Sudbury

Pilot project combines apprenticeship training, Indigenous teachings for Sudbury youth

There's a new pilot program in Sudbury that's combining pre-apprenticeship training with traditional Anishnaabe teachings.

Miskwaawaak Arbor Project offered by Future North, in partnership with friendship centre, carpenters union

The nine youth who are participating in the Miskwaawaak Arbor Project in Sudbury will build a model similar to this one. The pilot project runs for seven weeks and combined pre-apprenticeship training and Anishnaabe teachings. (Supplied by Future North)

There's a new pilot program in Sudbury that's combining pre-apprenticeship training with traditional Anishnaabe teachings.

Nine youth, ages 15-30, are currently enrolled in the Miswaawaak Arbor Project. Miswaawaak means red cedar in Anishinaabemowin.

The participants will spend seven weeks learning new skills in trades, as well as connecting with their culture and the Indigenous community.

The pilot program is through Future North, which is a federally-funded initiative that helps youth with education and employment. Partners in the project include the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre and Local 2486 of the Carpenters union.

The final build within the project will see the youth create a traditional arbour or gazebo on sacred ground, property owned by the friendship centre near the town of Wahnapitae.

The Miskwaawaak Arbor Project will see a traditional arbor built on sacred ground owned by the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre, near the town of Wahnapitae in Greater Sudbury. (Supplied by Future North)

The youth will work with trainers from the carpenters union, as well as elders from the First Nation communities.

"By incorporating those tangible skills for the workforce, as well as the on-the-land teachings and the traditional Anishnaabe teachings, we're hoping to provide that real sense of connection for youth participants to learn about what's out there in their community," said Nicole Minialoff, program manager at Future North. 

"But also about how they can connect more to their heritage, to their peers and elders. Also, the trainers are the union halls," she added.

We're hoping to provide that real sense of connection for youth participants to learn about what's out there in their community, but also how they can connect more to their heritage, peers and elders.- Nicole Minialoff, program manager Future North in Sudbury

Minialoff says the combination of apprenticeship training and Anishnaabe teachings is what drew most of the current participants to the project

"They felt it was a really well-rounded approach to learning about themselves, their culture and those employment skills that are really essential for launching their careers," she said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the original plans for the project had to be altered.

"Initially, we had planned a full day out on the land to launch, but we were able to get creative and have the youth start with their in-class portion of their training," Minialoff said.

Two trainers from the Carpenters Union are helping the youth work toward certifications in areas like Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), working at heights, confined space awareness, and health and safety in four steps.

"This week they'll start to transition into working on some in-class, more hands-on projects, where they'll begin to work on a better understanding of some general health and safety around the use of power tools and starting to prepare for the larger build," Minialoff said.

Unfortunately, due to the current price of lumber and other materials, Minialoff says they've had to order a prefabricated model that the youth will assemble for their final project. 

"All of the pieces will come and the youth will work with the trainers to look at the drawings, look at the assembly instructions and work together to install the beams, install the sauna tubes, prepare the base and also install the cedar shingles on the roof," she said.

At the end of the seven week program, the youth will have a number of different certifications, new trade skills, and some new connections throughout the community and in their careers.

They will also have worked together to finish the traditional arbour. Plus, Minialoff says the youth will also build their own personal hand drums.

"So at the end of the project, not only will they have those employment skills and also hopefully those meaningful connections with their peers, they'll also go away with a personal hand drum and sort of a toolkit of all of the different tools that they needed throughout the project."

With files from Angela Gemmill

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