Digital marketing and communication course opportunity available for Indigenous learners

Friday, July 15th, 2022 8:52am


By Crystal St.Pierre
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new marketing and communications program for creative individuals is coming through a partnership between Momentum and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

“We are looking for people who are just naturally creative, that already enjoy being on social media and want to make a career out of it,” said Kymowyn Sugar, Indigenous skills training program facilitator at Momentum, a skills training organization that takes a social perspective to economic development and poverty reduction.

“Digital marketing is one of the top 10 in demand jobs right now.”

The Digital Dreamers (Pa’ pai tapiiksi) Training Program is currently taking applications for its first year starting in September. Pa’ pai tapiiksi means “dream beings” in the Blackfoot language.

The program is designed specifically for Indigenous learners interested in a career within the field of digital marketing and communications. It includes creative & promotional copywriting, social media management, understanding analytics, and web design.

Sugar said tuition to the program should be covered through government funding in conjunction with unemployment or under employment.

The 26-week full-time program begins with an in-house training portion, which is held at the Momentum facility for the first 11 weeks.

Sugar said this first portion is very important as students will begin with “soft skill” training.

Those 11 weeks are “almost more important than the actual technology training because we really want to teach our people how to be successful in the workplace,” said Sugar.

Within that time frame students will be learning effective communication skills, how to self-advocate, how to maintain self-care, English upgrading, creative writing, as well as they will be provided with some land base teachings.

Cultural teachings will be available, but not mandatory.

“We are not forcing cultural stuff on people. It’s at their own discretion if they want to participate. We understand that there are Indigenous people that don’t participate in traditional culture so it’s going to be an option for them.”

An Elder will be on site to offer advice and guidance to the students and traditional medicines will be available for smudging.

The next portion of the program will be 15 technical courses taken at SAIT’s facility. During this time students will be introduced to a variety of key programs, including Adobe InDesign and Illustrator. They will also learn how to create a positive user experience in relation to web design and how to maintain websites.

Following that, students will spend four weeks in a work placement. Sugar is currently seeking out businesses to be a part of the program.

“We have taken a different approach with this program than how Momentum has traditionally approached employment,” Sugar said. “We are actually starting to engage employers now that are on their journey towards truth and reconciliation so that we are sending our people into workspaces where they understand some of the unique barriers that we face as Indigenous people. So that our people are going into those spaces that are safe and they will be taken care of and understood in a way where they wouldn’t normally be understood in a traditional workplace.”

Momentum began its own journey with truth and reconciliation in 2016, said Sugar. At that time, it was decided programing would “pivot” from its more trade school courses to begin offering technology courses as well. During this time the facility also began incorporating a more inclusive style of teaching to allow the unique style of learning for Indigenous students.

“They’ve been developing the program, but they needed an Indigenous (facilitator) on board to co-develop it through an Indigenous lens,” explained Sugar.

Areas outlined that were needed to provide a successful environment included implementing an in-house Elder, classrooms with traditional seating and art, making an Elders’ room to provide space for emotional and spiritual support, as well as the importance of medicine being on-site if grounding is required by the students.

For more information visit Digital Marketing & Communications for Indigenous People - Momentum

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.