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John Custer: An Inspiring Story of a GDI Client

Aug 6, 2015

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Originally from Pelican Narrows, SK, John was living in Prince Albert until a few months ago when “an opportunity came and (he) made a big boy step that has changed (his) life for the better.” John has worked on and off over the years as a labourer. His girlfriend, who is currently attending Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI), suggested to him that he “should talk to someone at GDI regarding getting a career rather than minimum wage jobs.”

When an Employment Counselor at GDI told John that he could work as an apprentice carpenter while getting paid, he “was pleasantly surprised.” Through the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project, John was offered a placement with Coram Construction and the following day he moved to Regina to start his apprenticeship training. Two days later, on April 19, 2015, he reported to work at the Agriculture Place (Agri-Tower) site in downtown Regina. Of his experience John says, “I love it. It’s amazing!”

It was a big decision for John to take up a job in Regina and leave his girlfriend and four young children in Prince Albert. He says, “I needed to do something to build my future and that of my children.” But the move to Regina was not without challenges. John had difficulty finding affordable housing. So he spent his first month in Regina staying in an emergency housing /shelter.

Equally challenging for John was accessing work tools and affordable transportation in the new and bigger city. However, the GDI Training and Employment Centre in Regina worked with John to resolve most of the challenges.

Among the things John likes at his workplace are that “All the guys are great to work with. For the first time, I work with guys from different ethnic groups, people from different countries, yet it’s a brotherly bond.” He also points out that “the (work) shadow program in which a rookie employee is paired with someone more experienced means that I have a mentor that I can ask anything. Plus, folks at GDI are always watching my back.”

John says that he wants to get his journeyperson certification in carpentry. The 28 year old hopes to be a foreman, and be able to lead a crew at a construction site. For now he enjoys his work and states that he has received positive reviews from his supervisor. “I am just trying to do my best and to stay safe. I got more financial independence now: my own apartment, and Coram treats me well.” John asserts that “this is an opportunity of a lifetime. My life is changing for the better. I can feel it each day. and guess what, I am doing pretty good. I surprise myself. I have never missed work and I have never come to work late.” He is “thankful to GDI for changing my life.” You are welcome, John.

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Gabriel Dumont Institue

GDI is a Saskatchewan-based educational, employment and cultural institute serving Métis across the province

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