubt about that.

I wonder these days what she and dad would have thought if they had lived long enough to experience this pandemic. It occurs to me that disease, discomfort, critical life challenges and hardship was something they were very accustomed to and they might see this pandemic as just another turn in the trail of life. Somehow, even with all of the hard work and challenges my parents had to face in their lives I know that most of the time they were happy. They felt they had a purpose in life and they went to work every day to provide for their family and to be good friends and neighbours.

These days many of us are complaining about having to deal with the dangers of Covid19 and the challenges we have to live through every day. Many of us are upset we have to wear masks in public, we don’t want to understand that we have to stay two meters from others, we are fed up with washing our hands and not being able to move about freely. However, at the same time our governments are helping us financially, we are mostly in the comfort of our homes, we have all kinds of devices we can use to communicate with others and we can be entertained by all kinds of media 24 hours a day. Most of us in Canada are eating well, staying employed to a great degree and we know that if we do get sick with this virus that we have a health care system that is open to us all.

I think my mom and dad if they were still living would advise us all to just take this pandemic seriously, follow the rules set out by expert virologists and keep our family and friends safe. They would remind us to be thankful for all that we have and for the fact that we are living in a free and democratic country. I am sure they would give anything to be able to come back and enjoy life no matter what the challenges are. They would love to see their children, grandchildren, family and friends and to breath the fresh northern air. To be alive and well and to wake to the sounds of birds, a good breakfast, enjoying family and friends would be just fine with them even with the challenge of dealing with this pandemic.

My parents understood how precious life was and how short it could be and I remember their teachings on being aware of this and to be thankful for every day, even with all the challenges that come along. Soon enough all of us will be gone and this magic we call life will be no more. It is us up us to remember how wonderful life is while we are in this world. Pandemic be damned.

www.underthenorthernsky.com

Top Canadian CEOs share career advice for people job hunting during the pandemic

After saving for years, taking out student loans and hundreds of hours spent in lectures hunched over term papers, many students are finally finishing their university or college programs to only enter a bleak workplace that has been decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New grads, and those who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic, are facing a tough labour market in the wake of ongoing lockdown measures and company cutbacks.

But while the prospects may look grim, some of Canada’s best minds in business say job hunters should be looking to take advantage of the situation to set themselves apart from the crowd.

BNN Bloomberg spoke with some of Canada’s top chief executives for their advice to those on the job hunt during challenging economic times.

Jim Pattison, chairman and CEO, The Jim Pattison Group

“I would go into something that I like – I wouldn’t go into something that is necessarily the most money at the minute. I would go into something that I really enjoyed and that I could grow in.

I would continue to get the best education I could, as long as I could afford to go, that’s what I would do. Once you get your education, you know, it’s an easy load to carry so the more education that you get, the stronger that I would encourage young people to stay with it as long as they could. And the ones that decided that they can’t for whatever reason or don’t wish to, then I would recommend that they go into a business that they really will enjoy being in.”

Don Walker, CEO, Magna International Inc.

“What you did during the pandemic lockdown is a question interviewers may ask graduates looking for their first job.  You can look at situations like this as a problem or an opportunity.  Employers want motivated, high-energy, positive problem-solvers. 

Hopefully you took the time to decide what is important to you, decide how to get there, develop a plan and stay focused.  We all have limited time.  Having a plan for your life and moving forward is critical.  But you also must be flexible and be ready to pivot by taking the skills you’ve learned and applying them in a new way.”

Bruce Flatt, CEO, Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

“Many great businesses and careers are launched or reimagined in times of dislocation. Those starting out in their careers today have an incredible opportunity to initiate the next wave of innovation and successful businesses as we come out of this.

We always tell young people not to underestimate the importance of perseverance in periods of adversity, and of focusing on both the opportunities that change brings, and on the positive impact they can have on the world.”

Heather Reisman, CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.

“Try to find an opportunity in a company whose mission you admire – and whose leadership team you admire.  Be willing to take any job to start if it is at a company you really want to work for and then bring your very best self to work every day.  People with talent and a real passion to contribute always get recognized and grow quickly in quality organizations. 

In uncovering job opportunities – use whatever ‘network’ you have – profs, family, friends, a person you know at your favourite brand.  Don’t be shy – people are generally very happy to help!”

Mark Little, president and CEO, Suncor Energy Inc.

“In your career, you’re going to be faced with things that go really well and things that don’t. Being resilient while handling failures will set you apart from others. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on by focusing on developing the skills you lack. COVID has just emphasized how important this is!

Curiosity and creativity are also key. Everything you work on is a piece of a much bigger puzzle. Take the initiative to expand your understanding of how everything connects. People who are able to see four or five steps ahead are able to come up with super innovative solutions.”

