Hopelink International


Bringing hope to the world's children and young adults, one life at a time!

 First Nations young man playing volleyball

ACE-Quetico Training to Employment Project 10-03-11

Project Description

Training to Employment Project Plan

1. What is the employment, education and training profile of the targeted project participants?

This project will recruit unemployed Aboriginal youth who have completed at least a grade 10 education. Priority will be given to youth who have been out of work for 26 weeks or more; have a past record of poor work retention (defined as three or more jobs in the past year); and youth with disabilities who can train to the level of skill the job positions require, with the assistance of reasonable accommodations.

2. How will the project support the training and employment requirements of higher need participants?

Students will be screened through a rigorous academic and job skills assessment process that will clearly identify the gaps that will be addressed in the training program. Each participant will receive an Individual Training Plan (ITP) customized to their particular needs and the career-path they have chosen (choices are limited to available positions for hire). Student Success coordinators, tutors, and mentors will be provided through Confederate College; career mentors will be provided through industry partnerships; program supplies not included in the course fees will be purchased with project funds, for students. Students with disabilities will be provided with the necessary interventions and accommodations to facilitate their success. On-the-job training through the first 12 months of employment will be monitored and supervised to assist students to continuously strengthen skills and process any workplace difficulties. In addition, Elders and industry mentors will be engaged in the life skills development process and students will be connected to community social services as needed to ensure their success.

3. How will the partnership outreach to employers to secure workplace training and employment opportunities? Where are the employment opportunities expected to be located?

The three employer partners for this project are committed to reaching out to other industry partners to advocate for support of the training to employment program. This advocacy will extend the availability of career paths and employment options, as well as ensure sustainability for these efforts at ACE-Quetico, far beyond the timeline and scope of this grant project. Local industries will be invited to bring presentations, workshops, and motivational activities to the students at ACE-Quetico. All partner employers have made commitments to hire qualified graduates for specific job positions that they have presented in a 24 month forecast (see letters of commitment).

4. Describe the plans of the partnership for outreach to interested participants and participant groups?

Through Band Council Resolutions, the First Nations communities have committed their assistance with identifying potential participants. A team from HopeLink and Confederation College will travel to partner FN communities and fly-in reserves to conduct assessments and interviews for applicant recruitment and screening. Data will be collated and given to a selection committee (project partners¡¦ representatives and project advisory board members) who will determine the participants to enroll in the first class of 30. A wait-list will be developed for inclusion in recruitment for the second class of 30. Confederation College uses an LBS mathematics and communications placement assessment test to determine each learners specific provincial literacy levels - LBS3, LBS4, LBS5 and ACE. Pre-essential skills levels will be determined using TOWES as the tool to measure learner skills, and a post-test to measure learner achievements. Data on learner skill levels both pre and post training will be recorded in a database. These tools have been developed in order to meet the requirements of Employment Ontario. Confederation College is the approved provider of the ACE curriculum and all final assessments and exams will be administered and evaluated by their designated Academic Upgrading staff.

5. Please describe the training, where it will occur, who will provide it and how will it be tailored to the learning and cultural characteristics of the group?

The training to employment plan will occur primarily at the ACE-Quetico Centre, north of Thunder Bay ¡V a residential community learning center. Students, from remote areas, will be flown in via a donated airplane and will also have the opportunity to visit home for a week at appropriate times between classroom training and work site experiences. Participants will go to work sites for on-the-job training experiences following completion of the required course/job skills training modules. Confederate College will provide the majority of the training program and Nuna Training Technologies will provide heavy equipment training. In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in two unique ¡§work site laboratory¡¨ experiences before going on to their employer based on-the-job training. Outland will provide remote camp learning experiences while participants work in the forestry summer camps and HopeLink and Nuna will engage the participants in building an airplane runway for the ACE-Quetico Centre. Staff will be recruited, by all partners, who have had experience working with First Nations communities to deliver successful programs. Staff will be culturally sensitive and will participate in staff development activities provided by Elders in the FN communities. In addition to classroom training, evening motivational programs will be presented by senior Aboriginal community leaders and industry mentors. Wherever possible, mentors and tutors will be obtained from the local communities. The project advisory board will have several FN community representatives who will guide all partners in culturally sensitive operations for the project.

