Stoney Nakoda First Nation students achieve 90% success rate in SAIT program

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Stoney Nakoda First Nation students achieve 90% success rate in SAIT program

Students from Morley and Eden Valley are now ready for careers in tourism and customer service, after graduation day on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

At the Bearspaw Youth Centre in Morley, Alta., students accepted diplomas and certificates from their instructors this week.

Allie Lefthand got a certificate in Essential Skills and Customer Service and says he learned tools that will help him for the rest of his life.

"It helps me with how to speak to people, and not to get pushed away or be bullied," Lefthand told CBC News.

Lefthand says his schooling will help him in his current job at the Eden Valley Wellness Centre, but he also looks forward to starting his own arts and crafts business.

He's one of 30 people to participate in two SAIT courses.

Student Kirby Poucette says he's been looking forward to this day.

"It has been a long time for me," Poucette said. "I have waited years for this to happen for me and I finally did it, so I am pretty proud of myself. I am not going to stop here. I am going further on with my learning."

SAIT teamed up with Stoney leaders to train people to work at a planned tourism centre and gas stop.

Instructor Janine Violini says the students made a lot of progress.

"You can really see the growth from the first day where everybody's intimidated, shy, not sure what to expect," she said.

"It's such a significant difference I'd say some of them even look different."

Program coordinator Travis Ouchi says it was a successful 18 weeks in the classroom.

"We had classes on business writing so they know how to answer inquiries that were coming by email but also phone skills in case of telephone inquiries as well, and also face-to-face customer relation skills.

Ouchi says there was about a 90 per cent graduation rate.

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