Economic Development Team

Issue: 19

Feb 16, 2024
STS19 Economic Dev960x540

Community Workforce Development Program, #BeTheDrum, and POETA: Three Pathways to Career Success

The Community Workforce Development Program is a pilot project funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and coordinated through NWAC’s Economic Development team. The program endeavours to reduce barriers to employment and provide training to address skills gaps and increase employability for Indigenous WG2STGD+ individuals living in communities with populations under 10,000 people.

To date, we have signed program contribution agreements with seven provincial and territorial member associations (PTMAs) from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

PTMAs in these regions have been the catalyst to developing partnerships with local organizations such as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and universities. This network between sectors is vital to its success. Individuals are granted access to training through their local PTMAs and are then provided placements for employment in SMEs that align with their newly obtained skill sets.

Program participants are guided through the process by a community liaison officer who helps them complete their training and place them in jobs. This hands-on contact provides participants with the support they need to enter the workforce and succeed.

In December, we hosted the first of three roundtables focused on Indigenous communities in the western region of the country. The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss the current labour market situation for W2STGD+ individuals in the region and build stronger connections and understanding between employment sectors.

The roundtable discussion was attended by PTMA representatives from the Women of the Swift Flowing River Cultural Network Incorporated (WSFR-CNI) in Saskatchewan and the Alberta Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women.

Attendees also included a representative from the Neyaskweyahk Group of Companies Inc. and from Ermineskin Cree Nation. Presentations were delivered by academics from the University of Victoria, Lethbridge University, and Simon Fraser University.

In the coming months we will host two more roundtables with a focus on the northern and eastern regions.

The information gathered from these roundtables, along with the job placement experiences of participants and extensive research conducted by NWAC, will be included in a national workforce strategy, which will be completed once the program ends. We hope that through this program we can cultivate economic resiliency and address the unique challenges and barriers to employment for Indigenous communities.


Ten out of 12 PTMAs have signed the memorandum of understanding with NWAC to share information and resources on entrepreneurship in their regions as well as to help promote entrepreneurship. PTMAs will receive approximately $21,000 per year (for two years) to help support this initiative.

BTD hosted and facilitated two online workshops, two online networking events, and three online peer support circles in January 2024.

Patricia Newman of White Owl Unique Crafts presented on the many uses of land-based medicine, sharing how to discover, harvest, and use many land-based medicines in our environment. Sixty people attended the online workshop. Kassondra Walters, a social entrepreneur and founder of KD Management and Consulting, gave an empowering workshop on tips to elevate a business, with a focus on strategic marketing, effective financial management, leadership proficiency, establishing a robust digital presence, and adapting sustainable business practices. A total of 25 participants attended the online workshop. Waneek Horn-Miller, from Indigenous Financial Services, co-facilitated with BTD on the virtual networking events, helping entrepreneurs make new community connections, explore peer mentorship opportunities, and develop professionally as entrepreneurs.

BTD has selected and highlighted 10 entrepreneurs of the month from April 2023 to January 2024.


In January 2024, 37 individuals successfully graduated from POETA Cohort 1. Their success showcases the impact of the POETA program on fostering essential digital skills. In preparation for Cohort II, we are gearing up for a major communication campaign in February. Through a collaboration with NWAC’s Communications team, we have created engaging posters aimed at increasing awareness and participation in POETA. The most exciting news is that registrations for the second cohort are now open!

Scheduled to start March 4, the second cohort presents an excellent opportunity for individuals to develop their digital skills. Our goal is ambitious yet achievable—to recruit between 100 and 150 participants for this upcoming cohort. By doing so, we hope to further expand the reach and impact of this program, empowering even more individuals with valuable digital skills.