Community Collaboration and Support

1. Who is involved in the project¡¦s collaboration/partnership? Please include information about all the partners involved, any previous experiences and successes working together and each partner¡¦s contribution to the project, whether that be in time, energy and/or resources (physical, monetary or in-kind supports).

The project partnership includes HopeLink International, a not-for-profit organization, operating in Northern Ontario, three employers (North American Palladium, Outland Reforestation, and Macdonald Mines), two training organizations (Nuna Technologies and Confederate College), and two First Nations communities (Cat Lake and Lac des Mille)

HopeLink International

HopeLink is a Charitable Organization that is establishing a specialized Aboriginal College, to be called ACE-QUETICO (Aboriginal Centre of Excellence ¡V Quetico). The HopeLink vision is to create a strong sustainable model that, once operative, will inspire other communities to replicate it in their local settings. Our vision is supported by the 49 Chiefs of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Treaty Three communities and Ontario Metis communities. It will be open to all Aboriginal students. Our goal is to create a ¡§Legacy of Hope¡¨ for children and youth in Aboriginal communities by directly helping post-secondary students succeed in successfully completing further education and obtaining worthwhile careers or advancing to even further training.

The ACE-Quetico uniqueness will be:

a) A fully Aboriginal College where the aboriginal students will not be a minority

b) A wilderness setting without distractions or city culture shock.

c) A training program in co-operation with Corporate Partners who are committed to supporting and hiring First Nations graduates.

d) Specialized Program College Accredited Training chosen by a special Curriculum Advisory Board made up of Aboriginal Leaders, Confederation College Leaders, and Corporate Leaders.

e) Specialized additional teachers to provide personalized Literacy and Numeracy Training to meet student needs

HopeLink has support from Confederation College, corporations such as North American Palladium, Nuna Logistics Corporation, TD Canada Trust, Rotary International, churches and private individuals. In addition the Mission Aviation fellowship of Canada has donated an airplane and critical support services to provide youth from fly-in reserve communities the opportunity to participate in this project. HopeLink will be the proponent on this project, providing operational management, activity implementation, and responsibility for all project deliverables.


Outland's roots are in tree planting and forestry, although this represents a relatively small portion of its current business. Today, Outland is a natural resources services company involved in: forestry; the provision of camp services to mining and mining exploration firms; vegetation management; First Nation, Inuit and Metis capacity building; youth and adult training; and, aboriginal joint venture projects. Outland is a proven industry leader in Aboriginal capacity building due to its knowledgeable personnel, in-field management experience, and company-wide commitment to cultural sensitivity. Outland may be one of the largest employers of aboriginal workers in Northern Ontario. Outland is currently working with a number of communities, industry partners, and educational institutions across Canada, including the far North, to deliver relevant and effective employment and training programs. For example, Outland has been running the day-to-day operations of the First Nations Natural Resources Youth Employment Program successfully and continuously for eleven (11) years. The Youth Employment Program offers First Nations youth a safe, structured and predictable work environment in order to gain a head start in securing eventual employment in the natural resource sectors and promotes secondary and post-secondary education to attain these goals. The program is conducted during the months of July and August in a field camp setting where program supervisory staff maintains complete control over daily work / training schedules, meal times, recreation time and curfews. Given that the Project will operate ¡§24/7¡¨ in a live-in, semi-remote setting, Outland is a natural fit, as Employer partner, to provide on-site and on-going project leadership and enhancement. Outland can play a pivotal role in assisting and advising on the actual day-to-day project program delivery. Outland, Nuna Technologies and Confederate College have partnered together on many projects. Outland has committed to facilitate and oversee on-the-job training by providing a ¡§work site boot camp¡¨ experience for students, similar to the Youth Employment Program. This field experience will provide wages and allow students to participate in a full cycle work project from start to finish. Outland will also employ 10-24 graduates who successfully acquire the skills for permanent work.

