A Vancouver Island family services program has launched a work placement program to empower Indigenous youth from Qualicum to Malahat to seek employment and develop job skills.
Team Lead Tim Harris said that Kw’umut Lelum’s Step Up! Program is important work in getting rid of stigma against Indigenous youth.
“I grew up with racism. I was on the receiving end of it all the time,” Harris said. “Making sure our kids have opportunities is the biggest thing and being good citizens — being positive role models.”
Step Up will help young people develop basic employment skills like building a resume, organizing transportation to and from work, preparing for a job interview, and learning about workplace safety and other job readiness skills. Youth will participate in 100 to 120 hours of work-based training with a wage subsidy from Kw’umut Lelum.
“It’s the full spectrum of employment that we’re working with them on. It’s not just about getting to your job and working, it’s everything that comes with it. We teach a lot of life skills… that’s what Step Up is all about,” Harris said.
Step Up Employment Navigator Kaylie McKinley said that program facilitators work with each youth’s individual needs and interests to hone their passions into a career.
“They have these passions and strengths already. We want to pull those out and dive deeper into them,” she said.
Kw’umut Lelum works with nine central Island First Nations: Snuneymuxw, Snaw-Naw-As, Stz’uminus, Qualicum, Málexeł, Penelakut, Halalt, Lyackson, and Lake Cowichan First Nation. Youth from the member nations can be referred through Kw’umut Lelum to participate in the Step Up program.
So far, more than 60 youth from Qualicum to Malahat are participating in the program.
McKinley said that Step Up is looking for employers to participate in the program. Any businesses in the Central Island area that want to support Indigenous youth with entry-level employment are encouraged to reach out to the Step Up program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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