Evidence of meeting #145 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was education.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lance Roulette  Sandy Bay First Nation
Virginia Lukianchuk  Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

For the specialized training you need for people who can do assessments and work with your community, what's the challenge? Is it that you don't have the ability to fund them to go and get that training?

10:10 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

Yes. We don't have the funding to send them somewhere. Plus, there's a lack of that training out there right now. Because there's such a huge need throughout the province, all of those spaces are full.

What we'd like to see is a relationship with the university or one of the colleges and for them to come to the community to do that education, because we know we can fill those seats with just our people. There's a huge need there. We prefer, as a community, to train our own people and to have them providing the services, because there's nothing.... You have more heart when you're doing your job if you're from that community and with your people. You have that ability to have that conversation in your own language instead of depending on somebody else to come in and provide that service.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I'm running out of time, so this is my last question. You talked about having a junior chief and council. I'm curious about what that group adds.

10:10 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

At the time that we had our inauguration, we felt that it was very important not only to involve the youth in some of the decision-making processes that we do as leadership, but also to prepare them for future leadership roles and for them to have that clarity on exactly how the process works within the local level.

We do engage our youth quite a bit. We have monthly athletic events with them. When we first thought of the notion, it was a great idea. Providing that clarity on what their roles are going to be once again lets us know what types of hindrances they are encountering within the school as well, or anywhere within the community, and ensures that the voice of youth is there. It's very important that our youth voices and our elder voices are there.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you. The questioning now moves to me.

I am very pleased to see you. Sandy Bay has a training facility. I had a small role in working with the chief on it. There is a nearby company called HyLife, which processes very high-quality pork products for Japan. They were actively searching for employees and actually were considering foreign workers.

The chief got involved, so maybe you can provide a short update on how that project is working. Do we see members going to Neepawa to work at HyLife? How is that working out?

10:10 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

On the meat cutting program, once again thank you for assisting in that and involving me in the dialogue. The Sandy Bay meat cutting program is a first nations training program that's quite unique in the sense of where we're located. It's one of the first. We have gone through seven cohorts. We've had a 96% success completion rate. They are currently expanding into the area of beef. We were able to form many partnerships for employment retention, for instance with HyLife, but also with northern companies that have hired quite a few of our people who have completed the program.

I'll use HyLife as an example. We transport our people who don't have a means of transportation and charge them a small fee for getting to and from work. We have two drivers who drive I believe it's about 12 people in each of these vans. It's been very successful. Some have also moved into Neepawa and have begun to become more self-sufficient, and their responsibilities are quite unique. Seeing how people became very self-aware after completing this program was sui generis.

I do recall a couple of people who kept themselves away from people. Seeing these people today, you would never know that they would seclude themselves. They're animated. They're engaging. It's quite heartwarming.

In terms of the future of the meat cutting course, we are definitely encountering barriers once again as a flow-through from Service Canada and ISC down to FPDI and then down to the first nation. FPDI has definitely taken upon itself to try to dictate to the community what the service model should be, which isn't the case.

As a result of it, we've been met with issues of flow-through monies down to the first nation, which should never be the case. But it is occurring. We are definitely trying to find another means. We have submitted some letters to Service Canada to once again engage in a direct relationship with them. We're hopeful that we will be successful within the next half year.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Sandy Bay First Nation is in an agricultural area. There's quite a bit of seasonal harvesting for strawberries and other fruits, and then later on for harvesting the potato crop.

Is there interest among your membership to work in that seasonal activity or is that something that your membership is not interested in? There is a perception perhaps by some that first nations maybe are not interested in that kind of work or maybe you're looking at other things.

10:15 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

We do have a number of members who go to work for cropping companies. Once again, the access at a local level is still yet to be determined, but the interest is there. Once again, there's the issue of being able to provide a foundation—“this is where we are right now, this is where we want to be and how do we get there”—especially in terms of a general understanding of what that process looks like.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

How many people would want to go and work in agriculture? I think when I was there, there were 100 people preparing to go for the potato harvest. Are there even more than that who would be interested?

10:15 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

There are probably a few more than that. I would probably estimate about 150 people. It could be a little bit more. Once again, there are a lot of contributing factors for people to steer away from that. One is location. For some people who don't have that experience off the reserve, sometimes it's a cultural shock for them to even leave the community.

To be able to provide that on-reserve training is always key, but also providing other supports to help them not only to further themselves, but also to be part of that process.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

The questions will now go to MP Mike Bossio.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

I know you wanted to say something, so please go ahead.

10:15 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

I was just going to mention that the seasonal work, like that in regard to potato harvesting, is in Portage la Prairie, but they had a huge influx of foreign workers. We don't really have that many people there anymore, because there are a lot of foreigners in Portage la Prairie now.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

I was really impressed, Virginia, when you said that 80% of your community speaks the Ojibwa language, which is phenomenal because we see so many communities that are losing their language. Would you say that's because you've had control of your education since the 1970s and you've got teachers from the community who are teaching the language and the culture?

10:15 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

Yes, I think that's part of it. I'm going to be frank here and let you know that the strongest language spoken in the community is in the families who did not attend residential schools and did not attend any school. That's where the language is strongest. In fact, that's their first language. They have to speak the language because they don't really understand the English language.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Is there continued language training in the school as well?

10:20 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

We want to strengthen it. Though the community members, teachers and staff are from the community and they speak the language, it's the children who might not speak it that much. We said we want to strengthen that and have some sort of a language class for the ones who don't understand.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

I was also really impressed that your teachers are from your own community. Once again, that is not something that you see in most communities. What contributed to that success? Is there a way to replicate that in other professions like nursing, personal support workers or any other professionals that you require in the community?

10:20 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

Yes. In the community, all our staff.... How many staff do we have? 400?

10:20 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

We have about 400.

April 11th, 2019 / 10:20 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

We have about 400 staff, and I would say 90% of those staff are from the community. They're professionals. They're certified. Our health centre is accredited. We're looking at accreditation for our other facilities as well. That all stemmed from the past, and we feel that there's strength in having our community members educated and providing those services within the community. It's really worked well for us. As we said, we're looking at having these larger-scale models and looking at the population health and not only providing services for our first nations members but also looking at the population....

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Has that been driven by having—

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Mike, I'm sorry. It's my fault. I used up a lot of your time. I really appreciate that.

It rightly needs to move to MP Kevin Waugh.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you both for being here.

I'm just looking at your post-secondary handbook. It hasn't been updated on your website; it's seven or eight years old. It says here on page 17 that you're supplying financial support. Are you still doing that? It can go up to $2,000 with support. A married student with dependent spouse gets $1,434, and all this. I am looking at the assistance category.

10:20 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

Yes, it's what they call the living allowance for students in urban areas. A single used to get $805. That was changed about two months ago, and increased to $1,050. That is still not up to par. The increase in cost of living really does impede single students who need to provide for themselves and keep themselves well fed.

There was additional funding that did come in. The increase to the cost-of-living allowance is still being looked at, for us to not only provide that further level of service but to ensure that they have the financial supports in place to help them be more focused on education.