Ottawa’s first Indigenous career fair draws scores of job-seeking youth

Charmaine Hester knows that landing a job sometimes takes luck.

But the 23-year-old from the Cree Nation of Waskaganish says it’s easier to find employment when she can talk to potential bosses face-to-face.

That’s what she was among the more than 160 job-seeking youth at the first Indigenous career fair at Ottawa City Hall on Thursday.

“It can be hard, but at times it’s very easy,” said Hester, who moved to Ottawa six years ago. “I’ve gotten really lucky, but that’s why I go to career fairs like this cause … it’s so much easier to just talk to the employer and learn about whatever they have here.”

The fair was geared towards First Nations, Metis and Inuit job seekers and included over a dozen presenters from public health sectors, construction groups, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities.

Currently, Ottawa has an Indigenous population of close to 13,000 people. And, as in other cities, statistics highlight lower-than-average employment and income rates for Indigenous people.

That’s why organizer Amanda Kilabuk, of the Tungasuvvingat Inuit resource centre, says it was important to host the career fair.

“It’s a pan-Indigenous run and hosted event, and it’s great to get all the Indigenous youth and mature job seekers out and connect them with Indigenous-friendly organizations,” she said, adding she was pleased with the turnout.

While some youth said they were still unsure about what they want to do, many said the career fair helped them to think about their future.

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