Sabtuan Adult Education Services, Apatisiiwin Skills Development Sign Official Partnership Agreement
Cree School Board Director General calls partnership a “significant step forward” for Cree capacity building.
The Cree School Board’s adult education sector, Sabtuan Adult Education Services, today signed an official partnership agreement with the Cree Nation Government’s Apatisiiwin Skills Development (ASD). The partnership sets out shared standards for information sharing, confidentiality, consultation, and community relations and will evolve as needed.
With the ASD department mandated to meet employment needs and SAES providing general education courses and accredited vocational training programs to adults in Eeyou Istchee, their respective clientele often overlap.
The partnership was inspired by the Roundtables on Capacity Building, where community members expressed the need for better alignment of training and employment services, improved communications, and increased collaboration between entities. Cree School Board Director General Abraham Jolly and ASD Director Louisa Saganash both saw this feedback as a direct call to action. A formal agreement between the Cree School Board’s adult education sector, SAES, and Cree Nation Government’s ASD offers the most efficient way to ensure a long-term and clear collaboration.
The Cree School Board’s Director of Adult Education Nian Matoush and Director of Apatisiiwin Skills Development Louisa Saganash present their shared capacity-building initiatives at the 2019 Summit on Building Capacity in Eeyou Istchee (photo taken before COVID-19 pandemic)
“We are focused on employment for the Cree Nation at Apatisiiwin Skills Development. That is the core of our mission and where we have the expertise,” said Louisa Saganash, Director of ASD. “The Cree School Board’s Sabtuan Adult Education Services focus on education and have the expertise to develop and offer training programs that match the needs of the community.”
Developing this agreement to share information will facilitate working together, and allow ASD and SAES to better serve our communities and assist our clientele so they may thrive in a future they choose.”
Abraham Jolly, Director General of the Cree School Board, sees the partnership as a “significant step forward for capacity building.”
“Organizational effectiveness and community engagement are key themes in the Cree School Board Strategic Action Plan. It is powerful to see our adult education sector take tangible, meaningful steps towards these goals,” he said.
“Partnerships like these prevent duplication, strengthen decision-making, and help us to better communicate with communities. I have no doubt that this partnership agreement will have a positive impact on both organizations and the communities we serve.”
Collaboration is key as Cree School Board takes ownership of training centres in Waskaganish, Wemindji
One of the partnership agreement’s central goals is to “maximize the use of training centres.”
Ownership of the Waskaganish Vocational Training Centre and Mayaupiu Training Institute in Wemindji recently transferred from the Cree Nation Government to the Cree School Board, making this a key part of discussions. ASD will continue to operate out of these buildings, with collaboration guided by the principles set out in the new partnership agreement.
To lead the transfer, oversee operations, and strengthen programming at the centres, SAES has also hired Centre Directors in Wemindji and Waskaganish. Darlene Cheechoo will lead the Waskaganish Vocational Training Centre and Stephane Bastien has been hired as the Centre Director for the Mayaupiu Training Centre. Rubin McNeely has also been hired to lead the Mistissini Adult Learning Centre once it opens next year.
“Just as Principals are important to our schools, Centre Directors and local support staff will play a vital role in making adult education centres as successful as possible,” said Abraham Jolly, Director General of the Cree School Board. “These new administrators will ensure smooth operations, strong community relations, and accountability for our local centres. We look forward to maximizing the impact these centres can have on Cree capacity.”
Plans underway for Adult Learning Centres in each community
Currently, SAES operates centres in four communities: local centres in Wemindji, Waskaganish, and Mistissini (soon to open), as well as the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre (SRVTC) in Waswanipi.
Planning is underway to build training centres in other Eeyou Istchee communities as well. Last year, the Cree Nation Government initiated plans to build a centre in Oujé-Bougoumou. Budget allocations to build centres in Nemaska, Eastmain, and Whapmagoostui in the future were also recently approved by the Cree School Board Council of Commissioners.
Both SAES and ASD look forward to each Cree community having its own Adult Learning Centre in the future. Regular meetings between SAES and ASD will support collaboration and ensure the agreement evolves with future needs, facilities, programs, services, and opportunities.
“We are both growing as organizations and adapting to serve a growing Cree Nation as well. This agreement sets a strong precedent that we can build upon. The language is clear, the spirit of the agreement is clear,” said Louisa Saganash, Director of ASD. “In the end, it’s all about finding the most effective way to support the success of our communities and our clients and uniting our strengths to their benefit – now and in the future.”