Edmonton, AB – Rural Alberta Development Fund Board of Directors has approved more than $1.6 million in funding to implement a unique economic social enterprise program aimed at helping Aboriginal youth address issues of chronic unemployment, insufficient housing, substance abuse and overall well-being. This project, Creating Home – Reclaiming the Self: A Holistic Journey to Community Wellness, is lead by the Blue Quills First Nations College (BQFNC), who are amongst leaders of Indigenous education.
"Creating healthy family environments by resolving the need for affordable housing will have a profound impact on the communities involved in this project," said Honourable Jack Hayden, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. "The Creating Home – Reclaiming the Self project will focus on addiction and healing while also meeting economic development, education, infrastructure and housing needs."
There are very few programs for First Nations people addressing both addiction and housing issues. Creating Home –Reclaiming the Self will provide business training and hands-on trades training to at-risk participants in constructing solid timber, log-frame modular homes combined with program support in maintaining an addiction-free lifestyle. The program curriculum will be delivered through classroom and experiential teachings grounded with an Indigenous approach to holistic healing.
While this project is being delivered through the BQFNC, it has strong support and collaboration from the College Board and its seven bands – Beaver Lake, Cold Lake, Frog Lake, Heart Lake, Kehewin, Saddle Lake and Whitefish Lake. Additional support comes from the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary through a longstanding partnership to research and develop community-based projects.
"The Creating Home – Reclaiming the Self project is multi-faceted in that it functions as a social enterprise to assist Aboriginal youth in learning trades and provides a practical, innovative approach to quality-of-life issues facing Aboriginal communities," said Jann Beeston, Chair of the Board of Directors, Rural Alberta Development Fund. "Creating these rural economic development training tools will allow for creating best practices for rural and First Nations economic development in the areas of housing and healing."
By providing a combination of work skills and life-skills training, Aboriginal communities will see increased employment opportunities and number of skilled trades people, solutions to a housing deficit, opportunities for graduates to establish spin-off businesses and become self-employed entrepreneurs and improved quality of life in the community as a whole. Funding from the Rural Alberta Development Fund will go towards staffing, marketing costs, professional development, safety training and evaluation costs. The project's expected completion date is December 31, 2013.
Rural Alberta Development Fund is a not-for-profit company that inspires innovation, collaboration and growth across rural Alberta. In 2007, it was capitalized with $100 million by the Government of Alberta as part of its Rural Development Strategy. So far, $84.3 million has been committed to 75 projects. Applications are now being accepted for the remaining funds, which must be committed by March 31, 2012.
For more information, contact:
Communications & Program Coordinator
Rural Alberta Development Fund
Dr. Patricia Makokis
Blue Quills First Nations College