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TRC92: Youth Employment….and how WPRC got there

WPRC spent the early months of 2015 developing an updated five-year Framework for Action. The new Framework includes ten poverty-reduction related aspirations for Winnipeg. As part of this work, WPRC members identified ‘achieving independence through income’ as a priority aspiration to focus on going forward.

Subsequent consultations and demographic projections for our community led us to a conclusion that within ‘achieving independence through income’,  youth employment through an Indigenous lens is an area of critical importance in terms of meaningful poverty reduction in our city. The WPRC (whose membership includes leaders from education, training and employment/business) was seen as well positioned to support a collective impact approach that would assist youth in moving out of poverty by increasing opportunities for good jobs – with benefits and opportunities for advancement.

Recognizing that there is significant work already being done in Winnipeg in the area of Indigenous youth training and employment, WPRC set out to learn what was working well, and to identify gaps and potential  opportunities.

The WPRC learned that in Winnipeg,  numerous community organizations are training Indigenous people for jobs. These organizations identified that finding pathways into employment once their participants have completed the training, is a significant challenge. At the same time, Winnipeg’s private sector leaders expressed that business understands the opportunity and urgency for increasing Indigenous participation in their work forces, but they were unsure how to go about making those connections, and how to provide supportive work environments.

With this gap identified, WPRC saw an opportunity to work toward bridging it.

At the same time, in 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its report, which includes 94 Calls to Action. These Calls to Action are directed toward numerous sectors throughout Canadian society and provide a road map for what each sector can do to move toward truth and reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Call to Action #92 is directed to the corporate sector, calling on them to not only train and hire Indigenous people, but also commit to educating management and staff on the history and legacy of Indigenous people in Canada and include training on intercultural competency, human rights and anti-racism.

This Call to Action is the guide for what became TRC92: Youth Employment’the new WPRC initiative – 2016-2021.

TRC92: Youth Employment incorporates three strategies, informed by Call to Action #92:

  • Raise Employer awareness about Indigenous history and legacy
  • Workplace education about Indigenous history and legacy, and training in anti-racism and intercultural safety
  • New connections for employment

An ‘Employer Consortium’ made up of twelve private-sector employers meets regularly to learn together and share experiences and collaboratively problem-solve barriers. The Consortium is led by Dave Angus (former co-chair of the WPRC, former CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, current President of Johnston Group). He describes the purpose of the Employer Consortium as “a journey toward truth and reconciliation incorporating business-to-business learning.”


Employer Consortium members in a learning session, with Kevin Lamoureux at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

WPRC has built relationships with ten community organizations that are doing the work of training Indigenous youth for jobs. Connecting the Employer Consortium to these organizations not only gives them access to  job seekers, but also provides valuable learning about the important work going on in the community, and what youth are looking for and the challenges they face.

Employer Consortium members meet with leaders of community organizations.

Employers in a conversation circle with participants at BUILD (Building Urban Industries through Local Development).

Using a Collective Impact approach, TRC92: Youth Employment is intended as a learning experience; an opportunity to move forward on the three strategies in a step-by-step iterative manner, building on what we’re learning as we go. Engaging private-sector employers and community partners in this way is an innovative approach which will inform opportunities to scale up Indigenous employment into the future.

Long-term goal: Guided by a journey toward truth and reconciliation,

Winnipeg has equitable access to good jobs, and intercultural inclusivity in the workplace

 as a normalized practice.