The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Trust for the Americas launched a new program to provide hundreds of Indigenous people with digital skills required for high-demand jobs in the tech industry.
The Empowering Indigenous Peoples through Digital Skills Project, which was unveiled during the week of the OAS General Assembly in Washington, D.C., aims to enhance the livelihoods and opportunities of Indigenous People in communities across Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta.
“With a mere 2.2 per cent of Indigenous workers in the tech workforce, it is well beyond time to step up and fill in this unacceptable gap,” said NWAC Executive Director Lynne Groulx. “Ending economic marginalization stands a fighting chance with concrete actions such as this digital skills project.”
The project will be supported with combined financial and in-kind contributions from Microsoft Philanthropies, NWAC, and the Trust for the Americas. It will begin in October 2023, with the first participants expected to graduate in December of this year.
Through a combination of on-site and online training in digital and life skills, the project will create digital equity for Indigenous people and will open the doors to high-paid jobs that will support both families and communities. The project’s activities will be grounded in cultural awareness and respect.
Three hundred and fifty Indigenous people, aged 16 and over, will be trained in digital and life skills. They will learn project management, data content management, digital and financial literacy, entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, and workforce readiness.
In addition, 50 facilitators, community leaders, and elders will be taught how to replicate the training within their communities. By empowering these local leaders, the project aims to create a sustainable ripple effect of skill development and knowledge transfer. The program will assist the participants as they search for employment opportunities, and will support the development of entrepreneurship and businesses within the Indigenous communities.
“We are honoured to be partnering with NWAC for the first time and continue our work with Microsoft with whom we have worked in over 20 countries over the past two decades,” said Linda Eddleman, CEO, The Trust for the Americas. “This will be our first project in Canada and we could not have wished for better partners in NWAC and Microsoft. Along with the OAS, we look forward to bringing digital, entrepreneur and life skills to the Indigenous peoples in Canada and throughout the Americas.”
The NWAC is a national Indigenous organization representing the political voice of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, two-spirit, and gender-diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations on and off reserve, status and non-status, disenfranchised, Métis and Inuit.
An aggregate of Indigenous women’s organizations from across the country, NWAC was founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women within their respective communities and Canadian societies.