Artisan crafts provide a doorway to the workforce

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Elder Fran Jadis, Basketweaving instructor shows Minister Richard Brown (second right) some details of a hand woven basket. Looking on are Victoria Peters (second left); Chief Brian Francis (center); and Patricia Peters (right).

Islanders wanting to connect with the labour force are learning traditional arts and crafts as a way to broaden their skills and make them more employable.

“Education is vital to enhancing an individual’s skills and potential for long-term employment,” said Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister Richard Brown. “Through this creative learning opportunity, participants are receiving Mi’kmaq traditional artisan training that is helping them achieve their goal of becoming self-sustaining and successful.”

A partnership between the provincial and federal governments and the Aboriginal community, the 20-week Abegweit First Nation Mi’kmaq Artisan Project exposes participants to classroom and hand-on training in Mi’kmaq arts and crafts including bead work, quilting, moccasins, harvesting sweet grass and other herbs, and more. Participants can also engage in planning development and business techniques of Abegweit First Nation’s community garden and learn how it contributes to food tourism and making Prince Edward Island Canada’s Food Island.

“Participants are learning valuable marketable skills that will enhance their quality of life, while connecting traditional arts and crafts with economic opportunities,” said Chief Brian Francis, Abegweit First Nation.

Participants may choose to continue to grow the skills they learn in the program and turn them into a small business for themselves making and selling their Mi’kmaq artisan crafts. One participant, who had never been exposed to sewing before this work experience project, has since purchased her own sewing machine so that she can continue quilting and sewing once the project ends.

“For us, this project has been another great example of various levels of government and community working together, and we are so pleased with the outcome for the participants,” said Sherri Barrett, Director of Employment Services with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI.

Funding is provided by SkillsPEI and the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) coordinated through the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI on behalf of Abegweit First Nation.

Media  contact:
Sheila Kerry
Senior Communications Officer
Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning
(902) 620-3688

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