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STC Sponsors Youth Career Fair

The Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) demonstrated their commitment to youth by hosting a Career Fair. The event was intended to help First Nation youth but did not exclude any young people who were interested.

The seven member Bands of the STC brought students in from their communities. Several Saskatoon high schools also participated.

Peggy Vermette, Career Fair organizer, says that, in total, approximately 325 students attended. In addition, a large number of students attended as volunteers. They participated in the steering committee for the event, at the registration table and as general help.

Vermette states that the Career Fair was intended to "give the students as many opportunities as possible". She says that the event brought students together with a cross-section of potential employers and post-secondary representatives. In all, 24 companies and educational institutions, among them SaskTel, SIEF, SIAST and the Native Access Program to Nursing, set up booths and interacted with the students.

The representatives offered the students advice beyond information about their programs or companies. Vermette says that they provided students with the answers to questions such as: "What type of education would I need?" and "How much can I make in this position?"

The potential income is a serious consideration for a number of students says Vermette. Many of the students are single parents, particularly single mothers. They must consider, she says, a career that will ultimately provide well for both themselves and their children.

Vermette states that many of these young women are today being steered into careers that may be considered to be "traditionally male". These include a number of trades such as welding or mechanics. The advantage is that these careers generally pay better than those considered to be "traditionally female" careers.

In determining an appropriate career path, the students learned that they must ask themselves, "What do I need to be successful." The Career Fair provided the students with workshops on resume writing and interview techniques that will aid them in the search for a suitable career. Vermette says, "Every student left the workshops with a current, usable resume."

Guest speakers Barry Bear, Joyce Whitebear Reid, Chester Knight, Lillian Dyck and David Peeace also offered advice to the participants. These speakers offered information on careers related to the arts, math and sciences and medicine. Vermette stresses the importance of these presentations since First Nation youth do not always consider careers in these areas.

Current statistics suggest that by 2010, an estimated 50 percent of Saskatchewan's workforce will be Aboriginal. As a result, says Vermette, "We need to support our youth."

STC is using the Career Fair as a means to that goal. They are adopting a preventative rather than remedial approach. "Self-sufficiency is the ultimate goal for training and employment," says Vermette.

Vermette encourages Saskatchewan's First Nation youth to take advantage of programs and existing opportunities. She stresses that finding a career and employment itself should really be an exciting process. "It can change your life."