Spotlight Story: ORIGIN’s Operation Innovation 2.0

June 24, 2024 In The News

In the spirit of fostering meaningful connections and creating pathways for success, we are proud to share a heartwarming success story from ORIGIN’s Operation Innovation 2.0 project. Launched in 2023, this initiative has been instrumental in providing valuable employment and training opportunities for Indigenous community members, thanks to the dedication and collaboration of our esteemed partners. 

Building upon our proven success with Operation Innovation (2017-2021), ORIGIN is taking a next-level approach to screening and recruitment for training to employment initiatives. 

The goal of Operation Innovation 2.0 is to screen, train and employ 178 Indigenous individuals using our innovative First People First approach along with our VR technology.  

Our tools are developed to allow job seekers to demonstrate aptitude and learned skills in virtual work environments, prior to investing into training.  Our VR-based, employment assessments are designed to ultimately, improve personal success for the job seeker and increased retention for employers. 

Highlighting Charmaine McCraw and Carlene Keeshig 

At the helm of this impactful project is Charmaine McCraw, the dedicated project manager whose vision and leadership have been pivotal to the project’s ongoing success. Working alongside her is one of our incredible partners, Carlene Keeshig. Carlene is the Special Projects Coordinator at Huronia Aboriginal Management Board (HAAMB). She brings years of experience in program coordination, specializing in developing industry partnerships through training and job placements.  

Charmaine McCraw (left), Kirkland Jones (center), and Carlene Keeshig (right).


Being part of Operation Innovation 2.0 has been an incredible journey. It’s inspiring to see how our collective efforts are opening doors for Indigenous community members, providing them with the skills and opportunities they need to succeed. Working on projects like these reminds me every day of the power of partnership and the impact we can make together.
Carlene Keeshig, Special Projects Coordinator, HAAMB 

While our team can manage the heavy lifting, partners like Carlene are essential in facilitating relationships with community. With this support, we continue to see interest grow in the project and opportunities we have available.  

Kirkland Jones: A Journey of Resilience and Achievement 

One of the standout stories from this project so far is that of Kirkland Jones, a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation. Kirkland’s journey is a testament to resilience and determination. As a single parent, he faced numerous life challenges but remained steadfast in his pursuit of a better future. 

Kirkland participated in ORIGIN’s Career Exploration Workshop, where he and other participants were assessed using market-leading simulators. These simulators provided foundational skills and upskilling opportunities in heavy equipment operations. Following the workshop, Kirkland enrolled in a comprehensive training program, successfully earning certifications for five heavy equipment machines. 

Participating in ORIGIN’s Career Exploration Workshop was a life-changing experience. As a single parent, it wasn’t always easy, but the support and training I received gave me the confidence to pursue my goals. Earning my certifications in heavy equipment operations has opened up new opportunities for me, and I’m proud to be setting an example for my community. Walking this path has shown me that we can overcome challenges and create a better future for ourselves and those who follow.
Kirkland Jones, Participant, Chippewas of Nawash First Nation 

Kirkland’s story is a remarkable example of walking the good path and understanding the significance of leaving footprints for others to follow. His achievements underscore the importance of our partners’ shared commitment to creating sustainable pathways for Indigenous community members. 

Kirkland showing off his new heavy equipment certifications.

The Power of Partnership

The success of Operation Innovation 2.0 is a collective effort. It exemplifies how our partners, with shared interests, can make a significant difference in the lives of Indigenous community members. Without the advocacy of our partners, we would not have had the opportunity to engage all the talented individuals who have participated thus far. The Operation Innovation project is continually seeking new partnerships to expand its reach and impact. 

Join Us in Making a Difference 

If you are interested in becoming a partner and contributing to this transformative initiative, we invite you to contact Charmaine McCraw for more details. Together, we can continue to create opportunities, foster growth, and build a brighter future for our communities. 

Let’s walk this path together and leave a legacy of empowerment and success for generations to come.

Contact Information: 

Charmaine McCraw 

Project Manager, ORIGIN’s Operation Innovation 2.0 | 807-356-2123

Operation Innovation Webpage