Nfld. & Labrador

Innu Education Board steps up recruitment drive for teachers to come to Labrador

With several job openings for teaching in Labrador, the board is on a recruiting spree.

Education board looking for candidates fresh out of university

Rena Penashue, assistant director of human resources for the Innu education Board, visited Memorial University in St. John's on Thursday as part of a recruitment drive to bring prospective teachers to Labrador. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

With several job openings for teaching in Labrador, the Innu Education Board is on a recruiting spree.

The board hopes the recruitment drive will fill some of those vacant jobs — or at least draw curiosity from potential interested applicants — because they're finding it difficult to not only draw teachers to communities such as Sheshatshiu and Natuashish, but also keeping them there in the long-term.

Rena Penashue, the assistant director of human resources with the Innu Education Board, said the education board is under the gun this year in staffing teachers in Natuashish specifically.

"Some people just aren't able to deal with remoteness, so isolation does play a factor in our Natuashish school," Penashue told CBC Radio's On The Go

"We want people that are enthusiastic, that love the outdoors, love children, love the North, love Labrador."

Interest is up despite vacancies, checkered past

Penashue, in St. John's recruiting at Memorial University, said her efforts are going well in terms of raising interest. Potential applicants have asked her questions about what Natuashish has to offer, and what kind of benefits the education board has to offer. 

Successful applicants can expect a salary that follows the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, according to Penashue.

A booth set up at Memorial University on Thursday promotes the several teaching job openings available in Labrador. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

On top of that is a living allowance, travel allowance, fully furnished home complete with utilities, and a remote allowance for those in Natuashish.

"One of the challenges that we have is that people generally don't know where the location is they're going to in Labrador," she said.

"It's unique. You're really in touch with the environment. The Innu culture is vibrant, the language is vibrant."

However, Penashue said, she doesn't sugarcoat answers to any questions about a checkered history of Netuashish, which includes violent crime, substance abuse and a high suicide rate.

"It's going to come up.… we don't say it never happened. There's a lot of great, positive stories in both communities. We have positive role models," she said.

"Our focus is the student and making them become successful in whatever career path they choose, and finish their education most importantly." 

Graduation rates have increased over the last year or more, Penashue added.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

With files from On The Go, Here & Now