Cree Human Resource Development’s annual career fair continues to grow every year. The event’s 8th edition saw new exhibitors, increased attendance, its first-ever live online stream and an evening gala featuring some of the James Bay’s finest artists.
Taking place at the Neoweskau Sports Complex in Mistissini October 21-22, the event brought together more than 30 exhibitors representing educational institutions and prospective employers from throughout the James Bay Region along with a number of inspirational guest speakers, role models and entertainers.
Day one focused on education, showcasing colleges and universities from Quebec and Ontario and highlighting the various education opportunities, resources and academic support available to youth in Eeyou Istchee. Speakers, panel discussion and workshops stressed the importance of staying in school, clearly defining academic goals and planning for the future.
Day two was geared towards employment, with a contingent of familiar mining companies such as Stornoway and Goldcorp as well as newcomer Nemaska Lithium. The 30-plus exhibitors represented companies currently seeking employees and others beginning the hiring process for future positions in regional business endeavours that are still in planning and development.
Thanks to the cooperation of the Cree Youth Council, coordinator Deanna Mianscum says the turnout was quite good. More than 400 people registered for the career fair over the course of the two days.
“This year was kind of a challenge because the Cree School Board had their PED days [the same week],” said Mianscum. “The Cree Nation Youth Council covered all of the transportation costs and picked up youth from Washaw Sibi, Waswanipi, Oujé-Bougoumou and Nemaska, they really helped us a lot.”
Mianscum told the Nation the career fair hosted a number of special guests and offered a wide range of activities for those who attended, including workshops, panel discussions, the evening gala on Day one and a talent show organized by the Cree Nation Youth Council on Day two.
“We also had workshops on career counselling, planning for post-secondary studies, a Commission de la construction du Quebéc session, roundtable discussions and a resumé workshop, developing all of the tools people need to go out and get a job or go out and pursue their studies,” related Mianscum.
Notable guests at this year’s event included Andy Baribeau, director of commerce and industry for the Cree Nation Government, filmmaker Allison Coon-Come, celebrated Cree artist Mariame Hasni and Elder Robert Kanatewat.
On the lighter side, Mianscum said that the evening activities were a good time for everyone who was involved.
“We did a gala for entertainment, we had Mariame Hasni perform and the kids loved her. After her were the Fort George Rockers and they rocked the house for the older crowd. The food was awesome too! We had catered lunches and a supper provided by local caterers.”
Mianscum told the Nation the mission of the CHRD career fair is to raise awareness of the education and job opportunities available to the people of Eeyou Istchee. Most importantly the career fair organizers want to share knowledge and instil hope, something she feels they were able to accomplish.
“I was very happy with the turnout and the knowledge people gained,” she said. “The people who attended were interested and optimistic, it was great to see.”