ᑖᓐ ᑳ ᐄᔑ ᒥᔅᑯᐧᐋᐦᑖᑲᓅᐦᒡ ᐆᒉᐳᑯᒨ

ALNA Report - Oujé-Bougoumou

Oujé-Bougoumou is a small, tight-knit inland community. Community members have resided in the current location since 1992, after moving from their former village due to mining development.

While all communities in Eeyou Istchee have a younger population than the rest of Quebec, Oujé-Bougoumou has a particularly large number of youth, with 67% of the population below the age of 35. To best serve this community, Sabtuan Adult Education Services must understand the needs, interests, and values of Oujé-Bougoumou youth.

We are grateful to everyone who completed our Adult Learning Needs Assessment surveys in Oujé-Bougoumou. We look forward to using the results to develop a local strategy that better serves the need of this growing community.

The Adult Learning Needs Assessment surveyed 210 Oujé-Bougoumou Eenouch.

Most of those surveyed (144 participants) were aged 15-45.

15 community members and 4 employers also participated in qualitative interviews.

This sample size provides us with a confidence interval of 95% and a margin of error of 6.24%, making the ALNA a very reliable source of data on Oujé-Bougoumou community members.

Key Takeaways

Oujé-Bougoumou Eenouch care about education

Almost all community members who took our surveys (99%) agreed with the statement “Education is important.” In addition, respondents believed that adult education (96%) and post-secondary studies (91%) led to better jobs and a brighter financial future.

Cree culture has a strong impact on student success

The top three programs of interest to community members were (1) Traditional knowledge & skills, (2) Cree culture and history, and (3) Cree language. In their interviews, adults shared how speaking Cree language was meaningful to them. SAES can respond to this demand not only by offering these programs. but by taking steps to make all programs more culturally relevant.

Community members are open to online learning

Eighty percent (80%) of Oujé-Bougoumou adults say they would be open to taking a course via technology. This is the highest level of openness to online learning of any communities. It is important to note, however, that most adults said they would prefer to learn partially online with in-person support. This finding shows us the importance of continuing to invest in our online teaching and learning capacity.

Taking a program in another community is an option for many

In Oujé-Bougoumou, 81% of people were willing to leave the community temporarily for school. This openness is higher than most other communities. This is particularly promising data as there are several training centres and institutions within a 2-hour drive of Oujé-Bougoumou, which may allow students to learn outside the community while returning home often. Helping adults understand and take advantage of any educational opportunities nearby will be key in serving this community.

Community interests and employer needs overlap

The ALNA found a variety of programs that would meet employer needs and interest prospective students. These included starting a business (which was offered in 2020), bookkeeping, general building maintenance, and professional cooking. Post-secondary programs were also identified in areas such as nursing, business management, social services and forestry technician. Soft skill training in areas like teamwork and communication were also in high demand. These results will be considered when selecting programs for Oujé-Bougoumou.

Community Education Profile

In Oujé-Bougoumou, 59% of male and 76% of female adults have at least one type of diploma. Many adults in the community are also interested in pursuing further education, with 84% of community members saying they would consider going back to school.

Despite these encouraging signs, 64% of adults withdrew from school at least once during their education. Those who experienced one or more interruptions in their educational journey were less likely to have completed a diploma. Disinterest, pregnancy, and problems at school or home were the most common reasons people withdrew from school in Oujé-Bougoumou.

While there are certainly challenges facing community members, the outlook for education and training is very positive in Oujé-Bougoumou. Their location is proximate to several training centres and institutes: the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre in nearby Waswanipi, the new Mistissini Adult Learning Centre, as well as several schools in Chibougamau. In addition, Sabtuan Adult Education Services offers general education and occasional vocational programs locally, and work is underway to build a training centre in the community itself.  Perhaps most importantly, almost everyone surveyed in the community (99%) agrees that education is important. We look forward to building an adult education and training strategy for the community that helps Oujé-Bougoumou Eenouch  helps community members reach their goals.


The community education profile shows us where we are. Now, it’s time to find out where we can go from here.

