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THUNDER BAY, ON: Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS) announced today that from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST they participated in an Aboriginal Skills Advancement Program (ASAP) Orange Shirt Day Walk acknowledging the residential school legacy they experience as Indigenous Peoples. KKETS teachers and staff were joined by approximately 81 students of the ASAP program. They walked from Van Norman Street, to Algoma Street, to John Street, to Court Street, and ended at the KKETS office at 28 Cumberland Street North. They were met with support from Chiefs of their First Nations as they passed the Matawa First Nations Management building at 233 South Court Street towards the end of their walk.

The ASAP Walk is in advance of Orange Shirt Day, an annual event that takes place on September 30 to remember the experiences of former students of Indian Residential Schools and to commit to ongoing reconciliation. The ASAP Walk is part of a class students undergo as part of their studies. Previous to today’s walk, they recently participated in a presentation on the impacts of historical trauma, intergenerational grief and residential schools by Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, Indigenous Chair on Truth and Reconciliation on behalf of Lakehead University.

The ASAP Orange Shirt Day Walk is tied into the trauma-informed approach to service delivery in addressing Aboriginal workforce development that KKETS has been delivering through the ASAP program since 2012. They graduated their 5th cohort of students this past March. A recent case study entitled: Intergenerational Healing and Growth – A Case Study of the Aboriginal Skills Advancement Program (June 29, 2018) by the Ontario Centre for Workforce Innovation has highlighted their approach and has confirmed that the ASAP program is achieving success rates for their students considerably higher than traditional adult learning settings.

ASAP offers the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and certification education in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It is a unique education and training program designed to meet the needs of Indigenous adult learners aged 22 years and above. It is founded on the knowledge that each learner brings to the program the shared goal of empowerment through education and training, and each individual arrives at the program with their own dynamic set of strengths, needs, and challenges. ASAP was developed to address the immediate and evolving wrap-around needs of diverse learners by offering adjunctive services and supports that are be responsive to their needs. Many, if not all, have been affected by the Indian Residential School legacy either first-hand or inter-generationally.

This was the 1st time that the ASAP program assembled students in this kind of walk acknowledging Orange Shirt Day in Thunder Bay.

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