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“We are proud to be a partner in this important program, which gives Aboriginal youth the opportunity to pursue a challenging and rewarding career as a paramedic,” said Minister Eric Robinson, Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. “It also helps ensure first responders better reflect the community they serve, while creating a diverse workforce within the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.”
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Aboriginal youth to receive instruction in an exciting field where demand for new recruits continues to increase,” said Mayor Sam Katz. “Once trained, the graduates of this program will be ready to take on a challenging and rewarding career, and it is my hope that they will become role models for other youth in the community.”
Through the coordination of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the City’s Aboriginal Relations Division, a number of community partners came together to fund and support this important training initiative including Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak (the City of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Youth Strategy), the Province of Manitoba (Aboriginal and Northern Affairs), the Manitoba Metis Federation, Centre for Aboriginal Human Resources and First Peoples Development, and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
“This program represents a superb and unique partnership where everybody wins,” said William Clark, Acting Chief, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service. “It is a significant opportunity for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and we are honoured to be able to participate with the various partners in such a great educational opportunity for Aboriginal youth.”
16 Aboriginal youth between the ages of 18 and 30 are enrolled in the eight month program which is currently in its fifth week. Students will spend 777 hours in the classroom, 288 hours shadowing Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service paramedics, 60 hours at clinical sites such as emergency rooms and the Main Street Project and another 28 hours completing related courses.
A snapshot of the 2011 paramedic workforce shows 14 of 269 paramedics are Aboriginal, which represents just over five per cent of the paramedic workforce. The Labour Market Availability for Aboriginal people in this occupation is 11 per cent.
This collaborative Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Primary Care Paramedic training program meets the same requirements as all other primary care paramedic training courses in Manitoba. All students who complete the training will be on an even playing field with other eligible candidates to compete successfully for positions with the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service.
Since its inception and growth as a program in the Community Services Department, Oshki Annishinabe Nigaaniwak (OAN), the City of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Youth Strategy, has become a pillar of community development within the civic structure.OAN supports young urban Aboriginals in seeking and achieving educational and professional development and employment opportunities, both within the program and in the wider community.