PEI

$250K for skills program will help Native Council of P.E.I. 'bridge gaps'

The Native Council of P.E.I. is getting $250,000 from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to go toward its Indigenous Skills and Employment program.

‘I'm very excited that we can help more people’ 

'For me this is about providing opportunity to change your life' says Lisa Cooper, president and chief of the Native Council of P.E.I. (Laura Chapin/CBC)

The Native Council of P.E.I. is getting $250,000 from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to go toward its Indigenous Skills and Employment program.

The council usually receives about $160,000, said Lisa Cooper, chief and president of the Native Council of P.E.I. which represents people living off-reserve.

"I'm very excited that we can help more people. And these are going to be youth or elders or people who want to go back to school. As long as you live off-reserve."

The money will go toward everything from helping with university and college tuition fees to occupational health and safety training to paying for work boots, Cooper said.

You know if you have a passion for dog grooming, we can help fill that passion. If you want to be a plumber we can help fill that.- Lisa Cooper, Native Council of P.E.I.

"For me this is about providing opportunity to change your life. It's about providing education so that you can contribute to the economy and be proud of it."

'We can help fill that passion'

The program has funded post-secondary programs for students, such as nursing, education and the trades, Cooper said, and the council will try and fill any need.

"You know if you have a passion for dog grooming, we can help fill that passion. If you want to be a plumber we can help fill that."

In rural areas it is really really much harder because you are looking at fishing and farming.— Lisa Cooper, Native Council of P.E.I.

The money allows the council to "bridge gaps," Cooper said.

"If somebody is missing, say a driver's licence, we can help you know, get that driver's licence. If they are missing training in say, CPR or first aid, we can help with that as well."

Training for rural employment

Cooper said she believes this is the largest single amount of funding ever given by the Congress to an affiliate organization and will allow the council to do more in rural areas.

"In rural areas it is really really much harder because you are looking at fishing and farming."

A portion of the funding will be used for occupational health and safety training for fishermen, the council has its own fishing corporation, Cooper said.

"They'll then be able to drive their own fishing boats."

Cooper said the waiting list is long for the Indigenous Skills and Employment program.

"We still have people coming in that are looking for university."

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With files from Angela Walker

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