Learning from Practice: Working Around the Barriers

How do people get jobs or training when they live in isolated areas, when there are no employment centres, no easy access to this kind of support in their community, when limited internet access prevents even the kind of online support provided through web-based employment skills development programs?

In this episode of Learning From Practice, we travel to the community of Spuzzum, a small, rural, First Nations community with few job opportunities and no public transportation.

Employment services in Spuzzum are provided under a federal mandate to support Aboriginal employment and training. Once known as AHRDA, or Service Canada Aboriginal Human Resource Development Strategy, the program has transitioned to become Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training, or ASET. Along with the transition has come restructured and redefined services.

Since the summer of 2011, employment services for Spuzzum have been provided by Stó:Lō Aboriginal Skills & Employment Training, or SASET. SASET’s mandate covers a catchment area extending from Surrey to Boston Bar and three communities that are part of the Lower Stl’atl’imx Tribal Council. It includes all First Nations and Inuit people living there regardless of whether they live on or off-reserve, in an urban or rural area, and regardless of their place of origin and status under the Indian Act.

The area includes a large and diverse population, able to access employment services through SASET Employment Counselors or Career Development Practitioners (CDPs) in 23 locations located throughout the catchment area. However, in communities like Spuzzum, where the closest employment office is 50 kilometres away and there is no public transportation, there’s a strong argument for outreach, for bringing services to the community. To meet this need, SASET offers regularly scheduled employment services in offices found in 18 locations.

This is the story of how outreach works in the small community of Spuzzum.