Reports and Publications
About the A.I.M.S. Essential Skills and Job Readiness Pilot Program
[M’Chigeeng, ON] – “Just be patient - if it is to be, it will be.” These were the kind and soft-spoken words of encouragement said many times to KTEI staff by Elder in Residence Gloria Oshkabewisens-McGregor during, what seemed to be, a never ending and lengthy project approval waiting period.
Gloria was right of course. Patience and good intention does not often go unrewarded. In March 2012, KTEI’s hopes and dreams were finally answered when Human Resources and Skills Development Canada officially announced that they were in fact approving an exciting new pilot program called the "Anishinabek Identity Mind and Spirit (A.I.M.S.) Essential Skills and Job Readiness Program”. So what exactly is the A.I.M.S. program?
Beverley Roy-Carter, KTEI’s Director of Business and Training, describes it this way: “This program’s theory of change is simply this: if skills development programs for Aboriginal adults who have been unsuccessful in the current educational system (those without a Grade 12 diploma) can be designed using a multidisciplinary approach and a multidimensional learning approach, this will in fact create new and successful access points to the labour markets and to post-secondary education – thereby contributing to the reduction of unemployment and its related social challenges”.
This includes, as it foundational platform, holistic and blended disciplines approach to learning, enabling students to be more readily equipped to successfully pursue their goals. KTEI's Executive Director, Stephanie Roy, agrees as well. “In my experience, too often, and perhaps unintentionally, academic and essential skills development programs tend to forget about the personal development, self-esteem and personal resiliency skills that students so often need to succeed in the world.”
Since August 2012, the newly recruited A.I.M.S. project team members have been busily brainstorming on various program delivery models, curriculum development, course outlines, lesson plans, class schedules, and the many, many logistics that must be planned in order to deliver a new program. The program has taken six intakes of students, with the last cohort of students now completing their program.
The first and critical part of the A.I.M.S. program focused upon nurturing the inner spirit, sense of identity and belonging of each and every one of the students. By creating a solid foundation within a supportive learning environment, and with newfound personal direction and confidence, students will then be better prepared for the mechanics of academic learning. For the A.I.M.S. program, as part of skills development, a key outcome for students is the completion of a Grade 12 equivalency such as the GED (or the Academic Career and Entrance Program when simultaneously offered by KTEI) for those who seek to achieve this goal.
And last but not least, the greatest symbolic opportunity that the new pilot project A.I.M.S. program represents is the opportunity for KTEI to develop and create its own standards in student learning certification. Certainly, awarding 100 Certificates to graduates in Anishinabek Essential Skills and Job Readiness from Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute will indeed become a new symbol of accomplishment and pride.
Students in the Spotlight...
Hi! My name is Dante, AIMS student AND GED Graduate as well!
I've always regretted not getting my high school diploma, but, in order to get a high school diploma, you
must actually attend high school!! It also involves hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, and sacrifice. Having a strong support team is important as well; something that I felt was missing and ultimately caused me to rebel against the system.
As the story goes, I lost focus early on; grade seven to be precise. I had pretty much given up on learning, and with very little guidance to help me get back on track, I decided that maybe, school wasn't for me. Instead, I thought that going west at the age of sixteen to work on the oil rigs was a better fit. I'd make lots of money and I'd be set for life. I wouldn't have to worry about my education. However, when that didn't pan out, I found myself going from job to dead-end job, all the while feeling I was going down the wrong path. Something was missing. I was at "the crossroads." I needed to re-evaluate my life without an education.
The turning point in my life came about on a day like any other day. I was dropping a student off at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, which, at the time, was hosting a new program through KTEI which was dubbed "The AIMS Program." At the time, I really had no idea what the program was all about, but with time on my hands, I felt that I should at least investigate what was being offered. The moment I walked through the door I felt a real sense of belonging. I felt that I had just arrived home. The staff gave me such a warm welcome! All around me were the smiling faces of others, like myself, who were also looking to find their way. At that moment, I decided that this was the program for me.
I followed through with the AIMS program and was feeling really good about myself and my accomplishments.
Once the program ended I jumped into another course. It wasn't really a fit but I felt I could build up a skill set for future employment. It wasn't long before I fell into my old pattern of giving up and making excuses. I quit that course before I finished it, leaving me at another crossroads. I said to myself, "Now where do I go?" Then one day, as I was driving past KTEI on my bus run to Lakeview School, I noticed a message board that advertised, "Get Your GED in 6 Weeks!" After dropping off the students, I came back to look into it further. I came out a registered GED
I have to admit that at first I found the course a bit overwhelming as it was a short time to cover so much material. I hadn't touched a workload like that since 1979 and some of it I hadn't even seen before! I wanted to quit. It was what I did. It was what I learned to do early on. I didn't believe in myself. But, what made all the difference was that the elders, the staff, and my fellow students believed in me. They said, "You can do it! Don't quit!" Thankfully, KTEI is an institution that wants to see you succeed and the staff will do everything in their power to make sure you have all the tools required to help you find success in whatever field you choose to pursue.
At this point, I am one step away from my goal of obtaining my GED! What has this journey taught me that I can share with you? Don’t give up; the beginning is always the hardest! You have to focus! If you can conceive in your mind what you want to achieve, all you have to do is believe in yourself, and that really is the key to achieving success. Of course, there is a certain amount of fear involved. Now, how do we conquer that fear? Well, I found
the answer to that on Facebook. Fear has two meanings: "Forget Everything And Run!" or "Face Everything And Rise!"
Now, the choice is really up to you! If ever there was a time to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, NOW is certainly that time! Don’t hesitate…your future awaits!
Good luck in your journey!