With 4,872 residents, Chisasibi is the most populous community in the Cree Nation. It is a youthful and dynamic community, with sixty-two percent (62%) of members under the age of 35.
There are many opportunities and needs currently facing the community of Chisasisibi: a growing population, a new Regional Health Centre, aspirations to offer CEGEP-level programming, and much more.
The people of Chisasibi understand the importance of adult education and training in their community, as demonstrated by their tremendous support of the Adult Learning Needs Assessment – in fact, nearly-third of the community's young adults (aged 15-45) participated in our surveys. We are excited to see the enthusiasm this community has for continuing education, and we truly look forward to sharing, analyzing, and responding to this data as we move forward together.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment surveyed 449 Chisasibi Eeyouch.
Most of those surveyed (403 participants) were aged 15-45.
32 community members and 10 employers also participated in qualitative interviews.
This sample size provides us with a confidence interval of 95% and a margin of error of 4.4%, making the ALNA a very reliable source of data on Chisasibi community members.
Almost all community members who took our surveys (99%) agreed with the statement “Education is important.” Family support for education is also on the rise in Chisasibi: 78% of 15-20 year olds say their parent(s) encouraged them to graduate, compared to less than half of 36 to 45 year olds.
Most prospective adult education students in Chisasibi are parents – 81% of people aged 26 to 30 have at least one child, with 76% having two or more of children in their household. Being a parent can greatly impact adult learners’ schedules, motivations, and interests. It is important that we give parents the opportunity to pursue their education while fulfilling their responsibilities at home.
In Chisasibi, the top programs of interest were Cree Traditional Knowledge & Skills, Cree Culture and History, and Cree Language. In their interviews, community members also shared that being close to their culture was one of the main reasons they wished to live and go to school in the community.
Twenty-six percent (26%) of Chisasibi respondents would no longer be interested in a program if it was not offered in the community, as compared to 23%, on average, for the other communities. This factor was most important for people in the 31-35 age group, with only 8% of them willing to live in another community to pursue their education.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment demonstrates that employer needs and community interests are deeply intertwined. In Chisasibi, many community members are interested in training for careers where they can contribute to their community, including nursing, administration, education, and construction. These results will be considered when selecting programs for the community of Chisasibi.
In Chisasibi, the majority of adults have at least one type of diploma. However, the rate of diploma completion varies by gender. Those who identified as female were significantly less likely to have completed a diploma (47% of females do not have a diploma, compared to 34% of males). Nearly half of female students who interrupted their studies (46%) said pregnancy was a significant factor, making family life an important consideration for Sabtuan Adult Education Services.
Interest in adult education is high in Chisasibi, with 85% of adults saying they would be interested in going back to school. Even those who already had a diploma showed interest in pursuing further education: 45% of adults with a College degree or certificate say they would like to pursue further post-secondary studies.
A lack of local educational programming was a frequent concern shared by members of this community. This is particularly important in Chisasibi, as 26% of individuals say they would not be interested in pursuing education if they had to leave the community. In addition, employers that offer training in-community noted ongoing issues with attendance and retention. To respond to these challenges head-on, Sabtuan Adult Education Services will need to collaborate closely with community members, entities, and leaders to offer programs/services that keep people motivated, engaged, and moving forward towards their goals.
Through our interviews and follow-up questions, we were able to identify success factors which impact current and prospective students in Chisasibi. Understanding these factors will help us to set up services and supports that help adults achieve their educational goals.
We also found out community members’ program interests, and discovered how these interests aligned with community/employer needs (by reviewing CENA results from Apatisiiwin Skills Development and interviewing employers). This will help us select and offer programs that will support the community’s future.
It is important to note that any strategy we build must have a strong cultural foundation and a plan for continuous community collaboration.
In their ALNA interviews, Chisasibi community members often discussed the importance of culture and language in their lives. Cree-centric teaching and learning was an important success factor for students in this community:
The reason I came home was for my Cree. I was losing a lot of it and I was kind of embarrassed. So, I told my parents that I wanted to come home, finish my high school there, and they were like ‘Okay!’ It was really cool being back. I liked being able to go back into Cree culture, Cree language classes. It actually really helped.
At Sabtuan, the name itself is Cree. It’s like a building where you gather people and it’s more welcoming in that sense. Where anyone who is Cree or identifies as Cree can just go there and gather with people that share the same values and all that.
Unsurprisingly, the top three programs of interest in Chisasibi were also related to Cree culture.
This success factor tells us that adult students are eager to take programs and courses that centre on Cree language, values, skills, and history. It also shows us the importance of making sure all programs and services are rooted in Cree culture and worldview. By honouring and reflecting who our students are as Crees, we can help them grow their identity and become all that they can be.
It’s your turn! How can you help adult learners build their cultural knowledge and identity?
Chisasibi is a community with many young families. This greatly impacts the educational journey for adults. Parents often need a high level of motivation and support to balance their responsibilities at home with schoolwork. Access to local programs is also particularly important to parents with young children:
Two of my kids are in school, two of them are in daycare. So, when I’m done, I get home and do some schoolwork and then I get them ready for supper, clean up, put them to bed, then continue my work.
Why I didn’t go to the program in Waswanipi, the culinary arts program? The distance from my family. It would be too long for the kids especially for me to be out of town that long.
I went to Sabtuan for a brighter future for myself and for my son. I can get anywhere with a diploma.
[I am motivated by] my kids. To set an example. I want them to have a bright future. Like I can pave the world for them. And show them how much I’ve accomplished and they can do the same thing.
My mom supported me. I took advice from her. She went to school at Adult Ed too.
