Land project teaches carpentry skills, provides healing
Skills development and college certificate help guide participants towards careers in carpentry
A land-based project northeast of Cochrane is helping participants heal while providing them with practical carpentry skills.
Northern College and the Keepers of the Circle Indigenous Urban Center have partnered with the STARS Project, providing skilled trades training to rural and remote communities across Northern Ontario.
âWe want to make sure that Indigenous peoples and marginalized people have careers, well-paying jobs and jobs that support them,â said Arlene Hache, Executive Director of Keepers of the Circle.
Their first project, carried out according to the STARS model, is in partnership with an indigenous non-profit organization called Wahstaywin.
The organization, led by Cherilyn Archibald and Kane Faries, offers holistic earth-based healing through traditional ceremonies and activities.
For this pilot project, 10 Indigenous participants learn carpentry skills by building a healing camp, located one hour northeast of Cochrane. They also engage in traditional practices and activities while on the land.
Wahstaywin was already working on cabin construction when Northern College and Keepers of the Circle joined us.
Sometimes people are ready to work physically but not mentally or emotionally because of their trauma, grief or emotions affecting them to be successful in their workplace, Archibald said. That is why the emphasis is on the spiritual part.
âWhen you work with individuals, when they have a balance on this medicine wheel, you set them up for success,â she said.
âAnd reconnect with their culture and get to know each other, reconnect with Mother Earth. And at the same time, they’re healing, which is great.
The CreeQuest Corp. also donated money to the project.
Before heading out into the bush to build cabins, participants completed Keepers of the Circle’s online confidence and cultural skills program, which focuses on health and wellness, personal and professional development.
Then they took online safety training and working at heights training from the college.
Kelly Lamontagne, project coordinator at Northern College, said online training allows students to stay in their community instead of traveling, especially during the pandemic.
For this project, local tradespeople Robert Quachegan and Kane Faries were hired to deliver the in-person and on-site portion of the training.
âWe are doing our best to use experts from the local community to be able to use this mentoring in the community. That way when the program itself is over, that knowledge stays in the community, that relationship and that mentorship continues beyond the program, âsaid Lamontagne.
âIt helps young people find jobs in the trades.
During their six-week stay in the bush, participants build the foundations for three huts and will mount the walls and roof.
The second batch of students during the winter months will complete the rest of the cabins.
Participants are also involved in cultural learning. They harvested a moose and a bear and learned to smoke meat.
âJust being out there heals, and being away from Facebook and all of those distractions helps them grow stronger spiritually,â Archibald said.
At the end of the project, participants will receive a college certificate. Some of them want to stay for the second take in order to continue their healing, Archibald said.
To remove barriers and provide flexibility to participants, Circle Keepers take care of transportation and accommodation, provide childcare assistance, and tablets so they can look for jobs and stay connected.
âIt’s really individualized. It is looking at the interests of the particular person and where they want to go. Then, step by step, explain what they need to do to get them on this path, âsaid Hache.
“And if there are barriers – and there usually are, whether it’s housing, childcare, transportation, remoteness or lack of access to technology – we have funding in place to provide this concrete support. â
Wahstaywin does his best to support participants who wish to continue their education, Archibald said.
“This is where Northern College will come in. And because they have already completed this training and obtained a certificate from Northern College, it will be easier to help them enroll as the pre-program or the carpentry program or pre-trade programs to support them in their careers, âshe said. noted.
âThis is the goal: to continue to support our people through healing on earth, through ceremony. And also support them during their individual employment plan.