Urban aboriginal women making 'strong gains' in employment, report says

A new study says urban aboriginal women are the only demographic in Canada to see an increase in employment rates since 2007.
While a TD Bank study finds that urban aboriginal women are the only demographic to see an increase in employment since the recession, employment counsellor Rachael George says unemployment on reserve is still high. (Marina Von Stackelberg/CBC)

A new study says urban aboriginal women are the only demographic in Canada to see an increase in employment rates since 2007 — and they're finding jobs in highly skilled, knowledge-based industries like education and finance.

"These higher quality jobs have higher educational expectations," said study author Brian DePratt, an economist with TD Bank.
TD Bank economist Brian DePratt wrote the report looking at employment rates among Aboriginal women. (TD Bank)

"As we've seen these strong gains in educational performance, it's only logical that would translate into gains in employment."

But, an employment coordinator at the N'Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury said the same is not true for those living on reserve, where unemployment rates remain high.

"A lot of individuals who come [to Sudbury] for school end up staying here and finding work in this area," Rachael George  said.

"But then some always go back home where there's usually not a whole lot of employment opportunities."

George has helped aboriginal people find jobs for the last 13 years.

She noted that about three quarters of her clients are now male.

"We service more men than women. So hopefully that just goes to show that the women are finding employment all on their own," she said.

George agreed that more aboriginal women are seeking formal education.

"We're finding a lot of aboriginal women are going back to school and getting their education even late in life."

DePratto said employment rates for aboriginal women are still two per cent lower than non-aboriginal women — and even lower compared to men.

But that gap is closing, he added.


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