Whether you are interested in health care, entrepreneurship, or one of the promised thousands of jobs in the natural resource development boom that is supposed to transform Northern Quebec, there is no better time like the present to start training for a new career in Eeyou Istchee.

Between the road building, mining developments and major construction projects detailed in Quebec’s Plan Nord, there are literally hundreds of new skilled jobs exclusively set aside for Crees in the region. And, because the Cree nation has been anticipating the boom, a wide variety of training programs are available for those looking to start up a new career or increase their current skill set to take advantage of a promotion.

What is new is that training is now available in different sectors throughout the Cree communities to expedite the process of training such a large body of workers in a wide variety of fields in a short amount of time.

Just through CREECO Inc.’s Cree Construction and Development Corporation and Air Creebec, Gestion ADC, the Cree Jobs Partnership is looking to train 420 people for positions created by the Plan Nord. This, however, does not include all of the skilled positions that will be created by mining companies once the construction phase is done.

And then there is the whole matter of building a whole new community for the people of Washa Sibi, meeting the housing and infrastructure needs of the ever-expanding existing communities and providing the social infrastructure that support every community. All nine of the Cree communities import teachers, social workers, health care workers and a number of other professionals from the south of Quebec and beyond but wouldn’t have to if there were enough Crees trained in those specific fields to fill the need.

If you are thinking about going back to school to become part of a brand new wave of skilled and well-paid Cree workers, read on; the opportunities abound!

Programs Created Specifically for Crees

Through Entities such as the Cree School Board and Cree Human Resources Development, a number of specific training programs have been developed for Crees so that they can quickly meet the demands of Eeyou Istchee’s employment needs. Some of these programs are available locally and many of them even incorporate time off for Goose Break.

The following programs are all provided through Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre in Waswanipi. While the bulk of these courses can be done in Waswanipi at the training centre where there is housing available through the school’s residence, many of them are now opening up in individual communities. Inquire within your local employment office to find out more information on each program.

Accounting: This 1350-hour program is ideal for those who would like to learn basic accounting skills such as calculation and preparation of bills, invoices, receipts, and payments for a business. The program also features instruction on how to manage petty cash, a payroll, do price calculation, accounting tasks and fiscal year-end activities, income tax form preparation and accounting systems.

This program would also be ideal as a first step to prepare for higher learning in accounting and is available in various communities.

Health, Assistance and Nursing
Though this particular course does not graduate registered nurses, it is an ideal program for those who wish to work under a nursing staff as a practical nurse or nurse’s aid. Graduates from this program could also work with medical practitioners or other health care workers in a variety of different facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, extended-care facilities, rehabilitation centres, doctors’ offices, clinics, companies, private homes and community health centres. Studies last 1,800 hours, available at Sabtuan in Waswanipi only.

A graduate of this program would be constructing, erecting, maintaining and repairing wood structures, wood substitutes and other materials.

This 1350-hour program will ensure graduates can construct concrete forms, wood frames and steel bulkheads, to complete projects that involve making joints, assembly work, erecting and repairing wood and metal parts, applying interior and exterior finishes and landscaping projects. It is available in various communities.

Professional Cooking
A professional cooking course prepares the students to work in any variety of professional kitchens, including restaurants, camp cafeterias, hotels, Elder’s homes and other care facilities, either private or public. There is currently a high demand for professional cooks to staff the new mining camps that will be created through the Plan Nord.

In this 1470-hour program, students will learn safe and proper food preparation, how to use cooking tools and kitchen equipment, appropriate cooking techniques, preparation of fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, game, fish and seafood; to make soups, basic dough, pastries, hors d’oeuvres and entremets and showpieces for cold buffets. Students will also learn to prepare and serve various menus such as breakfast, table d’hôte, à la Carte and buffets. Available at the Sabtuan centre in Waswanipi only.

Food and Beverage Services
Similar to the professional cooking course, the food and beverage course is geared towards those looking to work in a professional kitchen but with only 960 hours of course time. This course is ideal for those looking for a quick start into the culinary arts, particularly at one of the new mining operations. It is offered in various communities.

Drilling and Blasting
This 900-hour course is widely available throughout the communities to accommodate the new mining operations in Eeyou Istchee as well as other related projects. It aims to prepare students to safely operate drilling and blasting equipment in a professional context. Courses are available in various communities.

Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Heavy Equipment Mechanics repair and maintain the kind of equipment that is currently in regular use on construction sites and in the mining sector in the north.

Those who take this 1800-course will learn the necessary skills to check and repair a variety of different heavy equipment. This program includes maintenance of hydraulic clutches, ordinary and semi-automatic transmissions, hydraulic brakes, steering gear boxes, suspensions and the drive shafts of the tractors, heavy trucks and other machines on construction sites. It also includes various other aspects of maintenance of diesel engines.

People in this field not only seek out the cause of equipment breakdowns, they also work to prevent them through proper machine maintenance.

Secretarial Studies
For those who prefer work in an office, secretarial studies is the perfect course to introduce you to the field of office administration. Learn computer, typing and office organizational skills geared at making you the ideal assistant. This 1485-hour course is available in various communities.

Cabinet Making
As no home is complete without cabinets, cabinetmakers are also in demand wherever houses are being built.

This 1650-hour program is ideal for anyone looking to make simple cabinets for new homes. Students in this program will learn how to design and make patterns, templates, jigs and fixtures for cabinets. They will also learn making wood furniture, furniture with carved, veneered or curved parts, furniture made of sheet materials, decorative woodwork and staircases; installing finished pieces; producing veneering and parquetry designs; carving simple designs; repairing and restoring furniture.

Those looking to go further in this field can seek out an apprenticeship outside of the communities where they can train under a professional to achieve the title of master cabinetmaker.

Bus Driving
If you’ve ever wanted to be that person who makes the “Wheels on the bus go round and round,” this is your opportunity. Happening in various different communities, this course will help you upgrade your driver’s license and give you additional skills to be the best bus driver you can be. This 330-hour course is available in various communities.

Ore Extraction
For those who are looking for long-term employment in mining, the ore extraction course is a prime place to start. Beginning again in March in Matagami, this 930-hour program gets the student prepared to use all of the necessary equipment in the field as well as providing necessary safety training.

Starting a Business
If you have ever dreamed of being your own boss but didn’t have the necessary skills to do so, now is your chance to take the basic course that will get you there! At 330 hours, this short program is geared at getting you ready to start up your own business and follow your dreams. Available at various locations.

Northern Building Maintenance
This 1320-hour course teaches students everything they need to know in order to be able to maintain buildings in northern climate conditions. Available in various communities.

While these are the courses currently under way or will be soon at various locations throughout Eeyou Istchee, there are yet more programs that have been offered in the past that will be offered again through Sabtuan. Future courses will be offered down the road to address specific employment opportunities on the horizon. To find out more call 1-866-921-4040 or go to: www.csbsaes.ca

Programs for Crees in Chibougamau

The City of Chibougamau offers some excellent training courses that are specifically designed for Crees and jobs within the Cree nation.

For those Crees who want to follow a career out on the land, the Business and Community Service of the Centre d’études collégiales à Chibougamau (CÉCC) has completely revamped their forestry and environment program in collaboration with the Cree nation to offer something special.

This Environmental Management Program was offered for the first time in 2011 and it has been designed specifically for environmental management within the Cree nation. Students in this program will learn about environmental development, interpretation, wildlife protection and conservation to lead to careers in environment, forestry, wildlife management and 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 long, 2700-hour course that was made possible by the Niskamoon Corporation, Cree Human Resources Department, Cree School Board and Hydro-Quebec.

For those who are not quite ready however to take the plunge into a proper career driven program, the CÉCC also offers upgrading courses so that students can get the proper academic credits required for more advanced programs. At the CÉCC, this program is called Ashuugan and it is also ideal for those who are just transitioning into collegial studies.

There is also the revolutionary nursing program at Chibougamau’s Cegep Saint-Félicien that began in 2008 and will be graduating its first crop of Cree nurses this spring. All of these students will graduate as registered nurses and will be able to practice anywhere within the Cree communities.

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

With the more drawn-out course schedule, Crees caring for young children or family Elders can still go to school and simultaneously give their attention to those who need it most.

A new course is opening up for the Fall 2012 semester for all those interested in taking this nursing course. And because the course is affiliated with McGill University, those in the course will have the opportunity to intern in Montreal at one of the city’s many hospitals.

The Ministry of Education, Cégep Saint-Félicien, Cree Human Resources Development, Cree School Board, Cree Health Board and Emploi Quebec all came together as partners to create this program as a means of addressing the Cree communities need to hire 100 new nurses.