Macdonald Mines is a mineral exploration company with an established history in the exploration of gold and base metals. MacDonald has set upon a strategic direction of exploration in the Canadian Northlands and is eager to hire locally. They have committed on-the-job training wages and to hire up to a maximum of 39 skilled graduates from this training project.

North American Palladium (NAP) is a Canadian diversified precious metals company focused on growing its production of palladium and gold in mining-friendly jurisdictions. As an established producer, NAP operates its two 100%-owned mines in Canada and has a robust pipeline of growth projects near its mine sites. Lac des Iles, NAP¡¦s flagship mine, is one of North America¡¦s two primary palladium producers. Located approximately 85 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Lac des Iles started producing palladium in 1993. NAP has committed to donations of equipment, on-the-job training wages, and subsequent hires of up to 16 qualified graduates.


Confederate College of Arts and Technology (CCAT) is a publicly-funded, post-secondary institution serving education needs in North-western Ontario and beyond. CCAT delivers a broad array of programs in areas such as business, community services, health, and technology. Based in Thunder Bay, CCAT has expertise in developing educational networks evidenced by its establishment of six regional campuses located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Kenora, Geraldton, Marathon and Sioux Lookout. Through this network CCAT delivers exceptional resource-based education and training in over fifty postsecondary diploma and certificate programs to an average of 11,800 combined full and part-time students per year using over 600 full and part-time employees through which it provides community-based programs. Confederation College has decades of experience in delivering literacy and Essential Skills training; the related curriculum is reviewed and renewed on an annual basis. CCAT has had many years of proven success in the delivery of this curriculum, which have also been successfully packaged for on-line and distance formats. In addition to literacy and basic skills curriculum, they offer Personal Career Development, GED preparation and a number of pre-apprenticeship access-oriented postsecondary programs, such as the College Access, Pre-Health and Pre-Technology programs. With a record of over 85% successful training and job placement for its graduates, CCAT has the capacity and expertise to work with HopeLink to implement the proposed Training to Employment Project.

Nuna Training Technologies (NTT) is an industry leader in the delivery and facilitation of simulator-based training for the mining and earthworks industries. NTT delivers a range of programs in areas such as pre-employment screening, pre-employment operator familiarization, operator emergency training and response to machine problems, and conventional hands-on training. NTT has developed an extensive network of clients and partners across Canada. NTT has collaborated with HopeLink on other training projects and together these partners will implement a practical application project for the students by building an airstrip at the ACE-Quetico Centre site.

2. How does the project connect/link/build on existing services in the community? How will it meet the current needs or address existing gaps/barriers to improve the education, training, and employment services that are currently available within the community?

Cat Lake First Nations

FN Community leaders have shared their frustration, as last year, 18 students were sent to a variety of institutions in Northern Ontario, mostly in urban settings where there was little cultural sensitivity, no upgrading of literacy skills, and limited group activities, students boarded in rooming houses throughout the community. The result: Only 4 students completed their year, with the other 14 dropping out throughout the year for a number of reasons! On a recruiting team visit in August, leaders handed us the list of 40 young people between 18-25 who had finished high school and were looking for an opportunity to train for a skill that would be a key to their future career. When we shared the ACE Quetico Centre plans they reviewed our list of courses, including heavy equipment operation, and they wanted to immediately begin the process of identifying candidates to apply for future training. HopeLink has experience working at Cat Lake since the mid 1990¡¦s. In particular Erin Horvath, a McMaster student headed a HopeLink team, and saw the great needs there, and the significant suicide problem. Subsequently she spent 12 years as a youth leader in Cat Lake. She was so well appreciated that the community named a recreation facility in her name.

Lac des Mille First Nation

This community has faced significant challenges because of major floods in the 1980¡¦s that caused dispersion of the members throughout Northern Ontario, including a large number in the Thunder Bay area. They appreciate that the ACE-Quetico Centre is so close to where many members are located. They would like to coordinate a group of their students in one place in a more controlled and focused community environment. In this way they could participate, track and support their students towards more effective training resulting in graduation and future career placements.

