Indigenous learners get support with financial literacy and employability skills

The Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) is a leading Indigenous organization dedicated to working with partners from Indigenous communities, organizations, government and the private sector, to foster Indigenous economic development in New Brunswick. Founded in 1995, JEDI provides its clients with a variety of Indigenous entrepreneurship and workforce development services.

Tricia Chase is the Indigenous Adult Learning & Literacy Coordinator at JEDI. She came across ABC Life Literacy Canada online and discovered a variety of programming that was a fit for her Indigenous clientele. She signed up to run two programs through ABC Life Literacy Canada: Money Matters for Indigenous Peoples, a financial literacy program tailored for Indigenous learners; and UP Skills for Work, a soft skills and employability training program.

Money Matters consists of five topics, including Spending Plans, Banking Basics, Borrowing Money, Ways to Save, and Smart Shopping. Organizations can choose to run the core program, or Money Matters for Indigenous Peoples, which includes additional information and design elements to reflect the realities of Indigenous communities in Canada.

“I liked that the workbooks showcased Indigenous learners,” says Chase. “It was very easy to read and also easy to facilitate.”

Money Matters can be delivered by literacy practitioners or with the help of TD Bank Group volunteer-tutors. The program is entirely flexible and can be modified as needed. Money Matters was developed with support of founding sponsor, TD Bank Group through its corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment.

“I add my own activities to the workshops to make them more fun,” says Chase. “Our learners really like the activities portion of the workbooks. It allows them to see how the content applies to their real life. For example, with Money Matters, our learners never realized what they spent money on until they completed the budgeting activity and saw it on paper. It was a real eye-opener. They were amazed to see what they could have instead been saving.”

Chase typically goes into various communities to deliver the programming, which is done either with physical workbooks provided by ABC Life Literacy Canada, or online through the ABC Skills Hub, an online platform consisting of ABC Life Literacy’s various programs.

“Some communities that we work with will provide individuals with laptops, so we can do the courses online. But for those that don’t, we use the workbooks and put them on the projector for everyone to follow along with.”

Chase works with a lot of employment training offices, making UP Skills for Work an ideal program to run. UP Skills for Work helps learners develop key employability and life skills through free workshops and downloadable workbooks. The topics align with the Skills for Success model and include motivation, attitude, presentation, time management, and several others.

“The Creativity and Innovation workbook, as well as the Presentation workbook, were very popular topics,” says Chase. “When people aren’t working, they tend to attend classes in their sweats. When you explain to them that they’ll need to dress up more for an interview, it dawns on them that they need to put more effort into their presentation.”

Chase says that they took the program one step further and brought the learners to the mall to help them buy professional clothes with gift cards.

To learn more about ABC Life Literacy Canada’s programming, including Money Matters and UP Skills for Work, visit abclifeliteracy.ca.