Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

Literacy, essential skills project for First Nations (10/04/07)

NB 493

April 7, 2010

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The federal and provincial governments are investing about $1.2 million in a project to help Aboriginal adults with low literacy skills.



The announcement was made by Human Resources Minister Rick Brewer, who is also the minister responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat; and Keith Ashfield, minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

"Workplace Essential Skills (WES) training for adult learners and employers alike provides an accelerated pathway to skills improvement," said Brewer. "Training in essential skills will help us as a province to increase labour force participation, address labour market needs and improve adult literacy levels."

The provincial government is contributing close to $300,000 through the Training and Skills Development program. This funding will provide training support to individuals participating in the project. In addition, the provincial government is contributing the WES curriculum.

"One of the substantial outcomes of the current partnership between New Brunswick Aboriginal Workplace Essential Skills and the department will be a culturally relevant WES curriculum, available for all First Nations communities in the province," said Brewer. "This partnership is another example of how we are providing New Brunswickers the best opportunities to learn while helping to address the literacy challenges we are facing in our province."

Brewer was speaking on behalf of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault.

"Our government believes that working with partners to improve literacy and essential skills is the best way to help adult Canadians get jobs and build better futures," said Ashfield. "In today's economic environment, it is more important than ever that Aboriginal people have the skills they need to participate in the job market."

The Joint Economic Development Initiative will receive $936,300 for its New Brunswick Aboriginal WES project through the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program. Based on the existing WES curriculum, this project will adapt the program to the needs of Aboriginal adult learners. Once the program and learning tools are developed, they will be tested and adapted through pilot projects to increase the literacy and essential skills of on- and off-reserve Aboriginal adult learners in the Maliseet and the Mi'kmaq communities.

"Working with the federal and provincial governments to improve the literacy rates of the on- and off-reserve Aboriginal adults in New Brunswick will stimulate economic development in our communities," said Alex Dedam, president of the Joint Economic Development Initiative. "The Aboriginal population is the fastest growing in Canada, and we are the workforce of tomorrow. Proactive investments are needed, and I am proud that this spirit of collaboration continues."


MEDIA CONTACTS: Lori-Jean Johnson, communications, Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, 506-453-2039; Michelle Bakos, press secretary, Office of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 819-994-2482.