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Child care help, training aid will help lower employment barriers for Indigenous people, says handbook

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City of Saskatoon, employers say businesses need advice to improve outcomes
Publication Date: 
27 Aug 2019


A new handbook for Saskatoon businesses has adopted the Cree word "kipa," or "hurry up," as its mantra when looking at Indigenous employment.

The City of Saskatoon and more than a dozen community partners released the Indigenous Engagement Employer Handbook on Tuesday.

"A lot of this comes from the front lines, from Indigenous people working in big organizations," said Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, senior director of Indigenous engagement at the University of Saskatchewan. 

According to the report, Indigenous employment is on the decline in Saskatchewan.

"There was a strong movement for Indigenous employment, I'd say almost 20 years ago and we were doing quite well," said Wasacase-Lafferty.

"Then, the strategy started to get a little quiet. We want to breathe new life into that."

At the same time, there has been some improvement in the level of educational attainment among Indigenous people in Saskatchewan, the report says. It indicates that as of 2016, six per cent of the province's Indigenous people did not have a certificate, diploma or degree.

That statistic has dropped 27.5 per cent since 2011 — meaning there are, in fact, more Indigenous people in the province who now have at least that level of educational attainment.

Sixty-one per cent had a high school diploma or equivalent in 2016 — a 37 per cent jump from 2011. Thirty-three per cent had post-secondary education or beyond — a nine per cent drop from 2011.

The handbook contains a number of suggestions for employers — from paying for training, providing entry-level positions with opportunities for enhancement and providing childcare.

"This is information that we've pulled together for the last 20 years to present back to other employers to help build their confidence to also rise to the challenge," she said.

 Ultimately, Wasacase-Lafferty said it's in everyone's best interests to get more Indigenous people working.

"I don't think we would be able to sustain ourselves if we continue down the path of ignoring a large segment of the population of contributing to the economy," she said.