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Building careers in the North

40 presenters at this year's Linx conference

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 07/01) - Career development was a big topic on everyone's lips at a conference held at the Yellowknife Inn this week.

The annual Career Development Linx 2001 Conference brought educators and career counsellors from all over the North to hear government and private sector initiatives getting more people to work.

There were 41 presenters at the conference Dec. 3-5, and 27 workshops all focused on boosting the North's career potential.

"Careers are becoming our focus," said Education, Culture, and Employment Minister Jake Ootes. "We want to make sure people in the North are getting the jobs that are out there."

Stu Conger, president of the Canadian Counselling Association and keynote speaker at the conference, made example of the difficulties musicians and comedians face in establishing careers.

He said these less-travelled career paths show that some people will do anything to fulfil their dreams.

"They have to work hard, triumph over tragedy," said Conger.

"It's a great human interest story."

"Comedians highlight the stupid things that interest us... What we want to do is show the idea of struggle to accomplish goals."

Beverly Mitchell, from Aklavik, made a presentation on the Deadly National Narrative: The "Killer" Stories We Tell Ourselves.

"Information has been ripped away from us," said Mitchell.

"People have to know that they're being told a lie."

She argued that a great deal of the troubles First Nations face today rests with the communication practices utilized by Western culture, which disseminates from the top down -- or from a metropolis to the community.

Contrary to the assumption that cultural influences in North America have been uni-directional, Mitchell said First Nations had an enormous impact on Western culture but it is rarely acknowledged.

"It's an illusion fostered on us," said Mitchell.

She made note of First Nations' influence over farming techniques, music and travel.

At Monday's Cracker Barrel workshop Jamie Mackenzie was showing off a Smart Communities project developed by Genesis Group.

The Web site workboot.ca is an online job site that will open in June.

"We want to cater it more to the person who is looking for work in hospitality, mining, and industry," said Mackenzie.

"The majority of the workforce here accept Yellowknife, are in the trades."

Laura Aubrey, from Aurora College's Thebacha campus in Fort Smith, was pitching cultural interactive games via CD-ROM.

"There's nothing that exists out there where kids on CD-ROM can learn games like the high kick," said Aubrey.

Six students from P.W. Kaeser high school in Fort Smith designed the computerized games.

Aubrey said the idea is twofold: to promote Northern culture, and to encourage aboriginal students to get involved in more technology-based careers.

"I'm really hoping the communities will empower themselves to do this project themselves," said Aubrey.