When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded their work and issued 94 Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation in June 2015, it became a catalyst for reBOOT Canada to align its efforts to bridging the educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
A survey we conducted in the same year revealed that donors were greatly concerned about issues around indigenous youth. This led us to develop an indigenous youth outreach framework and programming with the goal of improving prospects for indigenous youth and building capacity in their communities.
In 2017, reBOOT Canada launched the Indigenous Youth Tool Kit and Boot Camp programs with the goal of increasing inclusion of indigenous youth and communities in the digital economy by providing exposure to basic computer hardware and operating systems. The program started at our Toronto location in 2017. In 2018, we expanded it by arranging one day workshop events hosted by Indigenous organizations and in 2019, workshops took place at Indigenous communities in Ontario.
Through skills training and coaching, our aim was to create a sense of self-efficacy and to build self-reliance. The knowledge they acquire in the fundamental and routine process of detecting, troubleshooting, diagnosing, and implementing IT solutions in desktop support activities have various applications and can be a steppingstone to a career in the field. We hope that this can be a starting point for indigenous youth to pursue a vocation in this sector.
Indigenous youth face various barriers to employment, including low literacy and education level (24% vs 84% graduation rate for the rest of Canada), stereotyping, cultural differences, low self-esteem impacting presentations and interviewing skill, and even the lack of a driver’s license. These issues may deter indigenous youth from even applying to posted positions, assuming they have none of the qualifications and the effort futile. reBOOT Canada works through partnerships like Miziwe Biik in Toronto, and Economic Development offices in communities, to proactively recruit candidates for paid openings in our organization from the indigenous community.
Starting in 2019, reBOOT Canada has partnered with 6 remote Indigenous communities across Canada to provide remote youth mentorship and skills development through the deployment and maintenance of a free Wi-Fi hotspot. We activated or have plans to activate Community reLAY hotspot in Eel River Bar First Nation, Pic River Ontario (Biigtigong Nishnaabeg), and in Hamlet of Tulita, Northwest Territories (Tulita Dene). Meanwhile, our community partners are in the process of recruiting and hiring young persons (aged 15 to 29) in Ty-Histanis, British Columbia (Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nation); Carmacks, Yukon (Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation); and Moose Factory, Ontario (Moose Cree First Nation). For the next phase of Community reLAY, reBOOT Canada is facilitating communications and networking between our partner communities to support the inclusive development of community and youth-led solutions aimed at addressing key challenges facing remote Indigenous youth. Although this program faced some interruption in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now back on track.
reBOOT Canada is committed to supporting indigenous people by investing in programs that restore dignity, empower, and encourage self-sufficiency to meet their community’s needs. On September 30th, we ask everyone to think about the victims of the residential school system, the inequities of colonization and we ask that everyone learn about and act on the Calls to Action.