Partnership to provide interactive education for Indigenous youth

(L to R): Saskatchewan Polytechnic's Paul Carter, Your Choice Homes' Jay Noel and FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron sign memoranda of understanding. (Saskatchewan Polytechnic/Submitted)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

‘This is working. It’s inspiring them.’ – Jay Noel

Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Your Choice Homes (YCHomes) are partnering to bring online construction training to Indigenous high school students.

YCHomes offers a practical arts program where Indigenous students build homes for their communities while earning high school credits and apprenticeship hours if they choose to pursue the trades.

Sask. Poly is now providing Construction Worker 101 and 202 classes to those students to maximize learning and reach a broader audience.

Each module teaches them about a different stage of the building process.

Jay Noel, who’s responsible for business development at YCHomes, said introducing responsibility at a younger age decreases vulnerability.

Without the program, he explained, youth come out of their communities to a larger centre, which is often their first outside interaction.

YCHomes offers a transitioning period.

“We’re trying to connect the disconnect and inspire the youth in the high school level that there are not only life experiences that you can have and enjoy but at the same time there’s respect for housing, respect for what goes into building it and the career options that come along with it,” he said.

The program also contains a module about financial literacy.

Students get a $500 bursary once they complete it and get deducted a certain amount if they’re late or don’t show up, for example.

Noel said in a previous initiative in Carry the Kettle First Nation, all three girls who signed up are now working in the trades.

“In demographics, that’s the hardest one to get is Aboriginal girls in the trades and this is working. It’s inspiring them,” he said.

On top of this, he said there haven’t been any students who have signed up for the program and not finished.

Sask. Poly’s dean for the School of Construction, Paul Carter, said the partnership is the perfect fit.

“That blended kind of learning, that practical learning is something that Saskatchewan Polytech has at its roots,” he said. “We’re able to reach different types of learning styles.”

He added they’re hoping to run the first course in early 2019.

On Wednesday afternoon, both Sask. Poly and YCHomes signed memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).

“These MOUs express shared interests and desired outcomes including fostering economic, cultural and social development and increasing accessibility for Indigenous students to post-secondary education,” said a Sask. Poly news release.

For more information on YCHomes, visit www.yourchoicehomesinc.com.