Mar 13, 2017
By Sylvia Moss
In the spring of 2016, we received a phone call from Rupertsland Institute, the Métis Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) agreement holder in Alberta. Belle Dy-Reyes, who is one of the managers for Rupertsland Institute, had called me to discuss criteria for our clients in Saskatchewan. We proceeded to exchange information and share the challenges facing Lloydminster with the downturn in the oil and gas industry. Belle and I arranged to have a follow up in-person meeting in Lloydminster.
Lloydminster is unique in that it is a border city along Saskatchewan and Alberta. The challenge is that while many Métis people who live in Lloydminster always visit or call GDI Training and Employment office, those who live on Alberta side of the border cannot access GDI Training and Employment funding. Similarly, the Métis clients who are Saskatchewan residents do not qualify for Rupertsland Institute funding. Up to this point, Wendy Weeks-Feltham, Employment Counselor at GDI Training and Employment North Battleford, has been travelling to Lloydminster to meet with clients at the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre, as well as with local businesses in hopes of bringing them into the Institute’s Western Diversification Program (WDP) partnership. But things took a positive turn when we received a great offer from our fellow Métis ASETS holder.
At a meeting with Belle last September, she proposed that employment counselors from GDI Training and Employment and Rupertsland Institute should work at the same location in order to effectively serve the Métis people of Lloydminster. Rupertsland Institute then offered to share space with us in their mobile RV which they use as their offices. Both Belle and I agreed that the offer would be of huge benefit to all Métis clients in Lloydminster and area, because no matter what side of the boarder they lived, there will always be someone nearby to serve them.
A memorandum of understanding was developed between GDI Training and Employment and Rupertsland Institute. It is a joint agreement stating that GDI Training and Employment and Rupertsland Institute will partner as ASETS holders to work in a collaborative approach to serve Métis clients. Since October 2016, Wendy has been using the Rupertsland Institute RV as her base when in working in Lloydminster.
Now four months later, we can say we have a strengthened relationship with a fellow Métis ASETS holder and working out of the RV has been a positive experience. Communication between us as partners has been important. For example, if the RV cannot travel due to weather conditions, Wendy is notified so she can make alternative plans. The private office space in the RV where Wendy meets with her clients, the access to computers in the RV, and the excellent staff all make this a win-win partnership.
This is perhaps the only existing two-province ASETS partnership. We look forward to working with Rupertsland Institute, sharing information, attending job fairs, and any other opportunities that will mutually benefit our Métis clients.