Indigenous learners, job seekers get boost from Google Canada

Technology giant is committing $600K to scholarships, free training in high-demand digital fields


Melissa Adams wanted to edit her organization’s website herself. When the mid-career librarian and archivist saw an ad for free training in computer programming on social media, she applied.

“So, I didn’t hear back right away,” Adams told APTN News. “There was a little bit of a wait and then it was also kind of scary at first, knowing that I’d made this commitment to it but also exciting just to be able to know that I, to know that I had this opportunity,”

The course was run by ComIT, which provides free professional development and training opportunities in information technology.

Its Recoding Futures program trains workers in subjects like Javascript, HTML, Design Thinking, CSS, and Node and runs virtually, which was helpful to Adams who did not wish to leave her territory or switch careers while COVID-19 moves more work online.

“I think for me, going into this I was intimidated just because when you think tech, you don’t think of a middle-aged First Nations woman,” said Adams, a member of the Nisga’a Nation, Killer Whale Clan.

“But taking these courses I saw that I could do this. I could learn and like, aunties work hard! We can do stuff! So it’s pretty awesome and confidence-building. Just learning more about that side of technology, what’s going on behind the scenes, I think will be really useful.”

Adams is not alone in her desire to learn new skills, according to Indspire president and CEO Mike Degagne.

Indspire is working in partnership with ComIT and NPower Canada to provide job training programs in digital technology and scholarships to Indigenous job seekers.

“The first year of the program demonstrated that Indigenous youth are keen to pursue this kind of training,” Degagne said in a statement.

On Dec. 15, Google Canada announced it would commit $500,000 in grant money to ComIT’s Recoding Futures program and $100,000 to support Google Career Certificate scholarships and job training through Indspire.

Degagne said the funding will have a broad impact.

“Not only will it benefit them on an individual level, it will also ensure that their communities as a whole will benefit from their newfound knowledge, ensuring that Indigenous communities across the country will be better able to participate in the digital skills-based economy.”

Google Canada vice president and country manager Sabrina Geremia said the company is proud to support the need for new skillsets and desire for new careers in technology.

“The social and economic hardships felt by many during this pandemic have brought some heavy truths to the surface and we now have an opportunity to build back a more inclusive and resilient economy,” said Geremia in the funding announcement.

Applications are now open for ComIT’s Recoding Futures program. Interested applicants can visit ComIT.org to register.

For more information on the Google Career Certificates visit g.co/certificates-canada. Information about available scholarships through Indspire is available at Indspire.ca.

For Adams, a future course in Javascript will be helpful to her archival work at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

“I think it’s a tool that we can use as Indigenous people and I definitely think that we need more Indigenous people in these kinds of professions to think about how, how we approach what’s useful to us,” Adams said.

“We have our own laws and such and our own ways of managing knowledge and information. So I think it’s really important that we have more of us involved in the technology field and other fields that manage information so that we can put those views forward.”

Video Journalist / Toronto

Allana is a graduate of the Indigenous Studies program at Trent University and the new media journalism program at Sheridan College. She worked at Sudbury.com and TVO before coming to APTN National News where she now covers Indigenous stories in Southern Ontario as a video journalist. McDougall is a member of Hiawatha First Nation.

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