Indigenous women with disabilities face many barriers to employment. Irene Compton, Employment & Cultural Units Manager at Minwaashin Lodge says that she starts with employers committed to inclusivity to help her clients find jobs.
1. Tell us about your organization.
- Minwaashin Lodge is an Indigenous agency that provides a range of programs and services in English and French to First Nation, Inuit and Métis women who are survivors of domestic and other forms of violence. Most of the women are dealing with the intergenerational impacts of the residential school system. This means that their mothers or grandmothers went to residential school and as a result are healing from inter-generational trauma.
- All programs and services are provided in the context of cultural beliefs and values to ensure a holistic approach is used as part of the healing journey.
- The Employment Readiness Program is a traditional, Indigenous program to assist women to find meaningful work and/or training. Women are encouraged to share their dreams and become part of a strong, supportive circle of women.
- The program is focused on job readiness supports that include cultural and traditional support in preparation for interviews, resume writing, confidence building, interview prep and coaching, identifying gifts & skills and work placement experience.
- Every year 30 individuals graduate. Many have found good jobs and others have gone back to school to become ready for the job market.
2. What types of job seekers with disabilities do you help find employment?
- Mental health issues, and often anxiety, are the most prevalent disability that we encounter amongst our clients to date.
- If a woman has a disability that requires specialized supports we often partner with other agencies to ensure that her needs are met.
- We focus on providing employment readiness and other wrap-around services to guarantee a woman’s success in achieving her employment and educational goals.
3. What services and supports can you provide to assist employers once they have hired someone with a disability?
- Our focus is on continuing to provide wrap-around programming for our clients – such as counselling and cultural programming – so that they can succeed in their lives and perform well on the job.
4. What are the top 3 misconceptions employers have about hiring indigenous persons with disabilities? Supplementary: What approaches can be used to address these misconceptions?
- Rather than elaborate on the misconceptions that employers might have about hiring indigenous persons with disabilities or discuss the approaches that could be used to address these misconceptions, Minwaashin employs a different strategy.
- They start with inclusive employers to find employment opportunities for their clients. Employers demonstrate their commitment to inclusion by completing an audit through Indigenous Works / Indigenous Careers which assesses and benchmarks readiness for inclusion and works with employers to shore up capacity, workplace performance and cultural competency.
- In this way, they are assured that the employers who hire graduates of their Employment Readiness Program will handle their clients, in the words of Irene Compton, ‘with kid gloves’.
We extend many thanks to Irene Compton, Employment and Culture Units Manager at Minwaashin Lodge for taking part in this interview. To find out more about Minwaashin Lodge visit https://www.minlodge.com/