As a new year is often a traditional time to blaze a new trail in one’s life, and choosing a course of study is a great way to start.

Whether you are looking to take a quick career course to get back out on the job market in a new trade or looking to make the first step of many on the academic road, this guide can help you map your way.

It could be that you are looking to start up a business and want to learn about becoming an entrepreneur, or learn new skills in aesthetics or mechanics, or even find a job at one of the major mining operations that will soon be opening up within the Cree communities.

You may be interested in becoming a professional such as a teacher, a nurse or even a lawyer and want to know where would be the best place to study to get the proper prerequisites.

Even if you just want to brush up on your language skills, or need the proper level of math and science courses to go into another program, or simply want to learn all you can about Aboriginal culture, read on!

There are many new opportunities for employment within Eeyou Istchee as local economies are growing from a wealth of new projects in the region. These mean new career possibilities in health sciences, construction, mining-related trades, teaching, running a business and others.

Starting out with courses especially tailored for Crees that are geared at getting the people of the communities working from within the communities as soon as possible, the following courses are available locally through the Cree School Board.

Courses available through Sabtuan in the Cree communities

For those looking to train for new careers but want to stay within Eeyou Istchee, the Cree School Board has a wide variety of courses at their vocational school in Waswanipi or at various other locations throughout the communities.

Below is a list of programs on offer:

Computing Support

This program is all about teaching students the basics of IT in areas such as problem solving, researching information, time management, network establishment, operation and maintenance. This course also trains students to use software and hardware on both older and newer systems, the use of application software, creating and using databases and the use of telecommunications.

It will also include workplace communication skills training, workplace interaction, appropriate customer support and managing networks: for instance, assessing the structure and functioning of computer systems, developing programs, installing hardware and software, managing access, setting up resource sharing, troubleshooting and computer optimization.

This 1800-hour course will be taught in Chisasibi and at the Waswanipi Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre (SRVTC).

Recreational Vehicle Mechanics

This course teaches students the necessary knowledge and skills to check, repair and adjust the motors of a wide variety of machinery: lawnmowers, snowmobiles, snow blowers, chainsaws, lawn tractors, the all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, outboard motors, golf carts and so on.

Students will learn to check and repair the ignition, different parts of the fuel systems, lubrication systems and cooling servicing and maintenance of light vehicles.

This 1800-hour course will be taught in Chisasibi.

Home Care Assistance

For those looking to help the sick and infirm within their own communities, this home-care assistance program provides the proper training in basic care and services for those in need.

Students in this program learn how to assist their clients to carry out everyday activities and help them organize their living environment while also ensuring their safety, and how to intervene in a crisis or emergency situation.

Students will learn how to help clients integrate and socialize in individual or community activities. All of these tasks require establishing a relationship of trust with clients and those close to them. Home-care attendants also receive training in providing care and services in the home. They help vulnerable or at-risk clientele carry out everyday domestic activities, such as preparing meals. They also advise clients on their lifestyle habits and provide parenting support, if applicable.

The goal is to meet the general needs of clients, to help them compensate for their disabilities, to maintain and promote their autonomy, to accompany and support them in their daily and domestic lives, while taking into account any family or social problems that could interfere

This 975-hour program is offered in Eastmain.

Driving a School Bus

This course helps potential school bus drivers meet provincial standards. It requires students to fully comprehend the five sectors of the industry: urban transport, school transport, intercity transportation, chartered transportation and paratransit. Completion of this course leads to a class 1 license issued by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec.

This 330-hour program is offered in Mistissini in partnership with the Charlebourg school board.

Food and Beverage Services

The Food and Beverage Service program is all about how to transform the average Joe or Jane into a food service professional equipped to not only wait tables but perform so much more in a dining room. Students in this program learn how to prepare a dining room, proper customer rapport, how to explain menus and dishes, to take and process orders, to perform billing and collection operations, to recommend and serve wines, to provide beverage service, to provide banquet service, to provide informal service, to provide formal service, and how to integrate into the workplace.

