If you’ve ever dreamed of getting a post secondary education but you felt that there were no CEGEPs that were feasibly adapted to the needs of aboriginal people coming from the north, your luck has just changed.

The province announced January 19 that the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue would be receiving an annual grant of $200,000 for the purposes of a new education program adapted to the specific needs of Aboriginals in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Nord-du-Québec regions.

New programs are going to open up in both French and English that will be entirely geared to Native cultures. They include upgrading courses, intellectual and practical skill development courses, as well as courses in pre-university and technical programs.

Cree students will finally have the chance to catch up in areas where they may be lacking so that they may take on a university degree should they desire to do so or even choose to take one of the many career programs offered at Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Once any student completes the new four-semester program geared towards them, they will have the ability to take any course that they desire.

“College education opens many avenues for young people, especially in the regions, but so few Aboriginal students enrol,” said Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports Jean-Marc Fournier. “We must help them integrate, guide them, if necessary, and provide support so that they can complete a program of studies and thereby be better equipped to take advantage of job market opportunities.”

With the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue already significantly contributing to the economic development of the region since its inception, this new program will enhance the available manpower in the Northern Quebec Region.

The government also announced last October that they would be investing $3.8 million in the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) for the construction of a First Nations building in Val-d’Or.

With the enhancement of both of these Abitibi-Témiscamingue educational institutions so to accommodate the needs of First Nation’s students, there are no doubt brighter economic futures in store for those willing to take on the challenge.