Mentor Apprentice Program a MAP to success that others should follow


It’s no secret that many initiatives to improve life in the North have failed.

Whether because of a lack of human resources to keep them going, a lack of support from the necessary actors, or internal policies undermining efforts, there are enough stories of government failure to occupy all NWT news channels.

It is therefore a wonderful change to write about the Mentor Apprentice Program (MAP) which is in its third year of operation and continues to grow. The program has almost doubled in size, from 28 pairs last year to 47 this year, and many pairs are now within the same family, which only amplifies the time available to practice speaking . If the resources are able to stay in place, it’s unclear how far this program could go, but helping nearly 100 people recover their language every year is a breakneck pace.

As social planners in local, territorial and federal governments work to unravel the webs of colonization, programs like the MAP should serve as models to inspire people to become actively involved in cultural rehabilitation. It shows what can happen when governments come together with clear goals and simple objectives, instead of competing projects. And it shows how to make a program successful.

By making it a viable form of employment to learn and teach Indigenous languages, with the GNWT covering 100 hours of instruction and the Indigenous government related language learned covering the remaining 100, people are not just learning a language, but also help keep food on the table at the same time.

The Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation have repeatedly expressed interest in building capacity for the types of work their beneficiaries can undertake, which requires extensive training. The traditional Southern adult education model is to offer a loan – or a scholarship if you’re the right kind of student – ​​and send you on your way through academia, sink or swim. Questions such as where a student lives, how they eat, and how they cover their bills while being a full-time student are left to them.

For a northerner attending a major university for the first time, say the University of Alberta, it’s not just the above, but also the difference in size between southern population centers . Finding your way through a convoluted public transport system, or driving a strange new network of roads, is an education in itself.

Of course, this means that most people who go south for technical or academic training will have to find a job to cover these expenses. Factoring in the travel costs of moving south and the thought of going to school only becomes an opportunity for the select few who can count on the financial support of family members.

A model like the MAP program could help bridge the gap for many northerners to take the academic leap. Removing some of the financial strain from the equation could make the rest much closer to what is achievable for middle-class and low-income families. It could give young adults who feel trapped in the North a chance to explore the world and grow. Who knows what creative ideas they might come back with?

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