A possible solution to unemployment in Hobbema

A Hobbema resident hopes to generate income for both herself and her community by removing one of the major barriers to employment

Waiting for new business: Clint Roan Sr. and business owner Angela Roan talk to visitors at the Maskwacis Job Fair at the Howard Buffalo Memorial Center on Wednesday

A Hobbema resident hopes to generate income for both herself and her community by removing one of the major barriers to employment in the area through a simple but creative project.

“I got this idea from my own experience as my two sons working in Nisku have a hard time getting to work,” said Angela Roan, who has recently completed a six-month entrepreneurship program.

“I had the idea last year, but after learning all of that (entrepreneurship courses), I could now bring it to fruition.”

Roan has a 15-passenger van and she is offering to carry workers from their home to work and back every day for a fixed fee.

“I am not getting funded from anywhere,” she said in response to the question if she was receiving any support in this endeavour.

“One of the biggest barriers to employment on the reserve is (lack of) transportation. So, what we do is to pick up people from their home and drive them to work.”

Roan said she was hopeful that through this business she could both help people find employment and make sure the money earned by the community stays in the community. She added that she had attracted a lot of interest from employers willing to hire First Nations workers at the Maskwacis Job Fair in Hobbema on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Moyra Kennedy of Alberta Works, who was at the job fair, agreed that the availability of a transport facility would be a major contribution to the efforts to raise the level of employment in the area.

The Hobbema area has been hit with a very high joblessness rate and dependence on social assistance with an estimated rate of unemployment running into 75 per cent.

Christina Aguilar Sanchez, employer liaison at the Maskwacis Employment Center Society, said 38 employers were registered for the fall edition of the Maskwacis Job Fair and all of the employers present with their stands at the Howard Buffalo Memorial Centre were willing to raise the number of First Nation employees among their workforce. She described it as a “satisfactory level” of participation on the part of employers.

Kennedy said the young workforce in Hobbema area had employable skills with a decent level of school education, skilled and semiskilled in a number of trades and the fair was a good platform for bringing together the demand for labor with job seekers.

Rob Pickton, Executive Director at KRP, an accounting firm, said they were at the Maskwacis Job fair for the first time and that they were trying to inform interested individuals on what kind of skills and education they need to get into the accounting profession.