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  • Nerida K

Pathways Project Update: Supporting Communities and Individuals

Chef Shane Chartrand and Cooks with Stones 2023 Participants
Chef Shane Chartrand and Cooks with Stones 2023 Participants

We’ve been busy! From Cooks with Stones in Calgary to the launch of Me-yaw-sin Micowin (Good Food) in Winnipeg to delivering workshops at Adaawewigamig in Ottawa. It’s been an incredible six months since we last dedicated a post to sharing updates from Pathways and highlighting all the incredible work of the partnerships formed across Canada.

Take a look!

Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles

Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles (IWLC) helps learners, people new to the workplace, and people returning to work to build skills necessary for success at work and in everyday life. It’s a key program and part of Pathways. It was developed in partnership with Indigenous communities and is being continually adapted and used as a stepping stone for employment, further education, and trades across the project and for different communities and organizations.

One community where IWLC is being delivered is in Stoney Nation in partnership with Stoney Nation Job Resource Centre (SNJRC) to help establish a strong peer and cultural support network for Indigenous youth. The IWLC program here has incorporated a ‘culture week’ into the program that gives learners a chance to bead, and make drums and ribbon skirts. This impactful part of the program is also a chance to discover and recognize all the literacy and essential skills, and talents they already have.

They’re learning essential skills, numeracy and documenting their culture by beading a hat or making a drum. They have so many skills they don’t even know. Then they have an epiphany and realize the kind of skills they have that can be transferred to a workplace. - Shawna Linklater, FESA Facilitator

Another focus of the IWLC program and partnership with SNJRC these past months has been passing on knowledge and expertise to staff and youth to take on the program and run it on their own. As well as empowering youth in the program to become mentors to future participants.

National Advisory Circle

Our National Advisory Circle (NAC), made up of Elders, Knowledge Keepers and Indigenous youth, continue to guide Pathways vision and offer insight on the programs and resources being developed. An important part of the NAC is mentorship for the Indigenous youth members with senior members. The youth shared areas and skills they would be like to mentored on including public speaking, conflict resolution, problem-solving, communication, facilitation, and learning with Elders.

Cooks with Stones

Our award-winning Cooks with Stones program was held for a third year. It started with a pipe ceremony and celebration at Lake Minnewanka with Elders from the Stoney Nakoda Nation,

Pursuit (employer partner in the program), participants and families, FESA staff, supporters, and funders. For the rest of the week the participants prepared for their internships with Pursuit, began Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles and enjoyed some cultural activities.


For the next four weeks the participants had the opportunity to work with chefs and gain some hands-on experience in commercial kitchens Pursuit’s Farm and Fire, the Brazen and Gondola-Sky Bistro restaurants.

I go in to visit the Interns at their placements most days of the week, and it brings me such joy to see them all happy, smiling, and learning. I hope they are very proud of the work they are doing and the steps they are taking to further their careers. It's been wonderful to get to know them, not just as Interns but as individuals.  I want to take a moment to applaud the individuals who have really dived into the program, asked for extra tasks, and booked their own later busses to extend their shifts. I also want to enthusiastically acknowledge the individuals who are taking the time to really enjoy Banff, (as a place, not just a placement) and booked their own later busses so they could enjoy the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays or jump in the river on really hot afternoons. – Vanessa Wainwright, Pursuit

One of the highlights of Cooks with Stones has always been the opportunity for mentorship with renowned Indigenous chefs and the chance to learn about traditional Indigenous cooking and ingredients. This year’s partnering chef was Chef Shane Chartrand from the Maple Leaf Banff and Banff Hospitality Collective’s Indigenous programming. He led workshops for the next week with participating youth in Calgary’s Confederation Park preparing a wide range of dishes including spicy summer salads, Spanish-inspired paella, rabbit ravioli, roasted duck and bison heart over an open flame.

Really what it’s all about is just taking the Indigenous touchstones of information and sharing it with the youth so they can take over my position… At the end of the day, we’re all going to sit together as a family, as new friends, and eat the food that we’ve created. It’s pretty important and it’s pretty incredible. – Chef Shane Chartrand


The final weeks included more Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles, mentorship, job and career exploration. For the youth that expressed interest in continuing to work in the restaurants, an opportunity to return to the Pursuit kitchens for a 3-week schedule as employees.

Lastly, the program was celebrated with a closing ceremony. Family and friends, partners and funders were invited to lunch at the Northern Lights Gondola before moving to the theatre room for the ceremony. Elder Vinnia Van Overdyk opened the event with a smudge and prayer, asking that the youth be successful in their careers, and certificates were shared with each of them.

Adaawewigamig and Ottawa

We were lucky enough to travel out to Ottawa again and spend time with youth from Assembly of Seven Generations (A7G) at their storefront and social enterprise Adaawewigamig in the Byward Market. Sade Auger, Pathways Regional Community Facilitator, led another skills' development workshop for the youth and everyone worked through a new employee handbook created for Adaawewigamig reflecting on the information in the handbook and providing feedback.

We’ll be continuing to explore pathways and other opportunities in tourism for youth with A7G, as well as in government as we develop pre-employment training for Indigenous youth interested in the Government sector.

And we can’t forget this! We’re excited to be sponsoring and attending A7G’s 7th Annual Round Dance again. It’s coming up on February 24th and Chef Scott Iserhoff, another mentoring chef from our culinary training programs and Cooks with Stones, will be in Ottawa to cater the event!

Deep Dish Dialogues

Chef Dean Heckert (mentoring Métis chef from Pathways culinary programs) and Ted Norris (Chair of Pathway’s National Advisory Circle) were invited by University of Guelph to join a ‘Deep Dish Dialogues'. In-person and online, Chef Dean guided students at the university through his preparation of a sunflower seed, duck, and wild rice risotto while Ted shared highlights of the Pathways project and the Cooks with Stones London event.

Me-yaw-sin Micowin (Good Food)

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding our new partnerships in Manitoba and the new Me-yaw-sin Micowin (Good Food) Initiative. Together with the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), Bistro on Notre Dame (BoND), and RRC Polytech we’re launching a culinary education program for Métis youth. It will be a 12-week program with traditional and contemporary Métis cooking styles, mentorship, life skills training, work experience and referral opportunities.

You can read more and check out all the pictures from the recent launch of the program in Winnipeg here: Me-yaw-sin Micowin means Good Food and Opportunities for Métis' Youth

The launch has also been featured in news across Canada, including in the Winnipeg Sun and on CTV News Calgary! You can see the CTV News Calgary video and read the full write-up here:


Last but not least, we’re continuing to develop our eLearning programming. This will be a space to watch as we develop finance, safety, and life skills sessions to complement our online Indigenous Workplace Learning Circles program. The programs being developed are based on needs identified by our project partners, bridging organizations and program participants.

Pathways brings together Elders, Indigenous youth and their communities, mentors, bridging organizations (those that provide job resource and skills training support) and employers to create new pathways to meaningful work and employment in the Tourism and Government sectors. You can read more about the Pathways Project by exploring our blog and or on the website here:

The Pathways Project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.


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