This 960-hour program is taught in Waswanipi at the Sabtuan Centre.

Trucking Class I

Anyone who yearns for a life on the road could profit from this truck-driving course. This skill is in demand in Eeyou Istchee and could help you experience a world beyond the great white north.

Students in this field will learn defensive and fuel-efficient driving, courtesy behind the wheel, professionalism in the field, time management, handling of unexpected events, how to handle emergencies and positive image projection.

This 615-hour course is offered Waswanipi in partnership with the Centre de formation professionelle de Charlebourg.

Daycare Educator

Students in this program will learn how to organize, prepare and conduct a variety of activities at a daycare centre that are geared at early childhood learning in a safe environment. Child development and child wellbeing instruction will play a large role in this course as will learning how to handle groups of small children.

This course will be offered in Waswanipi at the Sabtuan Centre.

Ore Extraction

For those who are looking for long-term employment in the mining industry, the ore-extraction course is the place to start. This 930-hour course prepares the student to use all of the necessary equipment and respect essential safety rules.

This course now has two groups to accommodate the demand for work in this field, in Waswanipi at the Sabtuan Centre and also in Matagami.

Construction Business Management

As there are presently so many opportunities for construction companies in the north with the incredible amount of development, this program is now available to help out everyone who has ever dreamed at running their own construction business.

This entrepreneurial course teaches how to manage a business that offers general or specialized services in the construction sector. It shows students how to estimate costs relative to the project, prepare proposals, negotiate contracts, plan outlines for work sites, carry out projects and manage the quality of the work. It also covers how to hire personnel, how to negotiate purchasing of materials and how to manage a company’s accounts and finances.

This 450-hour course is taught in Whapmagoostui.

Drilling and Blasting

This program provides students with the skills to safely carry out drilling and blasting procedures as well as teaching workplace norms for this field.

This 900-hour program will be taught in Nemaska starting April 15.


Industrial Construction and Maintenance Mechanics

This program prepares students to work as maintenance mechanics in the field of industrial construction and there is a great deal of that to happen in Eeyou Istchee’s future.

Students will gain the necessary competencies to enter this field, including how to interpret drawings, specifications and other technical documentation, to diagnose malfunctions in equipment, and to maintain, repair and install industrial equipment.

This 1800-hour course is taught in Amos.

Please note that there will also be program carryovers for the following two programs:

Bus Driving in Waskaganish, starting March 11, and Northern Heavy Equipment Operations, which begins May 14 in Mistissini.

General Education

For adults who would like to complete their basic education there are general education programs available through Sabtuan.

New for Organizations and Communities, the Sabtuan Customized Training and Community Development Services are now being offered.

Sabtuan is now offering a wide range of quality training solutions to upgrade employee skills and boost workplace productivity. These services are being tailored to individuals, businesses, community and regional entities and organizations represented within the Cree nation.

This program will offer: training needs assessment and planning, content development, pedagogical support, on-site instruction, flexible scheduling. Students will earn certificates of participation after instruction by qualified and experienced professionals

Training Solutions are also being offered in English, French and Cree for Bus Driving and Truck Driving.

There are also health and safety and first aid courses, as well as a special Leadership:

Cross-Cultural Communication program

For those whose staff need training on office and business skills, there are computer software, computer service and office procedures courses available.

For information on how to sign up for any of the aforementioned programs, contact the Cree School Board or your local guidance office.

Courses for Crees in Chibougamau

To meet the employment demands within the communities, the Cree School Board offers custom-designed courses.

Here is a list of programs:

If you are looking to stick close to home but still want to take a valuable career course that could lead to a lifetime of meaningful employment, the Cégep St. Félicien offers instruction tailored specifically for Crees.

Starting with their registered nursing program, launched for the first time back in 2008, this program is a special collaboration between Cree Human Resources Development, Cree School Board, Cree Health Board and Emploi Quebec. It was developed to help meet the need for 100 new nurses in Eeyou Istchee.

