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Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services’ (KKETS) Aboriginal Skills Advancement Pilot Program Holds Graduation

Thunder Bay – Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services proudly recognizes approximately 46 adult learners, members of Matawa First Nations communities, who completed the Aboriginal Skills Advancement Pilot Program (ASAPP). Many are now graduates with a General Education Development Diploma (GED) or Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

The Ceremony took place today from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm in the Airlane – Madrid Room, 698 West Arthur Street, Thunder Bay.

Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen means ‘Teaching Knowledge.’ KKETS was established by the Matawa First Nations to ensure its members receive the training and education they need to secure jobs, and to capitalize on opportunities from the Ring of Fire developments. The Aboriginal Skills Advancement Pilot Program’s primary objective is to develop an educated and highly skilled workforce in the north and to structure attainable learning achievements geared to the learner for entry into the labour market , further post-secondary, apprenticeship trades or specialized training that is synchronized with the growth of the mining sector and other supportive industries.

“When an opportunity to improve the quality of our lives presents itself, our people take that opportunity. The KKET’s ASAPP program has been set up to help our community members get the skills and training they need to improve their lives in the new economy that is emerging due to resource development. It is great to see 46 of our community members graduate and move on to more training. I believe the KKETS approach is going to help hundreds, possibly thousands, of First Nation members achieve a better life for themselves, their families and their communities” said David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO Matawa First Nation Management.

“The Aboriginal Skills Advancement Pilot Program is a wonderful example of our government’s support and collaboration with Aboriginal peoples to help students obtain the skills needed to support economic development across Northern Ontario. I’m very proud that our government is able to provide an additional $565,000 in support for KKETS programming; ensuring that even more Matawa First Nation community members will have access to the remarkable and unique opportunities that they provide,” said the Honorable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines.

“This is a proud day for many of us. Ensuring our Matawa First Nation members have the education, training and skills to fully participate in today’s economy and labour market is integral to KKETS mission -To provide culturally appropriate opportunities for education, training and employment by providing professional advisory support services, relevant systems and programs to empower individuals to take initiative for change in their own lives. The graduating students will now be ready for whatever comes their way whether it’s post-secondary, training or employment. Acquiring a high school diploma is the start of a promising life for the student and also brings hope and inspiration to current and future generations to nurture and excel at their hopes and dreams” said Elsie MacDonald, KKETS Board Member President.

“KKETS is making progress to ensure Matawa First Nation members are prepared, educated and trained for employment resulting from the Ring of Fire. Through the pilot year, ASAPP has seen 63 adult learners graduating with a high school diploma out of 101 participating students which is tremendous success from a flexible and unique program. These great results prove that ASAPP is working and meets the needs of the individual learner in a culturally appropriate manner. It is KKETS anticipation to only see the number of adult high school graduates continue to increase for Matawa First Nations” said KKETS Program Manager, Morris Wapoose.

“It warms the ASAPP team’s heart to see positive changes occuring in each student’s lives and each will continue that momentum while pursuing the correct path whether it’s post-secondary, employment, specialized training or apprenticeship trades” said ASAPP Project Coordinator, Carolyn Zadnik.

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