Models of Success – In Remote Communities – Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board, OntarioModels of Success – In Remote Communities – Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board, Ontario


The Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board (SLAAMB) is an ASET/AHRDA holder working with 25 remote First Nation communities in the Sioux Lookout district in Ontario. This Board was established in 1991 to address the employment and training needs of First Nations. The communities that this ASET holder works with are primarily considered remote and isolated in geographic location. SLAAMB has had some success in the delivery of a new training project for apprenticeship in the trades under the Centre for Aboriginal Apprenticeship Research (CAAR) project. This project is funded through HRSDC. The three-year pilot project aimed to investigate new ways to increase the participation of First Nation communities from remote locations in construction employment. A number of initiatives have been tested and found viable to increase the numbers of Aboriginal people either employed directly in the construction field or entering into apprenticeship training. The program has helped to assist in developing stronger relationships and partnerships between the ASET/AHRDA holders, labour groups and construction employers in the planning of and access to construction employment opportunities available to skilled Aboriginal candidates.

The CAAR project was delivered in five segments: (1) GED through the Internet; (2) pre-apprenticeship training; (3) the Certification of Qualification Challenge Program; (4) Employment/Referral Hall; and (5) Capacity building: local/regional development. The partners were brought together to respond to the need for upgrading, skills training, assessment and referral, community support and referral from remote communities.



Confederation College

Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

Sioux Lookout Area Chiefs

Local area Tribal Councils (3)

Ontario’s Job Connect

Local Health Centre Construction Project Manager

Trades Union Representative

Ontario’s Literacy Group Representative

The program was designed with the support of partners such as Confederation College; the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Sioux Lookout Area Chiefs; Tribal Councils; and others as required. The curriculum was designed by accredited instructors according to the discipline their area detailed (electrical, math, carpentry, English, etc.). Program lengths varied and were adjusted from four weeks to 22 weeks. The program went through continuous evaluation and adjustment to respond to challenges and opportunities. This allowed for each new segment to test new approaches and see results instead of waiting until the end of the program.

Agreements and referral processes were reached with all of the local unions to support the hiring of skilled Aboriginal candidates. A northern Ontario committee has been formed to continue the planning, development and training of Aboriginal workers for potential construction opportunities in the geographic area.

Overall, from the project’s evaluation report , 95 Aboriginal people gained employment from the CAAR initiatives – 48 were employed in construction and others in various other occupations. The average age of workers was 35 to 45 years. The CAAR project helped to encourage and establish new partnerships and training opportunities with the local health centre, in training language interpreters and developing a commercial pilot’s licence training program in partnership with Wasaya Air.

Why This Model Works

The CAAR project model worked in part because it was sponsored by SLAAMB. This leadership brought together the key stakeholders to design a program appropriate for and responsive to the needs of those living in remote communities. A number of issues were taken into account when designing the program. These issues include housing for the candidates and cross-cultural training from both an Aboriginal and an industry perspective.

In the delivery of the program activities, management monitored closely the implementation of program delivery. This approach allowed for a continual modification to respond to challenges and opportunities. It also assisted with the final evaluation documentation and analysis of the project. The project had a third-party evaluator do an extensive evaluation; detailed summary results can be found on the SLAAMB website.

The program activities included orientation and education on cross-cultural issues from both an industry and an Aboriginal perspective with a number of employers and candidates. The candidates received detailed information on what was expected on the job sites, and what to expect in terms of work ethic and working conditions. Since many of the job candidates had not had to pay income tax with employment on reserve, they were given an overview of and education on income tax and payments that will be deducted from their cheques. The employers were provided with a cultural awareness session in order to have a better understanding of First Nations people.

The project has produced some of the following teaching tools to support the learning of candidates:

  • Learning materials. CAAR and the College developed a range of teaching aids beyond the curriculum materials.
  • Video library -- CAAR now has four hours of video on tools and procedures, with two hours more to come. This is a general useful teaching tool, but was especially designed to address deficiencies in English required for the trades.
  • College instructors developed their own tests for Pre-Apprenticeship courses, and have compiled a collection of their own and Alberta Red Seal test bank questions. These have been valuable in preparing learners for the Certificate of Qualifications.
  • A set of enhanced Power Point teaching slides -- these include the slides, text, videos, animation, and a "Jeopardy" style test to pass before moving on; perhaps audio commentary will be added in the future.
  • The Phraselater is just about to be released and tested. This device will allow users to get translation from Ojibway/OjiCree to English and vice-versa. The content will be focused or trades names and terminology.

Challenges to Work On

Some challenges to work on are the following:

  • Lack of education of candidates especially in math and English – there is a need to extend training time to allow for successful GED and Certification of Qualification testing.
  • Lack of access, opportunity or experience in commercial and industrial carpentry and electrical when coming from remote communities.
  • Difficulties with candidates wanting to leave their homes to go to job sites or training, and dealing with the cultural shock of the city and jobsites.
  • Accommodation for candidates in training and/or on job sites.
  • Recruiting Aboriginal women as candidates.
  • Education and information to job candidates who will pay taxes off reserve while on the job site.