Nancy Southern, chair and CEO, ATCO Ltd.

“Your graduation represents the key to your future. Your future success, however, will continue to be based on the same characteristics and qualities that allowed you to graduate during this difficult time: hard work and perseverance.

I encourage each of you to dream big, stay curious and courageous, never give up and strive for the highest standards in all that you do. I wish you the best of success, good health and much happiness.”

JJ Ruest, president and CEO, Canadian National Railway Co.

“I would encourage anyone looking for work to look at where economic trends are heading, and then try to ride the trend. For instance, the North American economy is slowly moving away from manufacturing and progressively heading to a service-based economy, which leads to career opportunities in industries that enable that shift. International trade, e-commerce, and advanced carbon-efficient supply chains are more critical than ever, offering new and uncharted career experiences for those who seek them.

I also always encourage people to bet on the economic enabling infrastructures that will always be needed, but to do so through the lens of: ‘How can technology enhance them?’ In a time when tech ‘disruptors’ are changing the face of business at an accelerated pace, what are the businesses that are leveraging those innovations to improve the way they are doing business? Knowing how to improve your operations, even if they are centuries young, is the key to prospering and a smart way to grow.”

Dave McKay, president and CEO, Royal Bank of Canada

“As we’ve seen this year, change is needed in so many aspects of our society – on building a more inclusive society, on combatting climate change, on reimagining how we educate and train our workforce, and how we protect the health and well-being of our communities, education and on healthcare.

I’m incredibly confident the skills this year’s graduates across the country have gained at school will not remain on the sidelines, especially because the world moves much faster than it did when I joined RBC as a young co-op student many years ago.

My advice to every grad out there is if you see a problem, don’t wait for someone else to solve it. If you see change is needed in society, reimagine a better future, and then take the lead. Our world has never needed the curiosity and contributions of new post-secondary grads more.”

Courtesy of: BNN Bloomberg

MOA Presents Kent Monkman’s Exhibition on Canada’s Colonial Legacy — Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience

VANCOUVER BC — The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC announces Kent Monkman’s timely solo exhibition Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, on display from August 6, 2020 to January 3, 2021. A searing critique of Canada’s colonial policies over the past 150 years, the large-scale exhibition prioritizes First Nations’ perspectives during a pivotal moment in the ongoing global discourse on systemic racism. Curated by Monkman — a contemporary Canadian artist of Cree ancestry — the provocative exhibition features roughly 80 pieces, including the artist’s own paintings, drawings, installations, and sculptures, in dialogue with historical artifacts and artworks borrowed from museums and private collections from across Canada. MOA is the final stop on the acclaimed exhibition’s three-year, cross-country tour. 

“The last 150 years have been the most devastating for Indigenous peoples in this country,” says Monkman. “And yet I could not think of any historical paintings that conveyed or authorized the Indigenous experience in the art history milieu. Where are the paintings from the 19th century that recounted, with passion and empathy, the dispossession, starvation, incarceration, and genocide of Indigenous peoples? Shame and Prejudice activates a vital dialogue about the impact of European settler cultures on Indigenous peoples and about Indigenous resilience.” 

MOA’s curatorial liaison for the exhibition, Dr. Jennifer Kramer says: “MOA is honoured to present Shame and Prejudice, particularly in these times of protest and resistance against the oppression of marginalized peoples. This exhibition is a ‘restorying’ that transforms the familiar nationalist myth of British-French settlers discovering a new world ripe for possession and resource extraction into a counter-narrative focused on Indigenous strength, healing, and resurgence. Shame and Prejudice is part of a continuum of work at MOA that showcases Indigenous voices through contemporary art and social discourse.” 

The exhibition premiered at the Art Museum at the University of Toronto in January 2017, in an iconoclastic commentary on Canada’s sesquicentennial. Appropriating European aesthetic traditions from Caravaggio’s realism to Manet’s impressionism and Picasso’s cubism, the artist’s series of paintings, drawings, and installations takes aim at the stereotypes of Indigenous peoples perpetuated in popular culture and high art. Through a darkly humorous narrative — told through the omniscient perspective of Monkman’s two-spirited alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle — Monkman boldly confronts the devastation of colonialism while also celebrating the resilient spirit of Indigenous peoples. 

Guided by Miss Chief’s excerpted memoirs, visitors will embark on a time-travelling journey through Canada’s history — from the fur trade and confederation to the rise of residential schools and impoverished realities of contemporary urban life. Nine distinct chapters explore themes of colonization, incarceration, loss, violence, and resilience through Monkman’s visceral representations of historical traumas and injustices, which continue to impact Indigenous communities today. 

