Tag Archives: Indspire

“The key is education for Indigenous youths”

Indspire CEO says it’s time for Canadians to invest in the education of Indigenous youths.

Roberta Jamieson wants to make changes, and is more optimistic than ever that they’re on the right track. Continue reading “The key is education for Indigenous youths”

Business built on the virtues of Aboriginal professionals

Photo: Brenda LaRose receives 2015 Indspire business award.

Brenda LaRose encountered a lot of opposition to the recruiting idea that has made her a success today.
“I thought there could be a really good market for placing Aboriginal professionals,” she says, citing their tendency to continue their education throughout their careers, great speaking and leadership skills. Her employer at the time decided to let her test the theory, on the condition that she did it on her own time.
Once she got to work in the community, she ended up producing about one-third of the business’ revenue through her diversity recruitment efforts, which was primarily Aboriginal.
However, Brenda faced more resistance: because word got out in the Aboriginal community about what she was up to, people were spontaneously turning up at the recruiting firm, and her employer disapproved.
“They said ‘This is a professional executive search recruiting firm. You can’t have all these native people coming in here all the time,’” remembers Brenda.
Disgusted by the discrimination toward her community, Brenda embarked on her own, founding what has become a leader in Indigenous executive search services, Higgins International.
“It boomed,” says Brenda. “The Aboriginal community trusted me; we got a lot of good business, and word got out.”
Since 1999, Higgins International has become the frontrunner for placing ethnically diverse professionals in Canada at the board, senior management and executive levels. Its business consists of about 75 per cent diversity placement, and has successfully placed more diverse professionals across a broad range of sectors than any other firm in Canada.
While Higgins alone has an international presence, and a huge national one, it has recently partnered with the large firm Leaders & Co. to grow the business, and to benefit from its international brand recognition and trademarked search method.
“It’s very well-known right across Canada and the U.S.,” says Brenda. Leaders & Co.’s innovative approach is a “completely transparent search process where we give the report showing everyone we met with,” says Brenda. “We’re going to probably quadruple the business.”
It’s this business savvy and her incredible innovation in diversity recruitment that has earned the Metis Manitoban a national business award from Indspire.
“I never thought that I would ever get this award,” says Brenda. “I’m really going to enjoy it.” The award took Brenda to Calgary to accept the award at a televised awards ceremony.
Quadrupling her business might be one of Brenda’s lasting career legacies – though she is also devoting herself to many opportunities to mentor the next generation.
She was co-chair for this year’s inaugural SHEday, which had to change locations three times because it outgrew each space.
Since then, the co-creators have gotten many calls to branch out the event, but the founders are sticking to their guns.
“We’re not going to commercialize it,” says Brenda. “The whole idea was to make it affordable.”
The event was inspired by the inaccessibility of some of the leadership events she and her co-creators are regularly invited to attend. SHEday cost only $39 for a full day with lunch provided and an optional headshot opportunity.
On top of the SHEday event, Brenda is a founding board member of the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development, and will be the new chair of the Seven Oaks General Hospital.
“When you hit my age, it’s very important to start transitioning and mentoring and sharing,” says Brenda. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Make your scholarship last by meeting with the sponsor

By Benita Aalto

When First Nation business student Richard Cochrane received a scholarship through Indspire, he was happy just to get the funding he needed to help complete the last year of his degree.
To his surprise, however, the bank that sponsored the scholarship also contacted him directly, and invited him to speak with its Human Resources rep about internships at the bank.
“That conversation turned into the HR person saying, ‘Let’s do full-time instead,’” recalls Richard, who was hired to join the wholesale banking group, turning that introductory meeting into his first job.
The bank awarded him the scholarship through Indspire, the largest funder of Indigenous education outside the federal government. Richard had originally thought of the bank as a sponsor’s name on a scholarship, not as a potential employer.
Does turning a scholarship into a job sound too good – and too lucky – to be true? You might be surprised to learn that Richard’s experience is not unique. Many corporations see giving scholarships as a way of identifying and cultivating a potential employee, which is all the more reason for students to do their research and apply for a variety of scholarships. (See sidebar for more information on Indspire scholarships.)
Once your scholarship has netted you an internship, Richard has some advice for students looking to capitalize on the opportunity to work with their scholarship funder.

