Indigenous youth in Regina shovelling their way to a better future

Good Neighbour Services, run through Regina’s North Central Community Association is a work-experience program that aims to hire Indigenous youth and give them an opportunity to gain new employment skills.

'It's about building confidence,' says director of North Central's Good Neighbour Services

Marty Rothermel (left) runs Good Neighbour Services, an employment skills program for Indigenous youth in Regina's North Central Neighbourhood. Raynan Redwood (right) says the opportunity to land his first job has made him 'feel more positive about [myself].' (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

When 17-year-old Raynan Redwood heads out to shovel a driveway, it's about more than clearing snow.

"The experience of going to work every day is really good for me because it feels like I'm actually putting in effort, putting food on the table for my son, and helping my mother pay bills because she is a single parent."  

Redwood is working with Good Neighbour Services, a work-experience program launched earlier this winter through Regina's North Central Community Association.

The program aims to hire Indigenous youth in the North Central neighbourhood and give them an opportunity to gain employment skills they might otherwise not have access to.

'It's about building confidence'

"Snow clearing is not a glamorous job, but it shows you're here every morning: a good work ethic," said Marty Rothermel, who runs the property maintenance program.

"With so many of the businesses and people in Regina that know about Good Neighbour Services, then we become that reference point, that stepping stone, for someone that doesn't have that."

Rothermel also runs a carpentry shop and is training Redwood and others to build fences and decks this summer.
Good Neighbour Services offers snow clearing services all over Regina. (Rachel Zelniker/CBC)

But he said the program is about more than just building a resumé.

"It's about building confidence. Once you see something and think 'Oh, I couldn't do that,' and then realize with proper guidance and confidence, 'Absolutely, I can do that' — that's huge for these kids."

According to Redwood, Rothermel's approach is making all the difference.

"I've been a bad person, but ever since working with Marty, he made me feel more positive about myself," he said.

Redwood hopes to eventually secure a "good paying job" but, for now, "this is a good experience and nothing better can happen than this."