Through our interviews and follow-up questions, we were able to identify success factors which impact current and prospective students in Oujé-Bougoumou. 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.

These all must be considered as we build a local adult education strategy for Oujé-Bougoumou.

Student Success Factors

In this section, you’ll read about the different success factors we’ve identified in Oujé-Bougoumou. We’ll also share some of the ways we plan to respond to these success factors in our Local Adult Education and Training Strategy. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to share your own ideas and identify what improvements are most important to you.

Teaching & School Environment

Ninety-nine percent (99%) of community members in Oujé-Bougoumou surveyed agreed with the statement that “Education is important.” Despite this fact, 64% of respondents said they withdrew from school at least once, most often in Secondary III or IV. Of these, 18% say that disinterest in school was their main reason for withdrawing, and an additional 18% cited issues with teachers.

This shows the importance of creating an engaging, inspiring environment for students when they come back through adult education. There are a few ways we can work to achieve this:

Promoting high-quality teaching. Adult education students reported that their teachers were knowledgeable (95%), easy to communicate with (88%) and understanding of the Cree culture (78%). This plays an important role in their success.

(In high school), teachers were very supportive. Made sure I was always staying at the same level as the class, not falling behind.

What I appreciate the most about Adult Ed is my teacher. She is really patient with me and she always encourages me.

Classroom spaces and schedules. Adult students shared that they appreciated the quiet in the adult education space, as well as the access to technology.

A suggestion that could be made to SAES, maybe an actual classroom would be nice. So, the teacher wouldn’t have to go around the building there seeing all the students. Would be better if we were all in one room.

I liked high school better because it was more structured. Then, you got in trouble when you didn’t go everyday but here, you choose to go when you want and I guess that’s what makes it kind of difficult because the teacher can’t really say anything if you don’t go. You won’t get in trouble, it’s just really up to you. I would be more motivated if it was more structured.

Prioritizing cultural relevance. In interviews, Oujé-Bougoumou students shared how much they appreciated the efforts their teachers made to incorporate Cree culture and history.

The teachers talk about Cree culture often here (at SAES). It was motivating, when I learned about the James Bay Agreement, I would say it had an impact.

We also learned that closeness to Cree language and culture is one of the reasons people choose to study in-community.

In secondary school, I came back to the community to study. I had to really adapt being in the community again, speaking my mother tongue, Cree. And of course, I found it emotional for a little while to understand Cree again.

Overall, there are many important takeaways about teaching and school environment from the ALNA. The results reaffirmed that teachers play a critical role in student success, and that they need more cultural resources and programs to meet student needs. We also learned that adding structure and reconsidering our class spaces could make a difference in student success for Oujé-Bougoumou students.

Actions Taken

  • Ee-Es-Kwee-Dow (My Learning Plan) course for adult students
  • Introduced semestered school calendar
  • Began development of Cree-Centric Teaching and Learning Framework

Next Steps

  • Roll out Cree-Centric Teaching and Learning Framework
  • Offer more resources to support teachers in culturally relevant, inspired teaching

Your Response

It’s your turn! What are other ways we work together to improve the learning experience for Oujé-Bougoumou students?

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Personal Motivation

There are many outside influences, such as parents, teachers, and school environment, that can impact student success. In addition, the ALNA shows us that personal motivation and positive momentum are very important.

In Oujé-Bougoumou, the main reason for going back to school was to obtain a diploma, with 62% of people saying this would be their reason to return. When asked why a diploma was important to them, people shared how the accomplishment related to their personal goals and self-image:

I want to get my diploma mostly to give an example and to help my people… in different ways that they need help, to have a better life.

I figured out I guess a bit too late, it is important when they say ‘you need your high school diploma’ to get the jobs that you want or just to open more doors. So that’s what I’m here for now – for stability and success.

Clearly, personal goals and dreams can motivate students. On the other hand, factors like substance abuse, peer pressure, and lack of direction can limit motivation. Of those who withdrew from school in Oujé-Bougoumou, 18% said boredom and disinterest was their main reason, while 13% cited drugs/alcohol. Disinterest was particularly an issue for males, with 29% saying it was the main reason they left.