1. Assemble a team of mentors.
Find mentors in your office, the broader company, upper management and externally.
“The key is to find a diverse range of mentors who will offer different perspectives,” says Richard. “They will help you navigate through your daily problems and provide advice in a number of areas, for example: how to navigate office politics, write reports, make presentations, or plan your future.”
Don’t walk down the career path alone!

2. Make friends with someone in HR.
The Human Resources department can offer you lots of opportunities – and not just available positions within the company. For example, you can volunteer on behalf of the organization, attending events, speaking at local fundraisers, and making connections with the company’s community partners.

3. Create your brand early.
Develop an elevator pitch that tells people what you’re all about. “You could be known as the person who’s great at closing sales or building relationships,” says Richard. “Whatever it is that you do, do it well and make sure that people know it.”

Apply now! Scholarships and bursaries for
Indigenous post-secondary students
Visit indspire.ca/apply for information and to apply online.
Hurry! The next deadline is Nov.1.

Attention teachers, college grads and new teachers:
upcoming networking and learning opportunity

Are you an educator concerned about the needs of your Indigenous students? Whether you’re finishing your teaching education, just starting your career, or are an experienced educator, come meet your peers from across the country at the National Gathering for Indigenous Education on November 20 to 22 in Toronto, ON.
The conference is budget-friendly and features innovative practices, helpful workshops, a trade show, complimentary meals and much more!
Go to indspire.ca/national-gathering for registration info.

Indspire pairs Indigenous students with powerful mentors

By Benita Aalto

Many Indigenous students today are the first in their family to get a post-secondary education, and many go on to work in sectors and careers which lack strong Indigenous representation. Plus, many students experience uncertainty about such major life changes.
That’s where a mentor can be helpful.
A mentor is someone who can help a new graduate with career planning by offering their experience, insights and knowledge of the working world.
A mentor can be found informally – like talking to an older friend of the family who has a career that interests you – or through a structured program offered by a college or university guidance department, or a professional or trade organization.
However you find a mentor, here are three tips to help make the partnership work for you:
Decide what you want to learn from your mentor
Do you want to learn how to write a great resume, or ace a job interview? Do you want to make more contacts in a certain field or industry? Write a list of what you want and try to make it specific. Your goals may change over time but start with clear objectives.
Have regular check-in meetings
Meetings with your mentor can be over the phone, online, by Skype, or face-to-face. It’s a good idea to schedule a regular check-in session with your mentor, perhaps monthly. Come prepared with questions and be ready to report on your progress.
Work respectfully with your mentor
It is important to be respectful of your mentor’s time: if you can’t make a meeting or are going to be late, let your mentor know and offer them the option of rescheduling for another day. Also, be sure to follow up with their suggestions. For example, if your mentor gives you the email address of someone who might be helpful to you, send that person a note to introduce yourself and cc your mentor.
Indigenous post-secondary students and grads can benefit from a mentorship program that takes into account the different social and cultural challenges they face. Indspire offers the Rivers to Success: mentoring Indigenous Youth program to connect Indigenous students to mentors in a variety of fields. The registration deadline is Oct.1, and you can learn more at indspire.ca/rivers.

Teachers need mentors, too!

In an information-saturated world, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. It’s great to have an Internet’s worth of resources at your fingertips, but don’t pass up the chance to get face-time and support from a peer.
Indspire offers new teachers the chance to learn from experienced educators through its Peer Support: Educator Coaching program. Go to indspire.ca/peer-support for details.
Educators can also share best practices and network at the National Gathering for Indigenous Education this November 20 to 22 in Toronto. Learn more and register at indspire.ca/national-gathering.