Piapot Cree Nation celebrated some of its graduates in September
- Kerry Benjoe | September 22, 2023
Zachary Carrier says he has found a new recipe for success thanks to a unique summer construction program on his First Nation.
The 30-year-old cook never thought he would enjoy working outside until he signed up for a special project the Piapot Cree Nation was offering this summer.
Having recently left the cooking trade, Carrier was eager to try something new and didn’t expect such an opportunity to fall into his lap.
“This is a totally different scenery for me,” he said. “Waking up early was something new for me and is something I had to get used to. I always worked nights when I cooked, so I would be up super late and getting up in the afternoon.”
Although it was a tough adjustment at first, the hands-on and outdoor work is something Carrier really enjoys.
He now has plans to pursue further training in the trades.
Carrier said the best parts of the summer was working on the roof.
Evan Crowe, the learning and development coordinator for Piapot, is the brainchild behind the Residential Renovation and Construction (RRAC) project.
He said it’s his job to find programs that would be the most beneficial to the membership and through networking he discovered the Saskatchewan Indian Institute for Technologies (SIIT) and its many programs.
“The RRAC is a good program to teach them the entry-level skills to get onto any job site and it’s an apprenticeship initiative, so this gives them the hours to put towards an apprenticeship,” said Crowe. “They also get all the tools they need to get started.”
Crowe then approached Naomi Wesaquate Piapot’s housing manager with his idea.
“One of the things they needed was a project,” she said. “So when the RRAC was selected as the program they were going to do, we came up with the project for them to do the renovation on. We found a unit that needed quite a bit of work.”
The house was inspected and all the areas needing work were identified. It was an exterior renovation, so housing provided the funds for the materials, and the program supplied the labour.
“It worked out really great for us because a renovation of that nature could cost over $70,000, so we were able to get this project done at a fraction of the cost,” said Wesaquate.
Both Crowe and Wesaquate say it was win-win for everyone involved.
The students received training, the housing department received an exterior renovation but most importantly the family living in the unit has an updated home complete with a new deck, siding, roof doors and windows.
They both appreciated the support from leadership on the pilot project.