I started high school outside the community. I had some difficulties in French, Math and Science. It was difficult. Then, I came back to Oujé. School was ok. I just didn’t really pay attention. I would slack off a lot. I would go for the first few months then stop and then I would just go back for my exams! I had other personal issues, like alcohol that stopped me from graduating.

My biggest challenge in school was my lack of commitment, I guess. Sometimes I didn’t want to attend school, wanted to leave. I lost interest. I continued because I saw my family members attend college and also finish it.

As people grow older, they may change their perspective and become more focused on their education. It is important to have a non-judgemental, motivating adult education environment ready for them when that time comes. Making sure students are clear on their personal goals and responsibilities as students will also be critical to their overall success.

Actions Taken

  • Goal-setting approached in Ee-Es-Kwee-Dow course.
  • Motivation webinars offered through Wellness Services.
  • Adult Learner Day/Creative showcase organized to celebrate students.

Next Steps

  • Improve use and follow-up of Learning Plans
  • Increase linkages with health board to support students with challenges
  • Fill vacant guidance counsellor and re-integration counsellor positions

Your Response

It’s your turn! How can you encourage others to follow their dreams and goals?

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Family Impact

For many Oujé-Bougoumou adults, family members greatly impact educational decisions and motivations.

On one hand, problems at home (15%) and pregnancy (10%) are leading reasons people withdraw from their studies. For female students, pregnancy was a particularly strong factor with over one-quarter (26%) of people saying it was their main reason for withdrawing from school.

I left school because I was becoming a father at a young age. I was 17 years old when I found out that my girlfriend was pregnant. So, knowing the stresses of financials and everything with a child, I dropped out of school, decided to go to work.

On the other hand, the family often play a key role in an adult's decision to return to their studies. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and partners can encourage adults to return to school, as well as providing information and support to make the decision easier:

My parents. I think it was my parents that brought my registration papers to Sabtuan. Because they were in school with me. Well not in my class but that year they were over there too, they were studying something else. They also helped me with my kids, financially.

My parents encouraged be. Telling me I should go back to school. Then they told me ‘we’ll watch your daughter, you can go to school’. But that was during the evening because I was only able to go during the evening, because I would work during the day.

It was mainly my family that influenced me to graduate. The last thing my dad told me was ‘keep going to school until you finish,’ so I did.
My grandpa. He encouraged me to go to school and told me about how to get financial support. My mother too, telling me to keep staying in school, finish the program so I can have a better future
Another consideration is children, as many adult students are themselves parents. While pregnancy is a leading reason people initially leave school in Oujé-Bougoumou, the desire to set an example for children can also motivate people to return through adult education:

My number one priority is my son, I love that little dude. I do want to become a good role model for him. Especially with the past that I have, the challenges that I had. Nothing’s changing my mind, I want to continue going to school. I need more education to get better at everything. School is important and now, in today’s society, you really need a higher education, higher grade to really get to where you want to be.

Overall, Sabtuan Adult Education Services must honour the role of the family unit in an adult’s educational journey. It is important that we meet the unique needs of parents and encourage students to reach out to their family support systems.

Actions Taken

  • Financial assistance policy includes amounts for dependants.
  • Public childcare coverage now included in financial assistance for parents of young children.
  • General education teachers often work to develop school schedules and assignments that work with parents’ lives.

Next Steps

  • Further consider family dynamics as part of our Wellness Services/student support services.
  • Increase collaboration with youth sector.

Your Response

It’s your turn! How can the community at large better support parents who want to go back to school?

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Job & Financial Considerations

For Oujé-Bougoumou community members, the ability to find a job without a diploma often contributes to the decision to leave school. The decision to work rather than go to school is not only financially-driven; in our interviews, people shared that going to work was seen as a way to do something “different” if school became boring or challenging:

I had a hard time because I switched from French to English. It was too much for me. I was also having family issues. I also started working at a really young age. Just thought to myself that not everyone is meant to have a diploma. It was going well at work so I just stopped going to school and went to work more. I took courses too for my work.

