Developing Self-Esteem in Youth Through School Entrepreneurship
For some years now, special needs students of Wemotaci’s Nikanik Secondary School have had the opportunity to participate in a program called « Les deux lois de la réussite », (The two rules of success) which draws on the example of PCR (perseverance + competence = réussite (success) developed in the Algonquin community of Lac Simon. Following is an overview of this inspiring project.
The Director of Nikanik Secondary School, Mr. Pascal Sasseville-Quoquochi explains that in order to take part in the program, youths must commit to respect two rules, which consist in being present at 95 % of their courses and maintaining a high level of participation in the activities. If those two conditions are met and the youths have raised a sufficient amount of money through their entrepreneurial projects, they can participate in an engagement activity that is organized to reward them.
Young people take part in several entrepreneurial projects throughout the school year. Every year, in the fall, the logging company Remabec, comes to the community to deliver one or two truckloads of free-length wood. The youths, who have been previously trained in tree felling in La Tuque, cut and split the wood for firewood that will be sold in cords to the community members. On another note, a catering service is also available in the community to cater to general assemblies and events being held. Recently, the youths had the opportunity to prepare the food that was served to the participants of Challenge Blanc during its recent visit to Wemotaci. Monies raised during this event allowed the youths to go alpine skiing in La Tuque. One other project is taking place in the fall and in the spring, whereby the young people offer tire change services to the population.
On another issue, young participants in the Pre-work Training Program (PTP) have begun assembling and building a cultural gathering place behind the school, which includes a shaputuan, a teepee and two sweat lodges. And finally, a platform to be used as a stage for the presentation of shows at the end of the school year will be built in a near future. All these facilities are being used by the two schools of Wemotaci, but they are also at the disposal of the population. Mr. Sasseville-Quoquochi wishes that eventually young participants of the entrepreneurship program will use their special site and share it with other young people from all over and experience activities that are related to the six Atikamekw seasons.
The Objectives of the Program
At the moment, there are 25 to 30 young people who participate in the ‘Two Rules of Success’ Program. They are students registered in the Pre-work Training and Training for a Semi-skilled Trade Program (FPTMSS) and who are struggling with significant personal issues and learning disabilities. Through this program, the school administrators aim to improve student retention among these young people who have a high absenteeism rate. Mr. Sasseville-Quoquochi further emphasizes that this program was put in place so that young people feel useful in their community. In Wemotaci, there is a high rate of social assistance and he would like to see that number drop. To succeed in this optic, it is essential that young people feel useful, because when a person feels useful in a society, it is able to help people and offer services that will enhance people’s quality of life. Entrepreneurship thus becomes a tool that can be used to convey community values to young people. The activities in which they are involved help build their self-esteem so that, later on, they contribute to the wellbeing of their community. And if, by the same token these activities spark a professional interest amongst the young people, it will be even better. Another of the program’s objectives is to empower young people as much as possible. With this in mind, collaboration has been established with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) to eventually offer driving courses at the school. With a driver’s licence in hand, young people will no longer be reliant on others to move around and this will also raise their accessibility to jobs.
In conclusion, the PCR model implemented in Wemotaci illustrates that entrepreneurship can have much broader goals than the fact of creating jobs. In fact, it’s a tool to develop and empower our youths so they become better persons.
If School Entrepreneurship is of interest to you, if you would like to implement the PCR model in your community…
There is an information kit that was developed two years ago by the Amik-Wiche school of Lac Simon and the Wemotaci Secondary School, in collaboration with the Centre d’innovation des Premiers Peuples et l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR). In fact, it is the UQTR that created the canvas, based on experiences lived out in Lac Simon and Wemotaci. This kit was developed with the goal of empowering the communities that would be interested in implementing the PCR Program. For more information, please visit: https://www.ctreq.qc.ca/realisation/modele-pcr/.
Further information on the community and the “Conseil des Atikamekw de Wemotaci” can be found at wemotaci.com.