By L.C. Stanley

So you are working for your community and have some specific skills – but now your kids want to go to a higher-learning institution situate in a non-native community. You would like to move your family and are pretty sure you have the experience required to obtain a job ‘off the res’.

Great – but do you have the certifications required by ‘non-res’ employers? Depending on the job, state and/or provincial requirements may be necessary and these were not required to work ‘on the res’.

At Standing Rock, 41% of citizens live in poverty. That is almost three times the national average. The reservation’s basic infrastructure is chronically underfunded. Schools are failing. Jobs are few and far between, and 24% of reservation residents are unemployed. Healthcare is inadequate. Many depend on unsafe wells for water. Roads are often unpaved. Housing is in short supply, substandard and overcrowded.

Unfortunately this is not unusual – many reservations in both the USA and Canada experience the same situations.

BUT, as always, there are exceptions and these successes encourage all of us to keep moving forward – Never, Ever Give Up.

Just this week I met two middle aged men who live on their reserve. These men are trained GIC mapping photographer, pilot, drone specialists and computer technician.

There are many of these individuals, but not a lot in any one location and many of them work for their community – and are not available for employment off reserve.

The ‘bubble’ of reservations, with no ‘on job experience’ opportunities, with little or no exposure to a variety of careers and no one to provide ‘real’ work skills, make it very difficult for young people to know if they are on the right path for a career of their choice.

How do we get our youth the experience, the information they need to make appropriate decisions?

Bringing Indigenous workers in careers of interest to our youth to visit our communities – not just schools – to talk about what some of theses careers actually involve – MAY help bring bridges down to the bubbles of reservations.

How do we help our youth understand that the careers they see promoted on television, social media, et cetera are not the careers which will be available once they have finished high school and/or higher education learning?

How do we help our youth understand that competition for jobs is very high and many, like immigrants, come this country, very highly motivated to get the training required – they have everything to lose if they do not get the job for which they are looking?


L.C Stanley and colleagues are available for training and presentations on Career Development for Native People by contacting SAY Magazine – 1.866.485.2380.