Delivery and Management

1. What outcomes will the project achieve? How will the project be monitored and how will success be measured?

The project will achieve the following outcomes at a minimum:

  • Recruit and enroll 60 participants in the training to employment project
  • 100% of participants will participate in workplace skills and literacy training
  • 100% of participants will receive necessary interventions to upgrade basic literacy skills
  • 90% of participants will successfully complete all literacy and job skills training programs
  • 90% of participants will receive on-the-job training for mining or forestry career paths
  • 90% of participants will attain employable job skills and credentials
  • 90% of participants will receive employment opportunities
  • 85% of participants will remain employed six months after training
  • 85% of participants will remain employed 12 months after training
  • 90% of participants will rate high satisfaction with the training to employment program on intermittent surveys and an exit survey
  • 95% of employers will rate the training to employment program ¡§satisfactory¡¨ or higher on formative and exit surveys

    HopeLink will contract an experienced grant project manager to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for the full scope of the project cycle. The project manager¡¦s work will be supervised by the HopeLink Board of Directors.

    2. What is the project management structure? How does it support the project?

    HopeLink International¡¦s president, Robert Simpson, with the guidance of HopeLink¡¦s board of directors will provide management oversight for the project.

    Robert Simpson

  • Director of the ACE-Quetico Board
  • CEO and President of HopeLink International Corp.
  • Queen¡¦s Jubilee Gold Metal for work with Aboriginal Youth in Canada¡¦s North
  • Member of the Rotary Club of Brampton

    HopeLink International is required to submit an annual audit and the company retained to conduct this audit, McClurkin Ahier and Company, of Mississauga, Ontario, will be hired to audit project expenditures each quarter.

    Lucas Thacker of Ogilvy Renault is HopeLink¡¦s lawyer and will create and review legal documents including liability release forms and privacy policies.

    Other members of the HopeLink¡¦s Board of Directors will participate on the project advisory board:

    Goyce Kakegamic

  • Director of the ACE-Quetico Board
  • Past Deputy Grand Chief - Nishnawbe Aski Nation - 1997 - 2006
  • Accomplished Artist
  • Leader in Promoting Excellence in First Nations Education

    David Smith

  • Chairman of the ACE-Quetico Board
  • Honorary Doctorate Carleton University & Ottawa University
  • Member of The Order of Canada
  • Member of The Order of Ontario
  • Founded the David Smith Treatment Centre and Ottawa Tech in the Nation¡¦s Capital to address the needs for trade skill training that is a model of what is envisioned to take place across the province.

    Vic Prokopchuk

  • Director of the ACE-Quetico Board
  • Director, Atikokan Economic Development Corp.
  • Chair, Atikokan General Hospital
  • Past Governor, Board of Governors of Confederation College, Thunder Bay
  • Fellow of Lakehead University, Thunder Bay
  • Life Member of the Canadian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (CIMM)
  • Entrepreneur of the Year (1992)

    Barry Thorvardson

  • Director of the ACE-Quetico Board
  • CEO Cybersolutions
  • Director of the Rotary Club of Brampton
  • Past Regional Director, Planning, Correctional Services Canada
  • Past Entrepreneur in several technology companies

    In addition, the advisory board will be comprised of representatives from partner employers, training organizations, First Nation communities, and local supporters. The Board will guide the day-to-day operations of the training to employment project, from recruitment and selection of participants to monitoring and supporting graduates during the first year of employment. The above description of partner expertise and past experiences attest to a high level of ability to successfully implement this project. Grant management, data collection, and reporting deliverables will be contracted to Patricia Pates; her educational background includes a Master of Arts degree in Education Administration and post-graduate Specialist degree in Education with concentrations in Student Development and Counseling Psychology; and over 10 years of experience managing a grants portfolio (over $8 million) of government, corporate and private foundation funding. The project grant manager will ensure compliance with all audit and reporting requirements.

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