Am­ber Abou


Grow­ing up, Am­ber Abou, a mem­ber of the Kwadacha First Na­tion (Bri­tish Columbia, Canada), was of­ten told, ‘Be­lieve that you can suc­ceed’. This phrase in­spired her to en­roll in the Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity Ca­reer Em­ploy­ment Ser­vices So­ci­ety (AC­CESS) funded Of­fice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Cer­tifi­cate pro­gram. “I knew that with the Of­fice Ad­min­is­tra­tion Cer­tifi­cate pro­gram I’d be able to get steady em­ploy­ment with an or­ga­ni­za­tion that I had a con­nec­tion to,” said Abou.

The pro­gram was of­fered at the Na­tive Ed­u­ca­tion Col­lege, an Indige­nous In­sti­tute in Van­cou­ver, Bri­tish Columbia. Through her sis­ter Abou dis­cov­ered that AC­CESS spon­sors a va­ri­ety of pro­grams – Of­fice Ad­min­is­tra­tion, trades train­ing and ap­pren­tice­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties, the BladeRun­ners pro­gram for at-risk-youth, health pro­grams and even an up­com­ing In­tro­duc­tion to Film boot­camp. AC­CESS also of­fers in­di­vid­ual seat pur­chases for el­i­gi­ble ap­pli­cants of Indige­nous her­itage.

Abou dis­cov­ered that be­ing in a smaller class­room op­er­ated and owned by the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity cre­ated the set­ting she wanted and where she knew she could suc­ceed. “You feel like you have a place, and ev­ery­one knows each other,” said Abou. She found that AC­CESS of­fered on­go­ing sup­port with fund­ing for course ma­te­ri­als and sup­plies, study and tu­tor sup­port, com­puter lab ac­cess, skill as­sess­ments, and pre-em­ploy­ment and ca­reer coun­selling.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion AC­CESS helped Abou se­cure a one-month practicum place­ment as an Of­fice As­sis­tant at the Van­cou­ver Abo­rig­i­nal Child and Fam­ily Ser­vices So­ci­ety (VACFSS). “I wanted to give back to the place and peo­ple where I felt I be­longed,” she ex­plained. She was al­ready fa­mil­iar with VACFSS and its im­por­tance to the ur­ban Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity from the eight years she had vol­un­teered on their Youth Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee for Kids in Foster Care.

The work practicum suc­cess­fully led to on­go­ing ca­sual em­ploy­ment with the or­ga­ni­za­tion. She has since ap­plied for a per­ma­nent po­si­tion.

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