To find out when the next time will be that any of these programs will be offered or for more information, call Pedagogical Advisor Carol Tremblay at 418-748-3903 ext. 226 for information on the nursing course and Diane Cloutier at 118-748-4996 ext. 221 for information on the Natural Environment Technology course.

Val d’Or Courses

If higher education is your goal but you want to remain in Northern Quebec, Val d’Or has much to offer in terms of Cegep and university programs adapted for northern Aboriginals.

The Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue offers their own Access to College program for those who may not have all of the necessary credentials to go into a diploma, certificate or bachelors programs. Available in both their regular and continuing education programs, while taking part in this program students will also have access to the First Nations Student Services (FNSS) department to brush up on their studying skills and also get help to transition on other levels.

For more information, go to: www.cegepat.qc.ca/accueil/premieres-nations/first-nations

Over at the L’Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), there are select programs for anglophone Aboriginal students that are specifically designed to accommodate both the students’ needs and the employment demands of Aboriginal communities in the north.

Under their programs for First Nations for the Fall 2012 semester, UQAT is currently offering certificates in Administration, Human Resource Management and Aboriginal Studies as well as a university studies predatory program for those in need of credits to get into a different program.

New this year, UQAT is also offering a part-time fine arts certificate that will be taught in Chibougamau instead of at the Val d’Or campus.

For more information or to apply, go to: www.uqat.ca/en/services/firstpeoples

Schools in the South

Southern Quebec and Ontario also have their share of schools that have programs that have been either specially adapted for Aboriginal students or offer programs with special Aboriginal interest such as Native studies courses or professional programs with Aboriginal enrichment. Here are just a few:

John Abbott College
John Abbott College is the choice for students looking to study in Montreal’s picturesque suburban borough of Sainte-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 where students get to earn credits towards their DEC (Diplôme d’études collégiales) and also offers them social support at the same time.

For more information go to: www.johnabbott.qc.ca

Also offered at John Abbott College exclusively, the Police Technology Program (A.E.C. JCA.0Q) for First Nations and Inuit Students program.

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

Algonquin College
With campuses in Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke, Algonquin College’s popularity can certainly be measured in its growth over the many years. And, with over 140 programs to choose from, Algonquin certainly has its perks!

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.

More information on these programs can be found at: extraweb.algonquincollege.com

Lakehead University
For those truly looking to sink their teeth into Aboriginal content at a university level, look no further than Lakehead U for a bounty of Aboriginal programming, particularly when it comes to languages and teaching Aboriginal languages.

Lakehead offers a help new students transition into academia through their Cultural and Support Services department and also offers two programs geared a 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 and is geared at getting Native students up to snuff for the mainstream nursing program.

On top of that, this university also offers an Honours Bachelors 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 whose dream it is 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 does not only incorporates meaningful collaborations with Aboriginal communities but also looks to be respectful of Aboriginal culture and history.

For more information on this specific program go to: www.nosm.ca

For those looking for information on the rest of Algonquin’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal programs, go to: www.lakeheadu.ca

Laurentian University
Sudbury’s Laurentian University not only has a large Aboriginal student population but also offers one of only two Bachelor of Native Social Work programs in Canada.

Their 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: www.laurentian.ca

Nipissing University
Eastern Ontario’s Nipissing University offers an entire department to assist Aboriginal students in successfully completing their degrees with everything from academic and cultural support, activities and even employment and career opportunities to support their 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: www.nipissingu.ca

The University of Ottawa
Specifically for Aboriginal students, the University of Ottawa offers a minor in Aboriginal Studies through the Faculty of arts and a Baccalaureate in Education through the Native Teacher Education Program.

What is most notable, however, is Ottawa U’s Aboriginal Health Program it offers through the Faculty of Medicine. It has a specific mandate to graduate Aboriginal doctors. Medical students from across the country flock to Ottawa U to compete for seats in the prestigious program.

For more information go to: www.uottawa.ca

Carleton University
Ontario’s Carleton University goes the extra mile when it comes to providing services and programming for Aboriginal students.

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

In terms of Aboriginal studies programs, Carleton offers Aboriginal Studies and the North as a special area of scholarship, leading to a degree of Master of Arts within the School of Canadian Studies.

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

As a means of extra support, Carleton 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: www.carleton.ca