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New partnership commits new career pathways for 100 Indigenous youth in Canada

By Cia Kouparitsas 
Published: April 17, 2023
READ TIME: 3 minutes
A new multi-year Indigenous upskilling program is set to guide 100 First Nations individuals into high-demand digital roles, leveraging innovative social impact technologies and targeted IT training.

Thanks to a new partnership between the Indigenous Friends Association (IFA) and WithYouWithMe (WYWM), the program will connect youth from the IFA’s IndigiTECH Mentorship Program with prospective employers via WYWM’s Potential platform and provide them with the training required to succeed in digital careers. 

In Canada today, Indigenous Peoples remain one of the most underemployed and under-resourced populations – a challenge IFA and WYWM are committed to addressing.  

Over the next 10 years, it’s estimated more than 750,000 Indigenous youth will advance through the education system and into early employment as the demand for digital skills continues to grow. IFA and WYWM aim to utilise this opportunity to support Indigenous youth into the technology sector by equipping them with skills in high demand areas.  

Indigenous youth in Canada

WithYouWithMe’s Jari Jewitt, an Anishinaabe and member of Nipissing First Nation, says programs like this are key to effecting positive change for the First Nations community across the Canadian employment landscape.  

“The launch of this program is set to play a small but important role in addressing the longstanding and systemic disadvantage faced by Indigenous and First Nations peoples in Canada.”  

“As someone who’s been through WYWM’s Indigenous program, it’s incredibly rewarding to be enabling young people with the same opportunity I had to discover my true potential and find a meaningful career that I’m passionate about.” 

“Before I found WYWM, I didn’t think there were pathways for people like me – formerly a kindergarten teacher – to break into lucrative tech careers. After completing my training, however, I landed my first role as a Data Analyst in the federal government and haven’t looked back. I see this program as a great opportunity for me to return the favor to Indigenous Peoples who are just starting out,” said Jewitt. 

The program recently co-hosted its first Indigenous youth ‘Career Accelerator’ event welcoming a cohort of 25 Indigenous students into its employment program. Plans are well underway for a second Accelerator in early Summer.  

Indigenous Youth Career Accelerator

Founded in 2015, the Indigenous Friends Association is a proudly Indigenous-led not-for-profit that helps Indigenous youth prepare for career opportunities in digital spaces. The IndigiTECH Mentorship Program is a three-phase, eight-month program which includes a 12-week paid internship, training programs, career services and ongoing support.  

Support Indigenous Youth

IFA’s Program Coordinator Katelyn Bartlett said the IndigiTECH Mentorship Program works to create diverse and inclusive virtual learning spaces which work to honor connectedness, belonging and mutual support so that we are all valued and appreciated.  

“We believe in fostering impactful learning communities where everyone can access the resources and opportunities needed to thrive throughout our program, honoring each participant's unique journey into both equitable and sustainable virtual careers and internship opportunities."

Katelyn Bartlett,
IFA Program Coordinator

WYWM’s Indigenous Program is designed to address the underemployment of Indigenous People in Canada, Australia and the US by empowering them with the necessary skills to secure meaningful and fulfilling careers in technology. The program seeks to ensure every participant has access to free education, training, and job placement support, regardless of their level of experience.  

The company’s recently released Reconciliation Action Plan sets out measurable tasks to ensure it is actively contributing to reconciliation. 

“WithYouWithMe recognizes the importance of understanding and respecting Indigenous cultures, and we strive to incorporate these values into our organization,” says Caleb Walker, WYWM’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Pursuits. “Indigenous People have the talent, skills, and drive to excel in the tech industry, and through partnerships like IFA, we are committed to creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace.” 

Find out more about WithYouWithMe's Indigenous programs in Canada and Australia.

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