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First Nation partnership boosts employment on Alberta reserves

A new partnership between two First Nation communities has garnered attention in its ability to curb both unemployment and crime on Alberta’s largest reserve.

The Blood Tribe and Fort MacKay teamed up for the first Construction Training To Employment Program.

Blood Tribe councilor, Clayton Blood, says the nation-to-nation partnership is rare in Canada but has clearly paid off.

“Our workers have really brushed up on their work ethic. They’ve completed their projects four-to-one with other people. It’s also instilled a great pride in our people that they can do the job if they get the chance,” he adds.

The Blood Tribe is one of the largest reserves in Canada, but with work opportunities few and far between high unemployment is an unfortunate reality.

Fort MacKay on the other hand is north of Fort McMurray and according to the Project Coordinator, Wendelin Mistaken Chief, in need or laborers.

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“Success couldn’t even be measured right now because there have been so many positive benefits from it. Not only in their work ethic but in their personal lives as well,” she says.

In the first phase of the program 140 Blood Tribe members were trained in Standoff with help from Lethbridge College.

They received certifications and basic training in the construction field.

More than 90 members put their skills to the test in phase two in Fort MacKay.

Around 70 workers have since secured employment in Northern Alberta, with the remaining members transferring their skills back to work in Standoff.

Blood says the program’s success has gained the attention of other First Nation communities in Canada that are now looking to implement similar programs.

“It kind of breaks a few myths that our people are lazy or don’t want to work. They’ve demonstrated they do and are capable of working,” he adds.

Both communities are hoping to expand the project in the future.

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