Community-led Skilled Trades Training Program Improves Elder Housing in Taykwa Tagamou Nation

TIMMINS, ON: Northern College, Keepers of the Circle, and Taykwa Tagamou Nation partnered to deliver a community-led skilled trades pre-employment training program that helped Elders with basic renovations to their homes. This innovative program was designed to inspire Indigenous youth to pursue an apprenticeship in carpentry.

Over eight-weeks, skilled trades experts from the Taykwa Tagamou Nation worked with carpentry students in a hands-on learning process teaching them the basics of construction and home repair. Students completed several infrastructure projects in the community. They erected three patios, two stairways, a ramp, siding on the back of a home, railings, and some interior work. They also built a gazebo for the community playground.

Participants will be receiving a certificate in Basics of Construction from Northern College plus safety-related certificates, including Working at Heights.

Cherilyn Archibald, Employment and Training Coordinator with the Taykwa Tagamou Nation said, “Our students made an impact on the quality of life for three elders and other community members’ home by completing projects on their homes.” 

“My favourite part of this project was the teamwork when we built the decks, everyone being together and helping each other,” said participant Kristina Echum Pitawanakwat. “I would recommend for anyone who is looking for a sense of accomplishment to join a project like this one, it’s an honour for me to help Elders and to see their gratitude from my work.”

A small and intimate graduation took place in Cochrane, celebrating the completion of the program for eight students. Joined by Elder Mary Martha Gelinas, who led a prayer and commented on the impact this program had on the community.

“It’s good to create programs that take place inside Frist Nation communities, especially when Elder needs are taken into consideration,” said Elder Gelinas. “They are helping to improve our life quality. They built a railing for Elder Pauline. She uses a walker so mobility safety was an issue, but now she feels safe in her own home.”

“The program aims to provide participants with the self-confidence and skills they need to achieve new goals and opportunities in the construction industry,” stated Dr. Audrey J. Penner, Northern College President and CEO. “Northern College values its relationships with Indigenous communities, partnerships like this one represent a significant step forward in making sure that we create a workforce that serve those in the greatest of need.”

Kathy Lajeunesse, Partner Liaison with Keepers of the Circle who supported students through the Culture, Confidence and Competence component concurred, saying, “The partnership with the communities and Northern College brings skilled trades training to rural and remote areas of Northern Ontario.”

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Cutline: New program graduates help to improve infrastructure in Taykwa Tagamou Nation. From left to right: Kathy Lajeunesse, Cherilyn Archibald, Brian Trepainer, George Dube, Eric Turcotte, Blake Etherington, Dr. Audrey J. Penner, Kristina Echum Pitawanakwat, Kate Quinn, Christine Heavens, Zachary Archibald, Brian Iserhoff, Elder Mary Martha Gelinas

Additional members: Kelly Lamontagne, Matthew Crawford, Darren Iserhoff, Daniel Cayouette, Conrad Sutherland, Yvonne Archibald & William Archibald

Media Contact: 
Kyle Gennings (he/him)
Communications & Government Relations Officer 
Marketing, Communications, and External Relations
P. 705-235-3211 ext 2276
F. 705-235-6888
C. 705-288-1101 

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