A central Saskatchewan First Nation has announced its partnership with a Corrections Service of Canada program — CORCAN — which helps inmates gain work experience.
One of the companies from Mosquito Grizzly Bear’s Head Lean Man (MGBHLM) First Nation’s economic development corporation is working with the program giving convicts a chance to learn a skilled trade.
The company is a home builder and was set up to try and drive the nation towards a stronger economic stance for its government as well as its members.
“We’ve had a history of always outsiders coming in and doing things for us,” Chief Tanya Aguilar-Antiman said. “We want to encourage and promote believing in your own and building that capacity within your own membership.”
The corporation was set up around two years ago.
It has since created seven companies and three non-profit organizations totaling 77 employees between them all.
The MGBHLM economic development corporation’s CEO hopes all of them can work in tandem to bring something different to the region.
“It will be building better communities not only within our First Nations, but non-First Nations,” Grant Beaudry added.
The corporation teamed up with CORCAN for the home developer as it established a show home in Battleford, Sask.
The program’s CEO noted around 10 CORCAN participants helped in different parts of construction as carpenters, electricians and plumbers.
“It means a lot to them to learn the skills to be able to work towards a better employment situation, but also to be building homes that are going to be in communities that need them,” Kelly Hartle told Global News.
She noted CORCAN has worked with other Indigenous communities before on similar projects, but there were parts of the MGBHLM proposal which were unique.
A federal government report completed in February 2020 found Indigenous people in Saskatchewan’s prisons made up around 65 per cent of the inmates.
That was more than double the national average.
Aguilar-Antiman noted their board wanted to set up a program to help people who feel they aren’t given a chance and that many of the nation’s members can relate to their situation.
“It’s really not only reconciliation, but it’s really restorative justice,” she said.
Beaudry noted the homes the company builds will be sold through the company.