Co-operators partners with indigenous organizations to launch youth employability program

Co-operators has unveiled its Indigenous Youth Employability Initiative in partnership with indigenous communities

Co-operators partners with indigenous organizations to launch youth employability program

Insurance News

By Jonalyn Cueto

Co-operators has unveiled its Indigenous Youth Employability Initiative, a $1-million program aimed at enhancing cultural safety, personal resilience, and employment opportunities for indigenous youth within Co-operators and beyond.

The initiative is part of Co-operators’ three-year reconciliation strategy. It was announced at the Indigenous Youth Employability Gathering held in October 2023.

The four-day event hosted by Co-operators, The Howl Experience, and the Nakoda Youth Council saw over 50 participants, including 26 youths alongside various community partners from 20 communities and six provinces.

“The gathering highlighted for us the challenges that Indigenous youth face in entering the workforce, from language barriers and transportation to housing obstacles, and the opportunities we have to address those,” Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of Co-operators, said.

“Both the employability initiative and our broader reconciliation strategy aim to help tackle these challenges and I look forward to continuing our journey of learning and listening to elevate Indigenous voices and experiences both in and outside of Co-operators.”

Creating more cultural engagement with indigenous communities

Participants of the October gathering highlighted key issues, including the need for greater cultural awareness in workplaces, indigenous mentorship programs, and opportunities for cultural engagement.

To respond to these issues, Co-operators has committed to acting as a pilot organization for implementing several recommendations. These include reconvening participants to sustain momentum, establishing a mentorship program, empowering youth to lead employability conversations in their communities, and facilitating opportunities for youth to share their stories with employers.

Adam Robb, founder and co-director of The Howl Experience, expressed pride in partnering with Co-operators to promote Indigenous cultures and voices in workplaces.

“We share with Co-operators the vision that everyone can contribute to improve the lives of others in their communities,” Robb said. “The Gathering and the employability initiative will result in programs that respect and promote Indigenous cultures and voices in workplaces.”

Over the next three years, Co-operators plans to introduce changes to its business practices that align with its reconciliation strategy.

These initiatives are structured around three pillars, including respecting indigenous ways as a business, embracing truth and reconciliation as a financial services cooperative, and collaborating with Indigenous communities, the company said in a press release.

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