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NORTH BATTLEFORD, SASKATCHEWAN (September 25, 2013) – The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today joined Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs (BATC) at the grand opening of the Atoskewin Success Centre.
“Since being appointed as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development earlier this year I have traveled across Canada to listen to many First Nation Chiefs, membership and stakeholders and one of the top concerns is the need for effective skills training programs,” said Minister Valcourt. “Today I am happy to announce that our Government is listening. We are working with First Nation partners such as the Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs and the provinces to create the change that First Nations have asked for.”
“I commend the leadership shown by the BATC and their commitment to reduce reliance on income assistance while encouraging job creation through skills training. This initiative will lead to greater First Nation participation in the economy, healthier, more self-sufficient First Nation communities, and a stronger Canada.”
“‘Atoskewin’, the Cree word for “work”, was chosen as part of the name for the Centre, a ‘one stop shop’ concept to streamline services to clients with a mandate to reduce dependency on social assistance,” said Battlefords Agency Tribal Council ChiefsExecutive Officer, Neil Sasakamoose. “With the support of industry and our federal partners the Centre has become a reality.”
The first facility of its kind in Saskatchewan, the Atoskewin Success Centre will provide access to social development, employment and training, and services to its member First Nations.
“Canada’s long-term prosperity depends on the labour market participation of all its citizens,” said the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development). “In partnership with Aboriginal organizations, industry and other stakeholders, the Government of Canada is helping Aboriginal people get the skills and training they need to secure meaningful employment.”
The Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs is building on recent success with its aggregated approach to income assistance delivery. In the past year, the Tribal Council reduced income assistance by 14% among four of its member communities and reduced its caseload by 225 clients.
In addition the Government of Canada is investing $241 million in new funding over four years to help young First Nation members to achieve their full potential through training and improved incentives for labour market participation. This new approach to income assistance improvements will focus on supporting approximately 14,000 First Nation individuals aged 18-24 to become employable. These investments will be targeted to First Nation youth receiving Income Assistance, providing them with access to a wider, more personalized range of training, education and career counseling programs that will help them get jobs.
The new approach will be implemented incrementally and is building on the last three years of successful pilot projects. Partnerships are being undertaken across Canada, where the Government of Canada has been working with willing First Nations, the provincial governments, and the private sector to link First Nations with training and jobs. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canadais currently working with First Nations, First Nation organizations and other interested parties on proposals to access these new investments.
The Battlefords Agency Tribal Chiefs, established and incorporated in 2007, is a tribal council based in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. The First Nations that comprise BATC are Ahtahkakoop, Moosomin, Red Pheasant, Sweetgrass, Stoney Knoll and Saulteaux. The Atosewin Success Centre is an aggregate of the following three departments: Industry Relations, Employment Training and Social Development. BATC is devoted to improving employment and education opportunities for surrounding First Nation communities through its networking and partnerships with governments and other agencies with similar goals.
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