Those who withdraw from school to work can become accustomed to a certain lifestyle, especially after several years of working. This can make it difficult to return to school. In fact, 42% of community members who are not interested in returning to school say "needing to work” is the main reason. Financial support is key to helping these students continue with their education:

I was too tired all the time. Because I had 2 or 3 jobs at one point and I tired myself out too much and then I just gave up everything. I limited myself to just having 2 jobs, and then eventually I only had one. After a while, I stopped again. I needed to make money. Now, I am back and I am getting help from my parents.

If I had full support to go back. Not having to worry about bills, putting food on the table. I would go back.

Provide funding I guess for students that need to maintain income to pay off their bills and whatnot, what if they have kids they need to take care of. That’s what I noticed mainly when I was here, that’s what the other students were mainly worried about. That’s why some of them dropped out to go back to working.

Right now, I’m really thinking about going back to school. I’m probably going to continue working with this work experience program, to start a business course. I’m thinking about maybe just back in 2021. Just so that I can financially help myself going back to school, getting the things that I need.
This shows just how important student financial assistance is for adult students in Oujé-Bougoumou. Only 30% of community members say they are satisfied with their current job, and 43% say they would pursue other qualifications if it was required for a promotion. It is therefore important that Sabtuan Adult Education Service take the time to explain to students how education can lead to a better job. Working with employers to motivate people to continue training will also be key.

I figured out I guess a bit too late, it is important when they say ‘you need your high school diploma’ to get the jobs that you want or just to open more doors. So that’s what I’m here for now – for stability and success.

Sabtuan Adult Education Services has already taken several steps to respond to this success factor, including launching a new student financial assistance program and formalizing a partnership with Apatitisiiwin Skills Development. Moving forward, increased collaboration with local employers and career planning support can help us to better respond to this success factor.

Actions Taken

  • Launched financial assistance program in 2020-21 school year.
  • Formalized partnership with Apatisiiwin Skills Development.

Next Steps

  • Further consider family dynamics as part of our Wellness Services/student support services.
  • Increase collaboration with youth sector.

Your Response

It’s your turn! What else could help eliminate financial barriers to education in Oujé-Bougoumou?

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Program Recommendations

As we reviewed economic plans and employer feedback from Oujé-Bougoumou, it became clear that capacity building in harmony with the land and traditions are at the center of the economic vision of this community. More specifically, sustainable forestry, culturally-based tourism, and entrepreneurship are key growth areas for the community.

Community members’ program interests very much aligned with the overall direction of the community. The most popular programs were Cree traditional knowledge and skills, Cree culture and history, and Cree language. This shows that community members have a keen desire to build a strong foundation of traditional knowledge and worldview. The fourth most popular program was “Starting a Business,” which was offered in Oujé-Bougoumou in the 2019-2020 school year. Programs in health care, construction, management, and administration were also popular.

By combining community member data with employer feedback from Apatisiiwin Skills Developments’ CENA study, we were able to identify the highest-demand programs in Eastmain 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 Oujé-Bougoumou, please contact ASD.

Additional Workshops/non-credited training

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:

  • Leadership/management training
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • Time management/punctuality

Employers noted that, in addition to local training opportunities, finding the time to train employees is another significant challenge.

What competencies do you see as important to develop? Communication skills, punctuality and teamwork.- Employer

Program Delivery

Oujé-Bougoumou community members were among the most open to attending a program in another community. Only 19% would no longer be interested in a program if it was not offered in the community, as compared to 22%, on average, for the other communities. However, many said it was important that they be able to visit home regularly.

Another way to provide education is through technology. If a program of interest was not offered in their community, 80% of respondents would be open to taking a course either fully or partially online. This is a higher level of openness than many other communities. Overall, the ALNA data shows that Oujé-Bougoumou community members are willing to adapt to different learning methods and locations in order to meet their educational goals.
Most people preferred a combination of online learning and in-person learning. As Sabtuan Adult Education Services has significantly increased its digital capacity over the past year, these are options we could explore to serve more students.

It is life changing when you move from the community to go down south or even another community, you know the transition. It has an impact.”

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.

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