First-in-Canada Digital-Skills Program Launched By NWAC, OAS & Trust for Americas Is First Step Toward Indigenous Economic Resiliency, Reconciliation

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Gaining a Competitive Advantage Through Digital Transformation

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) joined the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Trust for the Americas in announcing the Canadian launch of an outstanding digital-skills training initiative for Indigenous Peoples.

The launch event took place today, two days before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

The announcement of the new POETA (Partnerships for Economic Opportunities through Technology in the Americas) Digispark Canada Project will respond to the economic marginalization of Indigenous Peoples in this country. It responds to the Calls for Justice identified by the Final Report of the National Inquiry’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It is concrete action. The program will contribute to economic reconciliation and resilience and is designed to empower Indigenous Peoples with skills in the high-demand technology and digital-services industries. Canada’s federal government estimates it will soon have 8,000 vacancies in this sector.

NWAC Chief Executive Officer, Lynne Groulx virtually joined the Trust for the Americas and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS). In referring to this gap in economic prosperity, Groulx stated that “[O]nly 2.2% of workers in the tech workforce are Indigenous. This is unacceptable. We need to urgently fill in this gap. We need to take concrete action such as this project to end economic marginalization.”

In a powerful statement from Washington, D. C, the Secretary General, Louis Almagro, spoke about the impact of residential schools and truth and reconciliation. He mentioned how this program will empower Indigenous Peoples and contribute to Indigenous skills training. “I see how this project targets critical issues that affect Indigenous Peoples in the hemisphere. The success of the project should become an example of how to achieve inclusive, sustainable, social and economic development with Indigenous communities and the region as a whole.”

“This is a program that promotes lifelong learning and economic opportunities for Indigenous People by providing access to quality, targeted, and culturally appropriate mentorship, skills training, and collaboration spaces,” said Linda Eddleman, Chief Executive Officer of the Trust.

To concreate the plan, The Trust for the Americas and NWAC have signed a memorandum of understanding that would see the Trust and NWAC partner together to pilot the program, including training in digital literacy and computer competence, those who take part will learn life skills necessary for the workplace.

The program will be offered out of NWAC’s new Social, Cultural, and Economic Innovation Centre in Gatineau, Que., which the Trust referred to as a healing space. The program will also be offered remotely to permit those living outside the National Capital Region to take part.

“This is a historic day in advancing digital and economic equity for reconciliation.” said Groulx.