The Grand Council of the Crees

The Grand Opening of the Sabtuaan Regional Vocational Training Centre in Waswanipi, QC

Remarks by Deputy Grand Chief Ashley Iserhoff

Posted: 2006-05-31

Good Afternoon. Minister Geoffrey Kelly, Assistant Deputy Minister Noel Burke, representatives of the Government, Chief Robert Kitchen, Chairman William Mianscum, all leaders present and to everyone who is gathered here today in the beautiful community of Waswanipi for the grand opening of the Sabtuaan Regional Vocational Training Centre. I am happy to be here today and I bring greetings and congratulations from Grand Chief Matthew Mukash as well.

I am pleased to be speaking here so I can share the ideas, thoughts and support of the executive office of the Grand Council about this new building. The Sabtuaan Regional Vocational Training centre is a clear marker of our success as a Nation. It represents the creation of more possibilities for our people, and shows that what we are doing is becoming a stronger and progressive nation.

Through the training centre, we are able to advance Eeyou Istchee and make our dreams and needs a reality. By designing programs such as those offered by the vocational training centre, we show that we are able to work with our people to fit the growing needs of our communities. This facility is a blend of education techniques and transitional programs. We appreciate the need to integrate these types of institutions in our education system. As this is a Cree institution in our territory, it allows us to develop at our own pace and in a place that is more effective to us. We are encouraged that it is located in the community of Waswanipi, as it lessens the hardships of homesickness and cultural differences city life can bring. It also increases the chances of our students successfully completing the studies, and the goals each person has set out for themselves.

This Regional Center has given us the opportunity to adjust to the change that has come to our Nation, and presents us with an important institution that can be of great benefit to us and allow us to grow at a rate we can determine together as a people. The center is an example that we are building a stronger economy in the Cree nation and improving the opportunities for all Eeyouch. This is how it should be.

I like that there is a well rounded variety of programs offered, touching on the different interests we may have in our Nation. It appreciates the value of diversity. We recognize that we need many aspects and areas for a stronger community and economy. But beyond all of these things, what matters is personal success. Being able to find what you are interested in and pursuing your dreams.

Recent agreements with governments have offered opportunities for development of different parts of our economy, and have led to the opportunities for Crees to choose from a more diverse selection of careers. The Sabtuaan Regional Vocational Training Centre can make this a reality. It will be a proud moment when we see our people be the certified carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, technicians and many other professional trades entering into the skilled workforces in our communities.

There is definitely an increased need for Cree skilled trades people in Eeyou Istchee.

The training programs at Sabtuaan Regional Vocational Training Center will provide the necessary knowledge, skills and aptitudes for the graduates to enter as an apprentice in the field of work chosen. After their time here, we will work to pair them with employers who will give them the practical experience to become journeypersons or certified trades people in our Nation.

"Making it work" I encourage the Cree Nation to fully participate in its efforts to increase our need for certified journeypersons, and encourage those interested that the support now exists to help them realize their dreams.

In closing, this facility is where we can come to feed our spirits and minds. It is a matter of balance that makes us successful and allows us to truly appreciate what we are capable of learning and what we can contribute to the lives of others. I would like to address each student that learns here, each member of the community of Waswanipi, and the Cree nation as a whole, to take pride in what this facility is and what it represents. It will be your hard work, understanding, and respect that helps this facility grow, and helps our nation develop right along side.

May God bless this community and the Cree Nation.