Proud family, coordinators and facilitators were at the Ininew Friendship Centre on Friday to attend the commencement ceremony for students of the Taykua Tagamou (TTN) Mining Career Explorations Program.
The 8-week program held at the Apitisawan was assisted by a multitude of partners.
Using the curriculum of the Temiskaming Native Women’s Support Group in Kirkland Lake (TNWSG) Aboriginal Women in Mining students attended classes in personal and professional skill development and technical training.
"It is about getting them all together, raising them up," said Kathy Lajeunesse facilitator from TNWSG. "As one of the facilitators, it has been a great group. It is a wonderful opportunity that is not offered anywhere else."
They are taught life skills and communication skills which includes a cultural component.
The group is the first to be a co-ed class. It is generally just women but the curriculum caters to Indigenous people and not just women.
The course also included training for surface mining common core by Norcat.
Ten students: eight young men and two young ladies graduated from the program. They will be continuing in a 20-week paid placement at Detour with the possibility of future employment at that mine.
Brenda Morgan from the Ininew Friendship Centre was also a contributor to the program.
Cherilyn Archibald, the Program Coordinator noted that the graduating students now have to complete the traditional pre-work requirements like their medical etc and then they will be available for the placement phase of the program.
Martin Millen, a traditional healer from Matachewan First Nation, spoke to the graduates emphasizing the importance of their customs, and remembering the teachings of the elders.
He told them that now they were entering the adult stage and that they will have responsibilities and will need to learn how to handle money. He encouraged them to use this opportunity to put some of their earnings and to give something back and take care of the elders.
Before the other speakers, Joanna Gelinas and Cherilyn Archibald sang and played their drums.
It was evident by the speeches made that the students had all made a a great impression.
Derrick Archibald and Linda Job of TTN who sponsored the program said they were excited for the program that was in the planning stages for over a year.
Job said "We are so proud of these young people. I am looking forward to what their experience will be when they do their placement. I am excited for the parents and families who support these young people."
Also speaking at the graduation was Ken Stewart of Norcat who told the youth to remember that family comes first.
Full article by Deborah Morin available at the Cochrane Times Post here