Business Council of Manitoba hopes to expand new work experience program
CBC Indigenous: Two hundred post-secondary students have been awarded $3,000 each from the Business Council of Manitoba’s Indigenous Education Awards program this year.
Logan Mason moved from St.Theresa Point First Nation in northern Manitoba when he was a teenager to go to school in Winnipeg. Now he is a third-year accounting student at the University of Manitoba and an Indigenous Education Award recipient.
“Living in the city is so much different,” Mason said. “Out here it feels like you’re on your own.”
Mason said the support that came with this award motivated him to keep going, despite the challenges. “Every little bit helps.”
Last summer through the council’s new Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) program, Mason worked in the finance department at Transcona Roofing.
“I want to get a high level of skill and bring it back home and support my community,” said Mason.
The Business Council of Manitoba is made up of over 100 leaders of businesses. Since 2001, the council’s Indigenous Education Awards program has supported at least 3,000 students from 12 different accredited institutions in Manitoba, totalling almost $8 million.
In 2022, the council created the WIL program to connect businesses with Indigenous students looking for work during summers and after graduation. The businesses that participate in the WIL program also have mandatory cultural competency training.
Kendra Bouchie, the Indigenous Education Awards manager who is from Minegoziibe Anishinabe (formerly Pine Creek First Nation), was herself a recipient of an education award. She gave a speech at the council’s job fair Monday and said her experience through the WIL program as summer student co-ordinator at the council helped her score her current job with the council.
“When you look at me, I want you to know that you are looking at yourself,” Bouchie said. “Because I know your potential, just as the business council knew mine.”
‘I wish I had this opportunity’
Terry Brown, CEO of Okimaw Community and HR Solutions in Winnipeg and a member of Peguis First Nation, is the first Indigenous member of the business council and co-chair of the economic reconciliation committee. He said he joined three years ago because he saw the value and opportunity for First Nations with the award program.
“I wish I had this opportunity 25 years ago when I started,” said Brown.
Nine students did work placements in the first year. The aim this year is 80 students. Brown said next year’s goal is to extend the WIL program to high school students.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janell Henry is a proud member of the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation. Before coming to CBC in September 2022, she worked in the arts sector at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery. She studied writing at University of Winnipeg and audio in media at the Mid-Ocean School of Media Arts. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.