Roundtable will focus on youth job creation in Eeyou Istchee


Looking for a career is one of the toughest choices to make early on in life. People the world over search far and wide to find industries and regions that are flourishing. Fortunately, Cree youth with a post-secondary degree are offered numerous career paths in the bustling economy right here.

On March 16-17, the Grand Council of the Crees invites all post-secondary students of Eeyou Istchee, and their families, to “Becoming Masters in Our Homeland”, the Roundtable on Capacity Building at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa.

“We need our youth to have a burning desire to contribute to the building of a Cree Nation. We are at a point in our history when we need the best from every citizen,” said Grand Chief Mathew Coon Come in a video invitation to the youth of Eeyou Istchee.

The event will be hosted by the Grand Council of the Crees, the Cree School Board, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, Niskamoon, the Cree Nation Youth Council, the Board of Compensation (BOC) and CREECO.

The idea for the roundtable started in September 2012, when a Cree negotiator felt that it would be beneficial to pass on information about all of the agreements that affect the Cree in the territory as well as informing how Cree individuals can benefit from these agreements.

“The hope is to pass on information to post-secondary students and young people,” said Darlene Cheechoo, the newly appointed chairperson of the BOC and president of CREECO. “We want to instill a sense of pride and make them aware of the opportunities that are available to them within Eeyou Istchee.”

Cheechoo will be presiding over her first meeting in late February when the BOC will lay out its plans for the year. “I want to be as inclusive as possible and get as many new ideas as possible. I want to hear what the nine communities are doing and needing,” said Cheechoo. “One of my major priorities is improving awareness and knowledge of what [CREECO] does and why it exist.”

And there are plenty of opportunities at the various companies under CREECO, such as the Cree Construction and Development Company, Air Creebec, Quality Inn Val-d’Or and Eeyou Baril. The diversity of the available positions can be a difficult choice for a young person, which is why such a roundtable is necessary in order to give advise and direction in this booming job market.

The opportunities in the various industries are staggering. Even if you are not quite sure what you want to do there is something for everyone,  including  accounting, managerial positions, and technical work, such as maintenance and piloting.

Training is also being emphasized at the roundtable with different choices in fields provided by Niskamoon in association with various technical and vocational schools in the province. The Cree School Boardv through its adult education programs is looking to fill in the gaps where training is needed. “CREECO itself is not involved in education, but we do contribute where we can,” said Cheechoo. “We’re trying to expand what we provide to young people in terms of mentoring and internship opportunities.”

Choosing a career path is no small decision and guidance from Cree leaders and individuals involved in the diverse industries of Eeyou Istchee will help in making a sound decision. Closing off his video, Coon Come said, “I invite you, post-secondary students, to a roundtable. To hear what is available so we as leaders can point you in the direction so that you can have a future to decide how you want to contribute to the building of a great Cree Nation.”