In many of the exhibition’s works, Monkman employs the glamorous Miss Chief to reverse the colonial gaze, upending traditional ideas of Canadian history. In the tongue-in-cheek sculptural installation, Scent of a Beaver (2017), based on Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s rococo masterpiece, The Swing, Miss Chief — clad in an opulent silk and fur gown — is the object of adoration by a French and English general. The work dissects the power dynamics at play in the shaping of the fur-based economy of early North America. Miss Chief’s trickster presence takes a decidedly more provocative turn in The Daddies (2016), an irreverent interpretation of Robert Harris’ 1884 painting The Fathers of Confederation. Here, Canada’s forefathers are gathered to admire a naked Miss Chief — posed atop a striped Hudson’s Bay blanket — subverting Canada’s confederation with an empowered representation of Indigenous sexuality.  

While Monkman employs satirical humour to undermine the white-washing of Canada’s past, his commentary takes a poignant tone when exploring the loss and violence experienced by Indigenous women and children. In Death of the Virgin (After Caravaggio) (2016), a replication of the baroque master’s painting of the same name, Monkman replaces Caravaggio’s virgin with a young Indigenous woman, in a commentary on the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The artist also takes on residential schools — one of Canada’s most shameful atrocities — in The Scream (2017)a jarring depiction of the forceful removal of Indigenous infants and children from their homes. The policy’s tragic consequences are further illuminated with a display of Indigenous cradleboards juxtaposed with chalk outlines of missing traditional baby carriers.  

One of the main themes running throughout the exhibition is the historical Indigenous experience of moving from a state of plenty to a state of deprivation. Pre-colonial bounty is represented through a frequent motif of beavers, bison, and bears, while Monkman’s installation Starvation Table (2017) depicts the ravages of colonial greed. One end of the dining table is dressed with items obtained from various museum collections — fine china, silverware, and table settings filled with fruit and wine — which gives way to the opposite end of simple platters and plates filled with nothing more than bison bones. 

The exhibition also includes a modern-day urban setting where an Indigenous spirituality is evoked to protect against the contemporary dangers of assault, inequality, and despair. In Monkman’s series of paintings set in his native city of Winnipeg, including Struggle for Balance (2013), Bad Medicine (2014), and Le Petit déjeuner sur l’herbe (2014), the artist depicts battles between Indigenous spirit animals such as bears and eagles and the hardship of contemporary life, often including violence, poverty, and crime. Here, women are depicted as flattened, Picasso-esque figures, representing the continued violence against them. 

Lauded for his fearless commentary on critical issues relating to life for Indigenous people in Canada, Toronto-based Monkman is one of Canada’s best-known contemporary artists. As an artist, he has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Art Gallery of Hamilton. In 2019, he unveiled two new works at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, where he was praised for having “flipped a conventional, disempowering idea of Native victimhood on its head” (The New York Times). 

Pre-booked timed-entry tickets to MOA (which includes admission to this exhibition) will be required. Tickets on sale July 21 at: moa.ubc.ca 

About MOA (moa.ubc.ca) 

The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is world-renowned for its collections, research, teaching, public programs and community connections. Founded in 1949 in the basement of the Main Library at UBC, its mission is to inspire an understanding of and respect for world arts and cultures. Today, Canada’s largest teaching museum is located in a spectacular Arthur Erickson-designed building overlooking mountains and sea. MOA’s worldwide collections consist of more than 42,000 cultural objects and artworks created in Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe and the Americas — with a focus on the Pacific Northwest. MOA’s Multiversity Galleries provide public access to more than 9,000 of these objects and artworks. The Audain Gallery and the O’Brian Gallery, MOA’s temporary exhibition spaces, showcase travelling exhibitions, as well as those developed in-house. 

LISTING INFORMATION
MOA presents Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience 

Dates: August 6, 2020 to January 3, 2021 
Address: Museum of Anthropology 
University of British Columbia 
6393 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, BC 
Website: moa.ubc.ca 