Not only is this the only English-language nursing program available within James Bay, St. Félicien has a four-year program so that Cree students can take the courses at an adapted pace. This is the same program offered by L’Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec which usually runs two years at other institutions. The St. Félicien program has been adapted as a four-year program to accommodate both the educational and cultural needs of Cree students.

To find out more about Cégep St. Félicien at the Centre d’études collégiales à Chibougamau go to:

Also offered by Cégep St. Félicien at the Centre d’études collégiales à Chibougamau in collaboration with Niskamoon, the Natural Environment Technology course is perfect for Crees who would like to spend their life working on the land to ensure that development proceeds according to environmental norms and Cree values.

Students in this program will learn about environmental development, interpretation, wildlife protection and conservation for a career in environment, forestry, wildlife management or ecotourism.

This exciting program will first focus on classroom theory but also offer practical on-the-job training in various settings throughout Chibougamau and the Eastmain-1-A–Sarcelle–Rupert hydroelectric project site. It is a three-year, 2700-hour course developed by Niskamoon Corporation, Cree Human Resources Department, Cree School Board and Hydro-Quebec.

Also available at Cégep St. Félicien is a new program, the Special Needs Educator Profession for Aboriginal and Inuit Children program.

This professional course runs 915 hours and is geared at training professionals to work with children and families for prevention, re-education and rehabilitation purposes.

Students will learn about everything from early childhood development to the ethical and legal aspects of this line of work. There is also a special focus on the assessment of special needs children and other practical aspects such as intervention techniques, plans and processes.

To find out more go to:

Programs for Crees through Niskamoon

The 2002 Apatisiiwin Agreement between the Crees and Hydro Quebec established a special mandate to hire a minimum of 150 qualified Cree employees by 2017.

Niskamoon has since been responsible for helping to deliver the following programs to Cree beneficiaries:

Two Vocational Programs (DEP)

• Automated Systems

Electro-Mechanics (DEP 5281)

• Industrial Construction and Maintenance Mechanics

(DEP 5260)

Two Technical Programs (DEC)

• Industrial Electronics in Instrumentation and Automation  (DEC 243.06)

• Electronics Technology in Telecommunications/Computers  (DEC 243.11)

The following two programs have also been added through Niskamoon: A Civil Engineering Professional DEC available through the CEGEP de l’Abitibi-Temiscamingue and the aforementioned Natural Environment Technology professional program at the CEGEP de St-Félicien in Chibougamau.

Because these programs were developed and adapted for Crees, they all feature the following benefits as part of the program structure to help ensure student success rates:

a) Monthly Incentive

b) Successful Semester Incentives

c) Cree Cultural Leave

d) Student Activity Funds

e) Summer Student Employment

f) Summer Student Equivalent Sponsorship

g) Improved fluency of the French Language

Graduation from these programs guarantees employment with Hydro Quebec. For more information or to apply go to:

Please note that the deadline for applications is March 1, 2013

What Val d’Or has to offer Cree and other First Nations students

It may have been dubbed the “Sin City” of the north, but Val d’Or is a home away from home for many Natives seeking further education.

There are many courses available in the city that were developed specifically for Native people in order to help them access new careers in fields that are greatly needed in Aboriginal communities.

Those who want to begin one of the university programs offered in Val d’Or but who may not have the necessary credentials or just want to ease back in to academia slowly, the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue offers an Access to College program as an ideal starting point. Available in both their regular and continuing education programs, it provides access to the First Nations Student Services (FNSS) department to help them brush up on studying skills and transition to other levels.

For more information, go to:

The L’Université du Québec

en Abitibi-Témiscamingue

The L’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) has a number of programs adapted for First Nations. UQAT also helps First Nations students to enrol in almost any program they want because the university has a policy to include Aboriginal perspectives and realities.

At their Val d’Or campus the UQAT is currently offering a wide variety of certificates in everything from Aboriginal Studies to administrative programs, social programs and even some creative programs.

