GDI expands training capacity in La Loche
- EFN Staff | September 21, 2017
Growth and expansion are the words that fill the meeting rooms at the Gabriel Dumont Institute these days. An exciting new expansion project is nearing completion in the Northern community of La Loche, Saskatchewan.
This is the first time in the 37-year history of the institute that GDI has received capital funding to increase its capacity in delivering culturally-appropriate skills programming.
The federal funding is allocated through the Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, and is intended to enhance and modernize research facilities on campuses across the country and improve the environmental sustainability of those facilities. The Strategic Investment Fund administered through the Provincial Advanced Education Employment and Labour Ministry has created the opportunity to add significant classroom space and a new skills development area that will allow for practical programming in trades driven areas like construction and scaffolding.
Vice Chair for GDI, Glenn Pratt, is encouraged to see efforts made to support education outcomes in Northern Saskatchewan. “The Gabriel Dumont Institute has provided 445 adult basic education seats in La Loche since 2010. As a result of the federal funding, an improved and expanded GDI La Loche Centre will provide capacity for increased enrolment in employer-driven skills training programs, helping the Institute to fully meet its skills and training mandate in the community of La Loche.”
Research Coordinator James Oloo attributes the success in acquiring the funding to other fundraising initiatives GDI participated in. “The Veterans monument for example was an opportunity for us to learn a lot about what is possible, how to endure the process and see through to a final result.”
Over a decade ago GDI became the only post secondary institute to take up permanent residence with a campus in the La Loche. Located right in the heart of the community, the GDI building has undergone several renovation projects to transform and repurpose the old RCMP barracks into a centre of learning. Cory McDougall Director of Finance and Operations for GDI comments that “We are committed to being a beacon for the community in providing a place where individuals can feel good about who they are and the quality of learning that they are receiving through our programs and services.”
The expansion project contributed to many positive spin-off outcomes for the community as well in the areas of sourcing local contractors to execute on aspects of the build. GDI also utilized a construction worker preparation program that allowed for training to be delivered to prepare local people in the project. “A number of our students were able to take part in this project, contributing to a real sense of community pride in this initiative,” added McDougall.
The GDI team works closely with industry to determine relevant programming based on actual market needs. Over the past two years, the GDI La Loche Centre has had a total enrolment of 146 (97 in Adult Basic Education and 20 in various skills training programs including two clients in the GDI Aboriginal Apprenticeship Project). During the same period, the Institute funded 80 Métis people in La Loche to enable them get knowledge and skills that would make them more competitive whether they transition to higher education or the labour market. Among the funded clients, 30 got jobs, 27 went for further education, and two started their own businesses.
The La Loche expansion is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017 with programming to begin in full swing January 2018. A complete list of program offerings will be posted in the GDI website. “We have already started our fall season for Adult Basic Education off-site and are excited to move further into stable additional programming in the New Year,” said McDougall
The expansions won’t stop there. GDI continues to grow its footprint in Saskatchewan. The institute recently received positive support for zoning changes from the City of Saskatoon to begin the process of creating a state of the art Centre of Excellence. “We keep in mind to remember where we’ve come from as a learning institution and remain humble as we grow into the future,” said McDougall.