Unemployment is a chronic problem for Canada’s Aboriginal people, but Cold Lake First Nations in Alberta have achieved success that’s worth trumpeting.
Band member James Blackman started the Primco Dene Group of Companies.
The businesses are wholly owned by the Cold Lake band, includes a catering company, an emergency medical services company, and a well-servicing company, among others.
So far the Primco Dene Group employs 650 people, and 500 of them are Aboriginal.
Employees may try several different jobs before finding the one they prefer. The result is greater satisfaction for both employee and employer.
Some employment policies are specifically designed to accommodate cultural needs.
More bereavement days are allowed each year, reflecting the importance of funeral ceremonies in Aboriginal families.
A high school diploma is not considered essential, and many employees have been successful in demonstrating their abilities in other ways.
They also take a more relaxed approach to things like criminal records checks which can be a major hurdle for Aboriginals to clear.
Businesses in Cold Lake do not believe that a past mistake should automatically prevent someone from moving forward into a better life.
I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.
For more on First Nations initiatives, visit our website www.fcpp.org.