For those seeking administrative careers, the university offers the following as Micro-programs and Certificates: Human Resource Management, Administration, Accounting and a certificate in Management and Regional Development.

For those interested in a career working with young children or society, UQAT also offers a Bachelor Degree in Education and Primary Teaching as well as a Bachelor of Social Work.

For those creative minds that are interested in artistic careers, the university has excellent programs such as their Certificate in Fine Arts and their Certificate in Interactive Multimedia.

For more information go to:

Programs in the South

Those interested in pursuing their education at one of the many Cegeps or colleges in Quebec or Ontario that provide pre-university or career programs, there are many to choose from. While some students opt for a specific school because they feel that the student life and atmosphere is ideal for them, other prospective students will often go for a specific institution because it offers programs unavailable elsewhere.

So, if you have a specific program in mind or prefer living in an urban downtown or in a green countryside setting, be sure to do your research to find out what is the most ideal location for you.

Many schools also offer adapted programs for Aboriginals to help get you into the program or career of your dreams.

Here are just a handful of those programs and useful information about institutions that may be of interest:

John Abbott College

John Abbott College (JAC) is the choice for students looking to study in Montreal’s picturesque suburban borough of St-Anne-de-Bellevue and is the only English Cegep in southern Quebec that offers a special program designed to help Cree students integrate into college life and academia. The Pathways to a Career Program for Cree Students is a one-year academic program at which students earn credits toward their DEC (Diplôme d’études collégiales) while benefitting from a social support network.

For more information go to:

For those dreaming of a career with the Eeyou Enou Police Force, the starting point is also at John Abbott because it is the only college that offers the Police Technology Program for First Nations and Inuit Students.

Designed specifically for First Nations and Inuit students, this is an intensive 900-hour credit course. This program leads to an Attestation d’études collégiales in Police Technology. Those who complete this course successfully will be qualified to attend the 17-week basic police officer training program at the École nationale de police du Québec in Nicolet.

For more information go to:

The Kiuna Institution

Quebec’s only Aboriginal College, the Kiuna Institution is one of Quebec’s newest schools. It was developed to “provide the youth of First Nations with a college specifically devised for them and a learning environment that takes into account their cultural specificities, social background and interests.”

Located on the Odanak Reserve, this college may not offer everything that one of the larger Cegeps might but it does have courses to help First Nations students who need it get into regular programming, as well as other courses designed with a specific First Nations perspective.

Students can start out with an Orientation and integration term and Transition term or go directly into their First Nations Social Science program.

For more information on this institution, go to:

Dawson College

For those looking to attend an English-speaking Cegep in downtown Montreal, Dawson College offers a wide range of choices in areas such the arts, design, medical-science technology career programs or tourism.

In some cases, Dawson is the only Quebec college offering these particular programs in English.

Among them: 3D Animation and Computer Generated Imagery, Illustration and Design, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Professional Photography, Professional Theatre, Biomedical Laboratory Technology, Civil Engineering Technology, Diagnostic Imaging, Electronic Engineering Technology, Laboratory Technology-Analytical Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Radiation Technology, Community Recreation Leadership Technology, Computer Science Technology and Social Service.

Dawson offers many other generally available programs as well as a many number of specialized pre-university courses. To find out more study options at Dawson College go to:

Vanier College

Vanier College is a happy medium between Dawson’s urban intensity and John Abbott’s suburban isolation.

Vanier also offers programming that is unavailable at other public anglophone Cegeps, such as their fully accredited music program.

For those feeling ambitious about their college careers, Vanier has special programs for students to do double DECs, in which students may complete core courses in two different domains as pre-university courses over a three-year period.

Vanier offers a Modern Languages and Music Double DEC as well as double DECs for Science and Music and Social Science and Music.

In terms of career programs, Vanier also has a unique set of study options: Animal Health Technology, Architectural Technology, Building Systems Engineering Technology, Computerized Systems Technology, Early Childhood Education, Environmental and Wildlife Technology, Industrial Electronics, Office Systems Technology, Micropublishing and Hypermedia, Professional Music and Song Techniques, Respiratory and Anesthesia Technology and Special Care Counselling.

