Ditidaht Job Fair encourages employment in home community

Nitinaht Lake, BC

On Jan. 25, Ditidaht hosted a Health and Job Fair, organized by Grace Marshall and Esther Edgar, to showcase the employment available in the community, training and funding opportunities, as well as health services that are available.

At first Marshall wanted to bring in a dietician to teach the youth, who were taking a cooking class, about diabetes. But then she began thinking of the young adults in the community and jobs that are available to them.

Ditidaht has over 770 members, and almost 200 people live in the First Nation’s on-reserve village at Nitinaht Lake.

Since 2013 employment with the band has decreased by over half, said Marshall. At a recent meeting, Marshall counted less than 25 employees attending. This was what inspired her to include the job opportunities at the event. 

“There [were] a few of [the students] talking about the upcoming jobs in the community,” said Marshall.

“The spark is there, they just need to get pushed,” said Esther Edgar, a Community Services receptionist.

Some students at the high school were interested in a career in health care.

Ditidaht's administration table was filled with job postings, training and workshop opportunities, as well as post-secondary funding applications.

“I think it's important to make our members aware [of] what we have to offer, what is available, what type of applications we can help with, and the jobs from the departments,” said Karen Mack, Ditidaht’s administration office manager. “If [students] have a career goal, we can assist [and] direct them to NTC funding for post-secondary.”

In an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa, Mack shared that employment in the community is always available, but often specific training and qualifications are required.

For Mack, it’s important that members and students can see what the First Nation has to offer and it can help them get to the next steps.

“Our doors open to guide them,” said Mack.

Edgar and Marshall had only thought three or four organizations would table at the event, but 10 groups were in attendance, making the function much larger than they anticipated.

Among organizations in attendance were Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s (NTC) nurses, dietician, Child and Youth Services, and Teechuktl Mental Health, as well as the First Nations Health Authority’s Children’s Oral Health Initiative, Island Health, RCMP, and two private vendors.

Marshall and Edgar are already hoping to host another fair in the spring.

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