The Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association (PGNAETA) opened up a location in Prince Rupert this summer in mid-June, and the man running it says that the program is already getting good results after only two months
The PGNAETA is a organization based in Prince George whose mission it is to help Aboriginal people who might be unemployed or underemployed to find full-time gainful employment. The organization does this by helping clients realize what their career goals are and making referrals to
training or licensing programs, classes, or work-placements. They also can spend government funds to assist the client to afford the training and sometimes to help the employer pay their client’s wages.
Clarence Martin is the man running the program in Prince Rupert. He used to be the president of the Skeena Native Development Society for eight years before it was shutdown by the Federal Government. The feds took the funding and mandate of the old organization and contracted on a trial-basis to the PGNAETA instead, now Martin works with them.
“I’ve been hired for a period of six months until the Federal Government makes a decision on who they’re going to award that big contract to . . .I’m really enjoying it, and the clients here in Prince Rupert are enjoying it because it’s easy-access now. Before, they had to go to Terrace to do the paperwork,” says Martin.
Since Martin opened his little PGNAETA satellite-office at the Northwest Community College campus, the response just by word-of-mouth was so overwhelming that he had to hire an assistant from the community to keep up with all the administrative work.
Martin points out that his program is not trying to compete with other organizations that do similar work such as the Hecate Strait or Edge employment centres.
“We’re working with those groups, their First Nation’s economic development programs or their post-secondary programs,” says Martin.
The organizations promotional material says that clients should be Aboriginal people who are “willing to live a role model lifestyle,” not only just for their family, but for the whole community.
“One of my clients came in here, and she had secretarial experience and that’s all she had. She told me that she wanted to be a role model to her family, like her son, who’s about 21. She wanted to change her lifestyle, and to me, I want to see her achieve that role model lifestyle,” says Martin.
Martin says that one of the reasons that so many Aboriginal people seem to fall into a rut where they don’t have a steady job or are working one that they aren’t happy with, is because they don’t have any clear career path or goal. He says that some people just take whatever job they find or a government cheque and never try anything else.
“Another part of it is life-skills training. Some of the people who come over here have lived in the villages for most of their lives, and they come to Prince Rupert,” said Martin.
“We have to let them know that this is what is required to work in offices or working at the port for example. You have to change your lifestyle, you have to be on time and such. And another thing we have to warn them of is not to fall through the cracks.”