Program assists aboriginal students

Single father Dominique Mallis is about to say goodbye to the classroom thanks to a new program offered through the Red Deer Aboriginal Employment Services.

Dominique Mallis

Dominique Mallis

Single father Dominique Mallis is about to say goodbye to the classroom thanks to a new program offered through the Red Deer Aboriginal Employment Services.

The Urban Aboriginal Integrated Training Program will send 10 new fresh-faced graduates out into the workforce on June 10.

About half of the students have either lived on reserves for some or all their lives.

The program prepares aboriginal students who may not have the basic urban or city living skills necessary to survive and strive in today’s working world.

Angela Grainger, program co-ordinator, said there are many people particularly mature adults, who do not have these basic skills.

The outgoing class has students from 20 to 47 years of age and from all walks of life.

In the course, students spent six months learning employability skills, cultural awareness, anti-discrimination, job shadowing and other skills.

The next six months the students will work in jobs that pay above minimum wage.

Grainger said the main goal for the program is “successful employment” where her students are ready, willing and able to maintain employment.

Many of the students have faced challenges from having few skills, no workplace experience or simply having little exposure to living in an urban setting.

Nearly a year after the first class graduated, the eight out of the 10 who participated in the workplace training are either permanently working or on a contract.

One student is looking for a job.

Mallis, 40, will have his foot in the door with the City of Red Deer when he starts his job in the waste water treatment department.

Mallis, who is Métis, said he has not faced challenges in the way of discrimination but has faced a few hiccups in keeping jobs.

Mallis has taken other employment programs and this piqued his interest because of the length of the program.

The focus on cultural awareness, the job shadowing aspect, and the other components were helpful.

“My prior resume does not look anything like the one I just typed up last week,” said Mallis.

“It’s powered with (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and these other certificates.”

Mallis said things are looking up and his 14-year-old son and his grandmother who lives with him.

The students graduate on June 10 at the Capri Hotel. Applications are still being accepted for the next program which starts in July.

For more information, including eligibility, visit www.rdaes.com or phone 403-358-7734.

The program is funded through Alberta Employment and Immigration in partnership with the City of Red Deer.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com