Free digital communications program launched for Indigenous learners

By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – A new program offering Indigenous people a free six-month crash course in digital marketing has launched as a partnership between the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Calgary-based anti-poverty non-profit Momentum.  

The Digital Dreamers (Pa’ pai tapiiksi) Training Program is intended to blend Indigenous values and culture with rigorous training in the latest tech trends. The Blackfoot name literally translates to ‘dream beings.’ 

“What we’re doing is finding the parallels between Indigenous storytelling and oral traditions and Western ways of storytelling, finding out how they complement each other to be successful in digital marketing and communications, and telling stories in a way that fits the Western ways of knowing, but also stays true to ourselves as Indigenous people,” Kymowyn Sugar, Momentum’s Indigenous skills training facilitator, told Alberta Native News

The program is divided into three components, explained Sugar, who is a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree Woman) from Piapot First Nation in Treaty 4 Territory. 

For the first part, participants spend 11 weeks with Momentum, sharpening their “creative and promotional writing” abilities, as well as training in Microsoft 365, resume writing, drop search success, and how to create a personal employment portfolio, she said.

The next component brings participants to SAIT, where they receive tech training in industry-focused courses, such as user experience and user interface design, which Sugar said will help students “create visual design that’s efficiently operational on a website.” 

There are also two levels of courses in Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator, but digital marketing analytics is perhaps the most crucial aspect of the course because those jobs are in such high demand. 

“When someone becomes a social media specialist, they have to be able to read what their data is so that they are able to reach the audiences that they’re actually targeting, whatever field that they go into,” Sugar said. 

“For example, if someone’s passionate about climate change, they can go work for a company that’s working towards helping the planet and become a digital marketer for them.”

The final program component is a month-long workplace placement. 

“One of our goals is actually to pair with employers who are also on their journey towards truth and reconciliation, so that we’re sending them into workplaces that are safe, where they understand what we go through as Indigenous people, and there’s that base understanding of who we are. And they’re in a place where there’s not going to be potentially more harm done by institutions, which is something that we’re quite aware of,” Sugar explained. 

The program is open to self-identifying First Nation, Metis and Inuit people between the ages of 18 and 40 who live in Treaty 7 or Metis Region 3 territory and are unemployed or underemployed. 

“We’re all very connected across Turtle Islands, so we wanted to be able to build off of the strength that we already have and help people make a career out of being on social media,” said Sugar.How cool is that?”  

Those looking for more information on the program, which begins Sept. 19, can contact Sugar at 403-561-6679 or via email at [email protected].

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