Empowering Indigenous Futures

April 2, 2024 The Sharing Circle

Unleashing Potential through the Wake the Warrior Program’s Holistic Journey to Career Mastery

From Indigenous engagement services to recruiting to training, I have had many experiences engaging with communities and their members in some work-related capacity. With these years of experience, there were things I noticed that were consistent across communities that I visited and the individuals we worked with. Alongside my own findings, there is the ongoing conversation around economic development initiatives for Indigenous people and supporting the job search.

There are clear needs like access to education and opportunities, but there are some underlying factors we discovered when it comes to success in these programs and overall retention in their new jobs. While training programs and career connections are amazing, some may not have the foundation or be in the right mindset to pursue and find success with these opportunities. One area we saw a gap was in individuals’ understanding of their own strengths, values, and interests. These three areas can have a huge impact on not only career success but also career satisfaction.  These areas can be impacted by their sense of self, connection to culture, and what they have had access to growing up.

Typical programming can involve one off sessions focusing on specific areas. While these can be impactful, we found that creating a well-rounded program gave participants the necessary tools to build upon their skills and continue to grow post-workshop. This is how the Wake the Warrior program was designed. I’m going to walk through the three stages, their purpose, and the outcomes participants will achieve.

Building the Foundation for the Job Search

Participant of Level 1 of the job search program.

Participant of the Level 1 series of the Wake the Warrior program.

When participants come into our workshop, we understand that everyone is starting at different levels. This is why, rather than jumping right into work readiness, we focus on interpersonal skills, core beliefs and connecting to culture. The takeaways are not only beneficial for the workplace but also for their personal life.

When it comes to building the foundation for your career journey, we focus on taking a holistic approach. Looking at the medicine wheel, each quadrant represents the 4 stages of being.  Ensuring all four of these areas are tended to will support in finding balance in your life.

Spiritual Taking time to connect with your spiritual practices and Creator
Ex. Ceremonies, smudging, prayer, nature
Mental Focusing on your own growth and progression
Ex. Reflection, mindfulness, goal setting
Emotional Recognizing your needs and finding ways to express and tend to your emotions
Ex. Gratitude, community, friendship
Physical Maintaining physical wellness to feel energizing and healthy
Ex. Rest, exercise, nutrition


Understanding Values and How They Show Up in the Workplace

Core beliefs tie back into a person’s values and how they motivate themselves on a day-to-day basis. Finding an understanding of these beliefs and focusing on turning negative beliefs into positives can have a great impact on an individual’s confidence. Building motivation and confidence is a game changer when it comes to success in the job search and workplace.

Through building a foundation rooted in an individual’s natural strengths and abilities they will be better suited to find success in ways that are fulfilling to their needs.

Setting Expectations and Soft Skills

Preparing for the job search with life skills workshops.

Grassy Narrows Life Skills Week.

Soft skills are traits or abilities that allow an individual to interact with others in a productive and healthy way. In comparison to hard skills, soft skills are transferable in between jobs and are important in and outside the workplace. Having strong soft skills like time management, communication, and work ethic can make you stand out in a group of potential candidates.

For example, if you are applying for a position as a heavy equipment operator, you can assume that any candidate applying would have prior training and experience operating heavy equipment. If the hiring team must decide between individuals with similar hard skills, they will have to consider who makes the best team player – and this is where the soft skills come in.

As we work with individuals on their journey to their next career, this stage is all about building these soft skills and outlining employer expectations. Like the first stage, their connection to culture is something they can carry through this journey. When it comes to soft skills, we can draw connections between them and the 7 Sacred teachings. Job seekers can use these teachings to help guide them in their decision-making and how they show up in the workplace.

Getting Job Search Ready

Now that individuals are feeling motivated and in the right mindset, they will move to the job search. This stage is all about gathering the right tools and tips. Preparing candidates with a list of their interests, and an understanding of their skills will assist in understanding job eligibility. This will help them to focus on where they submit applications.

During this stage, our team will support with tools needed for the job search, resume preparation and interview practice. Getting a call for an interview is exciting but can be nerve wracking! We are here to support and provide feedback in real time to ensure you nail the interview.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve offered these work readiness and job preparation workshops to job seekers across Ontario. The addition of wellbeing workshops brings a more holistic approach that addresses the needs of individuals we are working with. The Wake the Warrior program is about building confidence, supporting job seekers in finding direction, and preparing them with a toolkit that will lead to success..

If this sounds like a program suitable for your community, reach out today to learn more.

Let’s work. Together.