My dad was the only one who usually woke me up every morning. He would pick me up in the morning, pick me up from school. Told me to work hard and never give up.
Both my parents never finished high school so they were both really pushing me to go. Every day they’d wake me up and drive me to school and I’d walk home after school. But it was like every morning my mom would wake me up. It was really nice of her. She didn’t get her diploma, so she made sure that all of us would get our diplomas at least.
My uncle. His words always stuck with me. ‘At least get that out of the way’ he would always tell me. ‘At least finish high school then you’ll know what you want to do after. You’ll see your friends quitting, don’t follow them.’
It’s your turn! How can you help students in your family feel supported and encouraged?
When we asked successful students what made a difference in their educational journey, they pointed to support systems, programs, and people that kept them motivated and focused.
In addition to family support, those who had experienced educational success credited special programs and encouragement from teachers as key success factors:
Part of my motivation to stay in high school was that you had to go to school to play hockey too. I liked playing hockey, so I stayed in school.
What I appreciated the most about Sabtuan was the teachers. They were always available and even after class. I would stay and talk to them even though they all had their own lives after. It was like evening classes too. So I guess they were supportive in that way. Other than just being there to teach, get paid and then go home. It showed that they really cared.
My friends and co-workers. Just by writing me messages you know. ‘Keep doing hard work and keep focusing and don’t give up’, that type of message. Sometimes one of them visited when he could; that was nice.
In my vocational program, we helped each other. So, if some of us were done with one book, we helped the others that were still reading it. And on my side, I needed help with my French and my classmate helped me.
It’s your turn! How can the community further support adult students?
Financial considerations are a major factor in many peoples’ decisions to go back to school. In Chisasibi, 91% of community members without a diploma say they would consider going back to school. Getting a better job/future is one of the main motivations for returning to school:
I wanted to go back to school to get a career. I was working 2 jobs before starting my vocational program. I cannot be a substitute forever; I need a career.
I cannot go back to school; I need a job to feed myself and buy stuff for the household and it’s kind of hard to find work. Usually I only find work like after 9 to 5.
I heard that, in Sabtuan they get sponsored, so I went back to school here, in Chisasibi. Because, people here get paid to go to school. It’s like an extra motivation!
It’s your turn! What else could help eliminate financial barriers to education in Chisasibi?
When asked which programs most interested them, we found community members drawn first to culturally relevant programs. This was encouraging to see, as strengthening Cree culture and language programming is a significant priority for Sabtuan Adult Education Services at this time. In the coming years, we aim to offer more culture/language programs, as well as increasing the cultural relevance of all our programs.
Starting a Business also interested many respondents, which shows an interest in entrepreneurship in this community. We can respond to this interest by not only offering this program, but by helping to connect all vocational students with information about self-employment.
The remaining program selections aligned very much with the jobs employers shared with in most demand. This is not surprising - community members are aware of the types of jobs available in the community, and often gravitate to fields where they know there is a great deal of opportunity. It is encouraging to see that there are several programs that both interest community members and meet these community needs.
Diversity of programs was another issue mentioned in our interviews. Community members shared an interest in exploring new programs, rather than the standard offering from the last several years.
What do I think about the program selection? Well I think it’s always the same thing. It is always carpentry, secretarial studies, um… I would like to take something more medical.
By combining community member data, information from Apatisiiwin Skills Developments’ CENA study, we were able to identify the highest-demand programs in Chisasibi at present. This list of programs is by no means comprehensive, nor is it an official list of programs we are committed to offering. Other considerations, like feasibility of offering the program locally and the cultural component, will also be considered.
The Adult Learning Needs Assessment considered data from Apatisiiwin Skills Development (ASD)’s Community Employment Needs Assessment (CENA) in its program analysis. We also interviewed employers to follow up on the data. If you would like further information on the employment outlook in Chisasibi, please contact ASD.
Employers and community members also mentioned several other skills which adult education could impart. These may or may not be part of a formal diploma program:
Employers noted that, in addition to local training opportunities, finding the time to train employees is another significant challenge.
There’s educational leave and it has a period of time you’re allowed to go to school. Your seniority is always considered. I think it’s the smallest way to support your employees that want to continue their education. If they return, they return to you, then good. If you want to go somewhere else, that’s okay.
Chisasibi adults had a fairly strong preference to remain in their community for school, with 26% of people saying they would not consider a program in another community. Proximity to home mattered most to adults in their 30s, likely due to the high percentage of these community members with school-aged children.
It would make a huge difference if the program was offered in the community. Because I wouldn’t have to leave. My family and the community would really help me if I had evening sessions. Like I could do that while I’m working as well, so… if it was offered, I would be the first one to sign up (laugh).
Fortunately, another way to provide education is through technology. If the program of interest was not offered in their community, 68% of respondents would be open to taking a course online.
More information on program delivery can be found in the Community Education Profile.
Note: ALNA data was collected before the COVID-19 pandemic. Online learning readiness may have been impacted by recent events.
To best serve your community, Sabtuan Adult Education Services needs to fully understand your experiences, clarify your needs, and make decisions informed by your reality.
That is what the Adult Learning Needs Assessment is all about. The data collected through this initiative will help us make decisions and offer programs/services that truly reflect the goals and interests of community members. This information will be considered in all aspects of our growth and decision-making:
ALNA data will be used to select the local programs which will have the greatest impact.
The ALNA will not only influence what we teach, but how we teach it. Understanding student preferences and values will help us build a more responsive, culturally relevant adult education system.
With a stronger understanding of student motivations and student success factors, we can put measures in place to better support adult students.
The ALNA data gives us insight into which partnerships and community relations approaches will help us to best serve and connect with the community on an ongoing basis.
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