Amber Abou

Kwadacha First Nation

Growing up, Amber Abou, a member of the Kwadacha First Nation (British Columbia, Canada), was often told, ‘Believe that you can succeed’. This phrase inspired her to enroll in the Aboriginal Community Career Employment Services Society (ACCESS) funded Office Administration Certificate program. “I knew that with the Office Administration Certificate program I’d be able to get steady employment with an organization that I had a connection to,” said Abou.

The program was offered at the Native Education College, an Indigenous Institute in Vancouver, British Columbia. Through her sister Abou discovered that ACCESS sponsors a variety of programs – Office Administration, trades training and apprenticeship opportunities, the BladeRunners program for at-risk-youth, health programs and even an upcoming Introduction to Film bootcamp. ACCESS also offers individual seat purchases for eligible applicants of Indigenous heritage.

Abou discovered that being in a smaller classroom operated and owned by the Aboriginal community created the setting she wanted and where she knew she could succeed. “You feel like you have a place, and everyone knows each other,” said Abou. She found that ACCESS offered ongoing support with funding for course materials and supplies, study and tutor support, computer lab access, skill assessments, and pre-employment and career counselling.

After graduation ACCESS helped Abou secure a one-month practicum placement as an Office Assistant at the Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society (VACFSS). “I wanted to give back to the place and people where I felt I belonged,” she explained. She was already familiar with VACFSS and its importance to the urban Aboriginal community from the eight years she had volunteered on their Youth Advisory Committee for Kids in Foster Care.

The work practicum successfully led to ongoing casual employment with the organization. She has since applied for a permanent position.