English River First Nation
English River First Nation is investing in their student youth to ensure theirs will be a healthy and sustainable community. At the end of a rough road, the view opens onto a peninsula where first sight is of small older homes brightly painted, fenced and well kept. Elders sit on front porches and steps, enjoying a quiet sunny afternoon. Being three hours northwest of Meadow Lake requires some ingenuity when it comes to creating on-reserve employment. English River First Nation has developed an incentive program to encourage and reward academic performance with job opportunities. The Student Summer Employment Program was made possible with money from FNT. They find it results in all-round benefit to the community, encouraging students attending high school or post-secondary away from home to become role models for younger kids. The students who live away most of the year have jobs to come home to and can learn workplace skills in their traditional close knit community. A Student Employment Committee selects students based on various performance measures such as most improved student, or a combination of academic standing and demonstrated community leadership. A wide range of jobs are offered to those who wish to live and work at home during the summer break. Their contributions to the community include doing background research for proposals, providing recreational programs, working with the maintenance department doing repairs and upkeep of common areas and around the Church and memorial site. English River First Nation hopes to expand this program to the benefit of their student members who live away year-round and develop an urban student employment program in the future.