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Community ᐄᐦᑖᐧᐃᓐ

New adult education facility in Mistissini to open this spring

BY Juliette Danger Feb 28, 2020

A new hub for adult education and skills development is set to open in Mistissini this spring. Now under construction, the Mistissini Learning Centre will serve as a state-of-the-art facility for adult education and capacity-building programming.

The newest addition to educational resources in Eeyou Istchee, the centre has been four years and $12.5 million in the making.

“Not only is it a brand-new facility, but the centre will serve as a positive learning community for students,” Nian Matoush, Director of Adult Education at the Cree School Board told the Nation. “It will be an environment where students will feel supported not just in their education, but in all aspects of their lives.”

The centre will offer classes and programs that will allow Mistissini community members to fulfill the prerequisites for post-secondary programs, as well as to develop skills in a variety of industries. Some of this training will be for jobs in sectors such as public administration, governance, health, tourism and forestry.

“Currently, adult education services share facilities with the local high school, and that lack of space has a huge impact on the type of programs we can offer,” said Matoush. “The new centre will correct that issue and give us greater flexibility in terms of scheduling and the diversity of services and vocational programs we can offer.”

The Cree School Board has ambitious goals for the Mistissini Learning Centre. It has based its future programming on a rigorous data collection initiative that provides detailed insights into the actual needs of the community members. The data was collected from the Adult Learning Needs Assessment, a large-scale survey that was conducted throughout Eeyou Istchee.

The survey produced findings on the needs and desires of community members in relation to adult educational programming and support, in addition to other factors that play into this, such as job interest, family life and personal motivation.

“Historically we’ve defined the training we’ve offered by requests. Now, we want to provide opportunities based on the actual needs of the people,” Matoush explained. “We’re able to use this data to see what the success factors are, which informs the programs we offer. This allows us to come up with a community-specific adult education plan and strategy that will be effective for the people we serve.”

The centre is also approaching its programming in a way that anticipates the future needs of the community.

“Our population is getting younger. We need to make sure there is a clear pathway from the youth sector to the adult sector, as well as to post-secondary opportunities,” Matoush said.

“We will start by offering our in-demand programs, which we have built our expertise around. Once we get everything running smoothly, we will diversify the programs to include those we’ve established as being needs through the data we’ve collected.”

The Cree School Board is already making efforts to bolster community involvement and will be hosting a recruitment event on March 5.

“We want community members to work at the centre and to be a part of the environment that the centre will create,” Matoush emphasized.

The event will offer free food, workshops and a peek inside the new facilities. It will also include a resume workshop to help participants searching for employment. 

“Capacity building is more than just training for a job,” Matoush concluded. “It’s about creating a learning community, where people can develop skills, work towards a diploma, and access the resources they need to succeed in all aspects of their lives.”

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Juliette Danger is a writer and media-creator living in Montreal.  She studied communications at Concordia University and currently works as a Marketing Director at an Indigenous communications agency.