An educational program once operated through the Edmonton-based Metis Child and Family Services is back on track thanks to the diligent efforts of the Riel Institute for Education and Learning, a branch society of Zone 1V of the Metis Nation of Alberta.
The family intervention/ youth support training program, offered from 1993 to 1998, now falls under the social work program at Edmonton's NorQuest College, explained Joan Tornberg, executive director of the initiative. The program represents a partnership arrangement between the Metis Nation and the college.
The certificate program, which offers training that incorporates traditional cultural values and activities, is specifically designed to meet the needs of the Aboriginal child and family and is offered as an introduction to the social work field.
The previous program witnessed many of its graduates going on to earn social work degrees and to work in Native communities or services.
A major shift in the new version of the program is the extension from 35 to 52 weeks. In so doing, the Riel Institute added four additional courses that would better the opportunities for graduates to secure employment.
Understandably, a good background in English is important as a prerequisite to the program. As students move along in their studies, they will do a practicum between July and October at a local business, the Native Friendship Centre, with special needs groups or at community agencies or schools.
Upon completion of the program, the students become paraprofessionals in the social work field or related services.
Applicants are required to have Grade 10 and be 18 years of age or older. The first round of the program begins March 19 and students should contact their nearest employment or education centre as soon as possible as the application deadline is Feb. 16.
"Funding is possible through Human Resource centres of the Metis Nation or settlements, and via First Nation education services," said Tornberg.