By Pamela Beebe
Poverty Reduction is not easy work. There are some really great days where collaborations are successful and where people from all backgrounds come together to create positive change. However, there are some days where the path to reducing poverty in Calgary comes with a roadblock. This is how it appears when opportunities for some people are not always the same opportunities as to others. There may be barriers to employment, both visible and not visible. If someone is able to overcome these obstacles, they must still pass the interview, background and reference check, then successfully show up “ready, able and willing to work”. These steps to employment are not always easy.
Recently, here in Calgary, there were many job fairs held by many places, including the City of Calgary, Aboriginal Futures, and the future construction of the Ring Road.
When at these job fairs, the thing that was most obvious was the hundreds of attendees all looking for their next job, their next opportunity. I witnessed some great information being shared on how to turn your hobby into a part time self-employment opportunity and how to find a part time job which has potential to help you attend courses as you move to full time employment. There were also many different training opportunities and many different employers.
The difficult part to observe was hearing people say as they left that no one wanted to see their resume or that the jobs were supposed to be for me or that the lines were too long. As we encounter roadblocks, we always have to remember that there is a path, it just may be that we have to go down a different direction. There’s some great work being done with many community organizations like Junior Achievement, Momentum and others that are helping people connect their passion and their strengths with the job they want to pursue.
It’s exciting to hear organizations speak about the barriers to employment and the solutions as they relate to transportation, childcare, background checks, references and how to overcome any obstacle. There are some great places addressing the multiple things that happen to someone and how it impacts their life, whether it’s happening to them directly or to a loved one close to them. Anyone in Calgary can call 211 if they need help with issues around employment.
Here at Vibrant Communities Calgary (VCC), our Indigenous Advisory Committee, works together to discuss what’s being done around the City and to work towards creating the changes we wish to see. We are a diverse group made up of people from different organizations from the non-profit sector, government and private, as well as being from different provinces and places. What we have in common though is that we all want to see people successful in their employment, education and their personal goals. If you are interested, you can view the list of organizations on our website www.enoughforall.ca and visit their websites to learn about the great initiatives being done. We have chosen to help by being part of Enough for All and all the work being done towards reducing poverty here in Calgary.
Pamela Beebe is an Indigenous Strategist at Vibrant Communities Calgary.