Assiniboine provides health care aide training in Waywayseecappo | Assiniboine Community College
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Assiniboine provides health care aide training in Waywayseecappo

Assiniboine provides health care aide training in Waywayseecappo

Written On: 25 March, 2019
Category: Academic Contract Training Indigenous Community
Related programs:  Comprehensive Health Care Aide

First Nations students take classes while still living in their community

Fifteen students from Waywayseecappo First Nation have entered the final phase of their training to be health care aides, while continuing to live in their home community.

They will soon complete the practicum portion of the Indigenous Comprehensive Health Care Aide certificate program in health care facilities that are operated by Prairie Mountain Health. They completed a previous four-week practicum in January and early February.

Assiniboine Community College has been delivering the program in Waywayseecappo, in partnership with the First Nation’s Education Department, since September of last year.

“I'm very grateful to Assiniboine Community College for bringing this course into our community. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to further my education,” said Niki Sprenkle, a 39-year-old adult student from Waywayseecappo and the mother of eight children from the ages of five to 20. 

“Niki has a wonderful sense of humor and is always putting a smile on everyone's face,” said program instructor Arlene Griffiths. 

The Indigenous Comprehensive Health Care Aide Certificate program leads to a high demand career on its own, or it can be used as a starting point to launch individuals into further study toward careers in the health career field. 

Waywayseecappo First Nation is about 150 km northwest of Brandon.

Delivering the program in the students’ home community greatly increases the likelihood of academic success, Waywayseecappo Chief Murray Clearsky said.

"We have researched what has worked in other communities. In our region, the CHCA program that was funded and ran in Rolling River last year achieved good results. We feel that the likely reason for this was the location in the community, and the additional resources that the college is able to put into a project such as this that support our students,” said Chief Clearsky. 

“Our community is committed to integrating our culture and knowledge into all areas of our operations. Assiniboine has a solid plan to ensure that this happens in these programs,” he added.

The Comprehensive Health Care Aide certificate program is responsive to high labour market demand throughout rural Manitoba, including First Nations communities served by the regional health authority, Prairie Mountain Health. Graduates of this program will be prepared to start their careers throughout Manitoba. 

Penny Gilson, chief executive officer of Prairie Mountain Health, said supporting educational opportunities within or close to the region has been a successful strategy in increasing and retaining the number of health care professionals in the region.

“Prairie Mountain Health has been very active in supporting practicum experiences for students. Prairie Mountain Health will work with Assiniboine to accommodate practicum placements for the students who will be enrolled in this training initiative. Practicum placements can occur in many sites in the region, and we will accommodate students as close to the education site as possible,” Gilson said.

Waywayseecappo First Nation has stated there is a need for a cohort of trained health care aides to complement their plans for the development of a community Elders home in the future. In addition, the Waywayseecappo Health Department utilizes Health Care Aides in a number of its programs.

In addition to program instructors, the community-based model for this program includes a job coach, who supports students throughout the length of the program and helps graduates transition to the workforce. An education assistant supports students in studying and completing assignments.

Elders and Knowledge Keepers offer support and motivation to those students who seek them. The Elders and Knowledge Keepers are also part of the Indigenous cultural content that is infused into the curriculum and program delivery, through consultation with the partner communities. 

“Infusing Indigenous cultural content in our curriculum and program delivery demonstrates to our students that we are respecting and reflecting their culture and history. That makes the program more relevant and meaningful to them,” said Lorraine Johnson, the college’s chairperson of contract training. 

Partners in the program include: 

  • Indigenous Services Canada, Post-Secondary Partnership Program;
  • Education Department (Post-Secondary) of Waywayseecappo First Nation.

In recent years, Waywayseecappo First Nation and Assiniboine Community College have collaborated in the delivery of a number of programs, including Education Assistant Certificate and Applied Building Construction. This spring, this partnership will include two cohorts of the Emergency Medical Responder program. In 2017, Waywayseecappo offered courses in Heavy Equipment Operator and Security Guard in partnership with Assiniboine. 

Photo: Niki Sprenkle, a student in the Indigenous Comprehensive Health Care Aide certificate program being delivered by Assiniboine Community College in Waywayseecappo First Nation.