For more information on Vanier College:

Going Private

For those students who want to get a quality college education in a specialized environment, there are a wide variety of private colleges in Montreal to choose from.

While some of these institutions offer pre-university programs that lead to a DEC or college diploma others offer certificate courses in specific fields, forgoing higher learning prerequisites for workplace practical information.

Here is just a taste of what Montreal has to offer in terms of English-language private colleges:

Marianopolis College

For those who want to do Cegep in a more intimate setting with smaller teacher-to-student ratios, Marianopolis will suit their needs but with the added cost of private school tuition. This school only offers pre-university academic programs that lead to a DEC. Their focus is to prepare students for higher learning.

Marianopolis offers the standard science, social science, commerce, creative arts, literature and languages, music, arts and science and music pre-university programs. They also offer a number of double DEC courses.

To find out more:

Inter Dec College / Lasalle College

If you are looking for a high-end career program or a specialized pre-university course, Inter Dec College and Lasalle College are sister schools on a common campus that offer a wide variety of high quality courses for serious students in a private setting.

Inter Dec offers career training in a number of fields but does not provide students with the necessary credits to graduate with a DEC. Instead, they offer specialized courses where students graduate with Attestations of Collegial Studies (AEC), Diplomas of Professional Studies (DEP) or In-House Diplomas (AE). This school is geared towards those who want to get out on the job market immediately and may already have some training.

Both schools have a prestigious reputation. They are also bilingual, with programs in both English and French.

The following programs are available at Inter Dec College: Artistic Makeup-Fashion and Beauty, Massage Therapy, Aesthetic Care, Hairdressing, Interior Design, Set and Prop Design, Video Games, Commercial Photography, Video Editing, Graphic Design and 2D/3D Animation.

Lasalle College offers a unique selection of pre-university and technical DEC programs, all of which lead either to accelerated university studies or integration into the job market. Many of the programs are not available elsewhere in English. It should be noted that Lasalle is the largest bilingual college in North America and features five specialty schools with over 60 programs to choose from.

Available at Lasalle are the following: Fashion Design DEC, Fashion Marketing DEC, Tourism DEC, Hotel Management DEC, Professional Cooking DEP, Computer Science Technology DEC, Development for Web 2.0 AEC, Insurance and Financial Management Services DEC, SME Accounting AEC, Early Childhood Education DEC, Special Care Counselling DEC,

Lasalle also offers a number of online learning programs. To find out more about these two institutions go to: or

Trebas Institute

For those looking to fast track their media career, Trebas Institute is a one-stop shop private institution that trains professionals for the entertainment industry, particularly in the fields of sound, spinning music, and audio and video production.

A private career college, Trebas offers the following four programs that are geared at getting the student into the entertainment job market immediately after graduation: Studio Recording and Live Sound, Sound Design, DJ Arts and Technology, Music Business Administration and Film and Television Production and Post Production.

For more information go to:

Montreal Universities

Montreal is a world-class hub for university education, attracting students from across the globe in fields of medicine, education, science and research and, new to the game, animation and video-game design.

Students flock to classic institutions like McGill University, which was established in 1821, or to cutting-edge instruction in places like Université de Montréal’s soon-to-be-completed science pavilions.

For those looking to plot out their the course of their academic life from college through university, it might be best to do individual research on these institutions as they offer such a broad spectrum of programs in many different fields. To find out more on each of Montreal’s universities, check out the following web links:

McGill University:

Concordia University:

Université du Québec à Montréal:

Université de Montréal:

Eastern Ontario

Eastern Ontario has a wide variety of schools and programs that may be of tremendous interest to Crees and other Aboriginal students.

Here are some highlights in an overview of those institutions:

Algonquin College

Featuring campuses in Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke, Algonquin College offers over 140 programs. While it is a large institution, according to their literature, Algonquin is nonetheless nurtures a friendly, small-college atmosphere.