Death of the Virgin (After Caravaggio). By Kent Monkman, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 72” x 51”. Collection of Donald R. Sobey.
Death of the Virgin (After Caravaggio). By Kent Monkman, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 72” x 51”. Collection of Donald R. Sobey.
Le Petit déjeuner sur l’herbe. By Kent Monkman, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 84” x 126”. Collection of Peters Projects (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA).
Le Petit déjeuner sur l’herbe. By Kent Monkman, 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 84” x 126”. Collection of Peters Projects (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA).
Nativity Scene. By Kent Monkman, 2017. Mixed Media Installation. Collection of Museum London, gift of the Volunteer Committee (1956–2017).
Nativity Scene. By Kent Monkman, 2017. Mixed Media Installation. Collection of Museum London, gift of the Volunteer Committee (1956–2017).
The Daddies. By Kent Monkman, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 60” x 112.5”. Collection of Christine Armstrong and Irfhan Rawji.
The Daddies. By Kent Monkman, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 60” x 112.5”. Collection of Christine Armstrong and Irfhan Rawji.
The Massacre of the Innocents. By Kent Monkman, 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 72” x 102”. Collection of John Bilton.
The Massacre of the Innocents. By Kent Monkman, 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 72” x 102”. Collection of John Bilton.
The Scream. By Kent Monkman, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 84” x 126”. Collection of the Denver Art Museum, Native Arts acquisition fund.
The Scream. By Kent Monkman, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 84” x 126”. Collection of the Denver Art Museum, Native Arts acquisition fund.

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.

Messaging

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

Notes

– 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.

To Speak with a Golden Voice

Bill Reid in his studio 1982. Photo by Robert Keziere
 

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art celebrates the milestone centennial birthday of Bill Reid (1920–1998) with an exhibition about his extraordinary life and legacy, To Speak With a Golden Voice, from July 16, 2020 to April 11, 2021. Guest curated by Gwaai Edenshaw — considered to be Reid’s last apprentice — the group exhibition includes rarely seen treasures by Reid and works from artists such as Robert Davidson and Beau Dick. Tracing the iconic Haida artist’s lasting influence, two new artworks by contemporary artist Cori Savard (Haida) and singer-songwriter Kinnie Starr (Mohawk/Dutch/German//Irish) will be created for this highly anticipated exhibition.

“Bill Reid was a master goldsmith, sculptor, community activist, and mentor whose lasting legacy and influence has been cemented by his fusion of Haida traditions with his own modernist aesthetic,” says Edenshaw. “Just about every Northwest Coast artist working today has a connection or link to Reid. Before he became renowned for his artwork, he was a CBC radio announcer recognized for his memorable voice — in fact, one of Reid’s many Haida names was Kihlguulins, or ‘golden voice.’ His role as a public figure helped him become a pivotal force in the resurgence of Northwest Coast art, introducing the world to its importance and empowering generations of artists.”

Reid was born in Victoria, BC, to a Haida mother and an American father with Scottish-German roots. He began exploring his Haida heritage at the age of 23, starting a journey of discovery that would last a lifetime. He studied jewelry making while working at CBC in Toronto, but it wasn’t until a trip to Haida Gwaii in 1954 that his creative trajectory shifted irreversibly. His time on the island introduced him to the work of his great-great-uncle Charles Edenshaw (no relation to Gwaai Edenshaw), inspiring him to create new works out of his ancestor’s sketches. Reid became known for making exquisitely detailed pieces, which were eventually translated into larger formats as he moved into monumental carvings. Some of his most iconic works today include Chief of the Undersea World, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, and Raven and the First Men.

To Speak With a Golden Voice will provide new insights into the nuanced facets and creative complexities of Reid’s life and legacy. The exhibition will follow four thematic threads, beginning with Voice, a look at Reid’s career at CBC and his prolific writings, including archival recordings of his thoughts on Northwest Coast art. Voice will be central to the exhibition, including audio narratives, literary excerpts, and a commissioned sound-based artwork by Kinnie Starr that incorporates Reid’s voice.

The second thread will be an examination of Reid’s creative journey, or Process, which was affected by the many colonial policies still in place during the 1950s when he began exploring his heritage. The exhibition will include rarely seen sketchbooks, drawings, paper maquettes, casting molds, and works in progress from private and public collections.

The third thread will be a study of Lineage, with works by Reid’s contemporaries and the successors who considered him an influence. Artists will include Robert Davidson, Beau Dick and Joe David, as well as others who never met Reid but found inspiration in his life and career. Haida artist Cori Savard will create a new work based on Reid’s deep-rooted impact on Indigenous and Haida art.

In the final thread of Legacy, Reid’s multi-faceted and occasionally controversial life will be given fresh perspective. Departing from the public persona and staid portrait of the artist, the exhibition will provide new insights through the voices and stories of those who personally knew him. Short films featuring interviews with George Rammell, Don Yeomans, Rick Adkins, Chief 7idansuu James Hart, and more will be on display.

The gallery will publish a new exhibition catalogue in the fall of 2020 with essays by curator Edenshaw, Nika Collison, Martine Reid, and more.

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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

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; kathleenm@siksikahealth.com or
Mr. Faron Melting Tallow (403) 324-7786; (403) 734-0083 or
Mr. Thurman Little Light (403) 901-8808