Statistics Canada has developed an Aboriginal Statistical Training Program that is available to communities free of charge.

In it, a series of specific aboriginal-taught training programs help native communities retrieve necessary information they can use in economic development strategies.

With this program, Stats Can sends a representative into a community to teach courses are to groups of 10 or 12 individuals over a period of several days. Statistics Canada incurs all of the costs to send the trainer to the region. The only cost that a participant may encounter when partaking in one of these courses is their own meals and transportation.

Marc-Andre Daigle, a communications advisor and aboriginal liaison for Statistics Canada, recently led a training program with a group from the North.

“It went really well,” said Daigle, a Metis from New Brunswick. “The group was really receptive. We were able to deliver exactly what they wanted and needed and address their concerns.”

These courses are valuable to the communities, says Daigle, because “they learn the power of statistics.” When it comes to applying for funding from the government or from within the community, be it for a shelter or a nursing home or whatever the demand, statistical data can be the greatest ally when it comes to showing a need numerically. It can act as the foundation for any proposal and with these courses, community members can get the “know how” on where to get the figures, what to do with the numbers and how to present them.

“They learn the steps for our statistical techniques, they learn how to conduct their own survey, they find out how to use statistics to conduct market analyses and business development as well in terms of community, they learn how to make graphs and how to do presentations.”

Presently there are four different training programs available to aboriginal communities. For those who have never encountered statistics training, Daigle recommends that they begin with the first course, Introduction to Basic Statistical Techniques.

“This course is designed to introduce you to basic statistical techniques and analysis. We see the different terms and the different methods in statistics, which include frequency, percent distribution, central tendencies and growth rates and we also use information from the Stats Can website throughout the course,” Daigle explains.

In the first course individuals participate in projects in little groups and learn to use the Excel program on computers and do presentations. If community data is available, it is incorporated into the training course so that the course is participants leave with a better, hands-on understanding of data mining.

In the second course, entitled Surveys from Start to Finish, the focus is on planning a survey, toconducting it, to presenting the results. Says Daigle, ‘A lot of these people have information that they do not realize is statistical. If a nursing home or a haven house has only the numbers of how many people come in and out or the reasons why they come in and out Say they want to add additional services and get funding – they need to translate this information into proposals to show what the needs are. In terms of collecting this information, we really go step by step on how to make it their own survey.”

The third program is entitled Statistics for Market Analysis. It’s geared toward those who work in business and entrepreneurs.

“This one is taught through lectures, discussion and a case study,” says Daigle. “We learn about applying statistics in business and economic planning, it also covers information about Statistics Canada data useful for market analysis and positioning in order to take advantage of business opportunity.”

The last program available is Turning Administrative Data into Information. Organizations or departments that have information but don’t really know what to do with it can benefit from this one. “It’s for day-to-day operations: they collect data on their programs, services and clients and we learn about the essential steps to turn administrative data into useful and accurate, reliable statistical information that can be used in reports and proposals,” Daigle explains.

Daigle strongly recommends these programs because there is so much to gain from them. It’s not only about understanding the data Because it normally is a two-to-four-day course, relationships are built, there is team building and thus there is a group effort and group benefit. Within all of these programs there is a focus on teamwork and as the teams themselves develop bonds they also find new community strength.

Daigle says he really loves to give back to the communities within the context of his job as he is one of only two instructors for the province. “What I really like about this program is that we are able to share knowledge, especially with being an aboriginal person myself, if I can give something to a brother or a cousin, it’s great! We really want to share all of this. This information is there, it is available, and we have the expertise so if by the end of the training I am able to allow a person to better excel his or her work or to improve their skills, the impact of that will be on the community. I don’t think I even have to say more.”

To find out more about the Aboriginal Statistical Training Program or to be a participant, contact Marc-Andre Daigle, Communications Advisor, Aboriginal Liaison for the Eastern Region through Statistics Canada at 514 283-6401 or write him at:

Statistics Canada

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