With nine career centres across the province (Creighton, La Ronge, Lloydminster, Meadow Lake, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Regina, Saskatoon, and Yorkton) and three campuses (Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon), SIIT is truly provincial in scope.

SIIT provides adult learners with academic, vocational and technical training as well as services and supports for employment and career growth. Indigenous learners are at the core of SIIT, representing more than 95 per cent of the student body.

Committed to student-focused, market-relevant programs and services in an Indigenous learning environment, SIIT creates work-ready achievers and role models who appreciate the value of learning now and in the future. One example of SIIT’s exciting programs is JobQuest, launched this fall at Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation.

At a time of physical isolation away from family and friends, many young people turn to online gaming as an important source of community and connection. It is with this in mind SIIT has created an essential skills program built on a quest-style gaming platform. Piloted with Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation, JobQuest is a 12-week program targeted to young adults who want to establish move-forward strategies that will help them cope with stress, grief and anxiety while preparing for education and employment success. Participants develop characters based on whom they want to become and work through challenges and problems to make that dream a reality.

Although the program has an online platform, it is the community-based grounding which has proven a key ingredient in the program’s success. Partnering with Makwa Saigaiehcan, participants began meeting in person in September to develop their characters and discuss the community-based project they planned to tackle together.

While much of the training takes place online, this culture of togetherness and the support of a community-based coordinator has made a significant difference.

“This supportive environment within community has had a huge impact on program retention”, explained Lisa Shingoose, VP – employment development and career services at SIIT. “Eleven of the 12 participants completed the program in early December. This is much higher than most traditionally formatted employment readiness programs.”

Designed to emulate a video game, participants are introduced to levels of difficulty, character development, roadblocks, and badges, all intended to build skills, foster resiliency, and reward commitment.

“All the modules from ‘Walking in Someone’s Shoes’ to ‘Making a Difference’ really helped me get by and learn about new ideas for my future,” stated JobQuest participant Evan Fineblanket. “Honestly, I don’t know where I would be if this program didn’t exist. It changed my life.”

Riel Bellegarde, president and CEO of SIIT, further explained, “Beyond personal growth and development, this program is designed to equip participants with the Mental Health First Aid tools necessary to navigate this time of uncertainty. Indigenous leaders throughout the province asked for a community-based approach to engaging youth. The program has proven one strategy to meet this request. On behalf of SIIT, I would like to thank Makwa Sahgaiehcan and the Meadow Lake Tribal Council for partnering on this pilot.”

Thanks to this successful pilot, SIIT already has five more offerings starting at other Saskatchewan First Nations in January and February.

Job Quest is only one of more than 40 programs offered by SIIT with everything from business administration and IT support specialist to aircraft maintenance engineering and Indigenous practical nursing.

More than one third of SIIT students complete their studies in their home communities.