Employees, management build strong team at unique QM Points orientation program
A comprehensive orientation program for prospective employees and management for the Gunnar reclamation project was held in June and July. 54 people participated in the programs that were held in Stony Rapids at the Water Front Inn and the A&L Building. Keewatin Community Development Association and Northlands College led instruction in topics such as a ready to work program, First AID/CPR, to workplace fairness, cultural diversity, and conflict resolution.
“The orientation program worked well to help build a strong team I think because of the content of the program, and also because it involved management as well as potential employees,” said Glen Strong, Program and Training Coordinator at Points Athabasca. “The sharing circles and activities gave everyone a chance to get to know each other and get to know different cultures, backgrounds and experiences. There were some very powerful and emotional moments that really helped people to understand one another and solidify the team.”
For example, one of the activities was to get to know your secret friend. When participants would first arrive, they had to draw a name, and that person became their secret friend. “You would observe them through the days, get to learn their characters,” says Strong. “Participants created a small tipi that depicted their secret friend’s character. We also did a medicine bag which held tobacco, sage, sweet grass and cedar. At the end, you would present your secret friend with their personalized tipi.”
Another unique aspect of the orientation program was the Sharing Circle, which was facilitated by Joan Strong from PAGC Education. During a sharing circle, each participant gets a chance to speak when it’s their turn with the talking stick. Participants can say whatever they want. These were often emotional. “Joan is so exceptionally good at running these,” says Strong of his wife. “She has a lot of experience running these in the past. The sharing circles were powerful and emotional, and it amazed me how much people participated and the stories they shared.”
Participants were also given the option to take part in cultural activities such as sweats. Gordon Ratt and MJ Ratt from Stanley Mission and Victor Echodh, Joe Renie and John Toutsaint from Black Lake are spiritual leaders who took part in the delivery of the cultural components. According to Strong, the participants feedback was extremely positive. “The participants really liked the approach,” he said. “Many of them said they would like to see the cultural portions and the sharing circles flow over into the workplace.”
Other funders for the training included PAGC Education (who provided funding, student allowance, steel-toed boots for the participants, and assistance with organizing the event), as well as Northern Career Quest and Northlands College.