New NSCC program for First Nations students

New program will allow aboriginal students to enter health-care professions.

The NSCC Strait Area Campus will soon expand one of its current programs by offering it exclusively in the Cape Breton Mi'kmaq community of Waycobah.

The Continuing Care Assistant program is a tuition-free, 35-week program open to 20 aboriginal students who are committed to working in the health-care sector.

Tom Gund, the principal of the Strait Area Campus, says Mi'kmaq leaders of Waycobah first approached the college with a desire for the program. The leaders wanted a program that would encourage members of their community to build careers in the health-care profession, especially since there often aren't enough support workers to take care of elders.

"Our experience shows us that community-based programs are often more successful for Mi'kmaq students," he said.

"We are excited about this new offering and are working hard to ensure student success."

Gund said the program is still not full. Those who qualify and are accepted will begin classes in April in a Waycobah band building.

"Having this type of training in our community eliminates barriers of travel back and forth to campus," says Waycobah First Nation councillor Manuel Googoo.

"I expect students that are participating to be empowered and to see there are lots of careers available to them and I hope this is the first of many partnerships available to aboriginal people to get them into the workforce."

Once students graduate from the program and are licensed by the Continuing Care Association of Nova Scotia, they will be able to work in nursing homes, hospitals and community settings.

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