A promising funding investment of $808,456 was added to programs aimed at relieving barriers faced by Kahnawa’kehró:non working individuals and businesses impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In an announcement made on Monday, August 6, Tewatohnhi’saktha expressed that the much needed federal government financial support will go directly toward skills and employment training programs.
Since the pandemic struck, there has been a growing necessity to invest in this sector, according to director of Workforce Development for Tewatohnhi’saktha, Angie Marquis.
“One of the first areas my division has really been focused on is building our workforce by training individuals, getting them back into the workforce, and giving them skills to work,” explained Marquis.
“When it comes to businesses, we also help them by assisting them with hiring,” she added.
This need to support and develop a home-based workforce was made all the more evident at the beginning of the health crisis, when businesses first shut down and the community decided to close its doors to outsiders in order to protect its most vulnerable members.
“When everything opened up again, it was very hard for businesses to hire back their employees,” said Marquis, pointing out that the lack of income made it difficult for businesses to even consider hiring staff again. “This is when we also extended the wage subsidy program and made it larger.”
This latest funding is being added to the already approximate $2.7 million spent thus far in businesses interruption fund, workforce development programs and the Indigenous Community Business Fund.
All of the programs and funding initiatives that received money in the last year-and-a-half were created by the Kahnawà:ke's Economic Development Commission (KEDC) in response to the pandemic.
“This is all still new to us. We’ve never had any COVID-19 program prior, so we had to develop this as we went while assessing the needs in our community,” noted Marquis.
Additional projects in the works for the upcoming year include a carpentry program, which the director of workforce explained would greatly benefit the community that has been struggling with certification and training issues in the sector.
Kahnawa’kehró:non can look forward to the program taking off in 2022.
In the meantime, Marquis said KEDC would keep on working with individuals and businesses alike on ways to assist them both throughout and after the pandemic.
“We continue to follow up with our businesses, we ask questions and we let them know that we’re here for support,” said Marquis. “It’s important to us that our lines of communication with businesses are always open and we follow up on their needs.”
Laurence Brisson Dubreuil, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door