The Cree Nation Government’s Apatisiiwin Skills Development (ASD) department supports the people of Eeyou Istchee through skills development, job readiness programs, and training now has a new director. Abel Trapper was recently hired as the new director to lead the department following the retirement of former director, Louisa Saganash.
Mr. Trapper is an active member in his home community of Mistissini and has been with ASD since 2001. Before being hired as Director on November 22, he first started in the organization as a Program Officer, then Coordinator of Territorial Programs and made his way up to Manager of Programs.
Trapper has been a local Band Councilor for the past three years and has been appointed to sit on many civic boards in areas such as housing, land management and economic development.
In his position as Director, Trapper says he will continue to maintain strong partnerships with key stakeholders such as the Cree School Board (CSB) and the Cree Board of Health and Social Services. (CBHSSJB). He will also be paying close attention to the employment needs outside our communities within the territory such as development projects.
As with many in today’s reality, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected employment and job opportunities in the Cree Nation and Trapper says it has highlighted a weakness in our work force.
“It really identified our lack of professionals and our dependency on the outside. Once the pandemic measures were implemented to keep our members safe, certain communities had to halt projects due to a lack of local skilled workers and professionals. It shows that we need to develop more. We need to do more in terms of providing support for those who want to enter into a skilled trade and to also have our own professionals.”
ASD’s biggest obstacle to developing a more skilled labor force are high dropout rates in our schools and, although he is glad to see that graduation rates are up in recent years, he looks forward to working with the Cree School Board through Apatisiiwin Skills Development’s youth programs to keep our kids in school, making them more employable in the future.
“As the new director I would like to see our nation have a fully qualified work force. That has always been my aim and part of our ambition is to help build that qualified work force in the Cree Nation. It’s going to take time but we’re there to serve everybody. Our people need to have the proper qualifications and find work that makes them proud to contribute to their nation.”