Special for Aboriginal students, Algonquin now offers a General Arts and Science Aboriginal Studies program in both one- and two-year programs as well as content on Aboriginal peoples.

For more information:

Lakehead University

With a broad offering of specialized Aboriginal studies, Lakehead is particularly known for its excellent programs in Native languages.

To help those new to academia or those returning to school, Lakehead helps new students transition into academia through their Cultural and Support Services department.

Two special programs offered at Lakehead are geared at integrating Native students into college life: the Native Access Program, a nine-month course to help students transition; and a Native Nurses Entry Program, which also runs nine months, that is geared at preparing Native students for the mainstream nursing program.

This university also offers an Honours Bachelor of Aboriginal Education, programs in Indigenous Learning that focus on a fundamental understanding of Aboriginal history, philosophy, culture and values that are open to all students, a Native Teacher Education Program, and a Native Languages Instructor program.

But, for those who would like to study medicine in a program that is specifically geared towards graduating Aboriginal doctors, Lakehead offers the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. This unique medical program offers a specific Aboriginal focus that incorporates meaningful collaborations with Aboriginal communities and is respectful of Aboriginal culture and history.

For more information on this program:

For information on other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal programs at Lakehead, go to:

Laurentian University

Sudbury’s Laurentian University welcomes a large Aboriginal student population and features one of the only two Bachelor of Native Social Work programs in Canada.

Laurentian’s School of Native Human Services, Nishnaabe Kinoomaadwin Naadmaadwin (Native Teaching in Helping), also trains Aboriginals for careers in the following fields: Child Welfare, Mental Health, Corrections Provincial/Federal, Community Development, Administration, Direct Service Delivery, Policy Development, Research and Development, Education Training and Management, and Health Care.

Along with a wide variety of other programs, Laurentian also has a series of continuing education courses.

For more information go to:

Nipissing University

Eastern Ontario’s Nipissing University offers programming geared at helping

Aboriginal students successfully integrate into college life, as well as academic and cultural support to help students complete their degrees. Many school activities and help with employment and career opportunities are also provided to support Native students.

Nipissing offers an Aboriginal Teacher Certificate Program, a Native Classroom Assistant Diploma Program, a Native Special Education Assistant Diploma Program and an entire Native Studies Department.

For more information on Nipissing University go to:

The University of Ottawa

A world-class university with programs in a wide variety of sectors, the University of Ottawa has its own specialty departments for a minor in Aboriginal Studies through the Faculty of arts and a Bachelor in Education through the Native Teacher Education Program.

One ground-breaking feature at the U of O that is unavailable anywhere else in the region is the Aboriginal Health Program at the school’s Faculty of Medicine, which has a specific mandate to graduate Aboriginal doctors. Medical students from across the country compete for seats in the prestigious program.

For more information go to:

Carleton University

Students looking for an institution that provides extra support and services to its Aboriginal students should consider Carleton University, which has a lot to offer.

Starting with their Aboriginal Enriched Support Program (AESP), Carleton offers specific studies tailored to support aboriginal students making the transition into B.A. programs.

Carleton also offers a unique Aboriginal Studies and the North program that leads to a Master of Arts degree within the School of Canadian Studies.

Courses in Inuktitut, Cree, Ojibway and Algonquin are offered at Carleton, depending on the semester through their Indigenous Languages-School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies.

As a means of extra support, Carlton also offers a Centre for Aboriginal Culture and Education, which also seeks to retain these students along with other Aboriginal faculty and staff so that Native students can learn from Native teachers.

For more information:

Canadore College

Located in North Bay, Ontario, Canadore College also offers unique Aboriginal programs through their Indigenous Preparatory Studies and an Indigenous Pre-Health Program.

Also featuring smaller-than-average class sizes, individual attention from academic advisors and personalized education, Canadore is a fantastic first step for many Aboriginal students into their next career.

For more information: