The program was developed to assist clients with gaining access to training, education, and skills development opportunities. We provide opportunities for Indigenous people to work on school, resumes, or practice for interviews, and eliminate barriers due to discrimination.
Vision: help Indigenous people improve their employability, achieve meaningful employment, and maintain their employment.
The Apatisiwin Program is a provincial program from the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) that is tailored locally. The Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre is one of many delivery sites of the program.
Our Approach: we need to have eligible clients (unemployed or under-employed, have a SIN, be 15+ years old, identify as First Nations). We have to be careful around our promotions – we want to find clients that fit the eligibility criteria, and we want to find the right employer who will hire our clients (they might need help with a wage subsidy – which we can help them with). We help the employer and employee meet halfway (make partnership).
The Apatisiwin Program is a personal community initiative. We are learning as we go along – we are always keeping an eye/ear open for opportunities or jobs in the community. We approach every opportunity with cautious optimism.
Stan Legarde, Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre
(807) 345-5840 x.9086
401 Cumberland Street N Thunder Bay ON P7A 4P7
The overall impact is the people who go through the program and gain employment, continue to be employed 1-2 years later, or are on an upswing. Whatever they’ve done here with the program has helped them transition to their next step.
We complete quarterly reports, narrative reports, budget reporting, and reports to our board and the OFIFC.
We highlight success stories when they emerge to promote how well the program is doing in the community.
It can be a steep learning curve getting into the role of coordinating the program, and learning different strategies
There are challenges around the daily life difficulties in the program – for participants, finding your way into a job, and for the program, finding a way to help people.
The challenges have been people, but that’s the nature of the work – overall people present themselves respectfully and realistically.
We overcome these challenges by always learning, and knowing where to ask for help (e.g. manager)
– Take the time with clients – it’s prudent to make an appointment and be thorough with them (basically the role of a counsellor).
– Time management – keep this on top of mind and keep realistic commitments
– Keep on top of communication – make sure communications are maintained, ongoing, and timely (e.g. with program clients, employers, or partners). Know where to send inquiries or questions if you don’t’ have the answer
Incorporation of Essential Skills
We promote essential skills as much as possible for clients when they come in.
We run workshops for ES / a number of skills that are often tied back to employment – e.g., continuous learning and the job market, digital skills & social media, applying reading and document use to writing a resume. We also run workshops focused on career and employment, and workshops on history.
Participants’ essential skills assessments are captured through our quarterly written reports. When clients come back to us if they haven’t been successful, we keep notes. On the program side, we keep an eye on essential skills in the Labour Market and different tools out there (e.g. Shapr), and shifts in the environment (e.g. political, technological). We need to know what skills are needed to best prepare our clients.
Where appropriate in the program, we will instill a cultural teaching or ethic. We will also provide cultural activities if our client asks (i.e., smudging) Most of our clients are Anishinaabe.
We promote cultural competency – Indigenous students know what to expect in mainstream society/workplace, and employers should know Indigenous culture to better serve that clientele.
– Very advocate-minded person
– Open minded
– Good listener
– On top of things / organized
– Know what key issues are and what people are doing to address them
– Total consideration & respect for clients
– Most important is their work ethic – they are always looking for something to do or someway to help, but also know when to refrain or step back
Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre – 10 programs and different departments that we work with (e.g., all ages, promotions, healing & wellness, finance department)
Legal Aid Office
City of Thunder Bay
Local Agencies – especially social services, anyone who is involved in children’s/youth services – we do referrals or share information
Ontario Native Women’s Association – they come in to do programming, share information and resources, or for special occasions
Education Councils & Tribal Councils