Becky Scott isn’t a new face in Slave Lake, but she has a new job. She is the employment counsellor and job coach with Rupertsland Institute in Slave Lake.
“I have lived in Slave Lake going on 34 years,” she says. “I have worn many hats in the community.”
These include owning two food kiosks in the mall, working at the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre, and at Northern Lakes College.
Of her new job she says, “I’m here to help Métis people become productive social people. I love working with people. I’ve always been on the front line working with people. I like to see people succeed. If I can help them with those steps, I feel good.”
Scott is trained as a social worker and has experience with the Slave Lake labour market, as an employer and the transition to employment coordinator at the Friendship Centre.
“The labour market has been up and down through the years,” Scott says. “Right now it’s down,” but with two new pipelines in the area she hopes it is improving. For example, the formerly closed Wabasca hotels are open and hiring.
Scott has a job board on her wall, which she updates every few weeks.
As of March 3, about 60 per cent of the job openings were in hospitality, truck drivers are always needed because of forestry, and there were lots of job postings in healthcare.
Rupertsland Institute is connected with the Métis Nation of Alberta. It focuses on training, education, and research. Scott’s job is in training.
Scott’s office is in the back hallway of the Slave Lake Northern Lakes College campus, across the small seating area from Slave Lake Adult Education. The former employment worker was part-time, but Scott works business hours Monday to Friday.
Scott can help anyone with their resume and job search. For Métis people, Rupertsland will pay for a one-year certificate, all four years of a trade, and the last year of a university or college program. She supports people in Slave Lake, Red Earth Creek, Wabasca, and Smith.
Rupertsland has an RV which goes to various communities in Alberta to provide information on all three focuses. This will be in Wabasca on March 24.
Rupertsland doesn’t go onto reserves or Métis settlements, Scott says, but “our people are more than welcome to come and see us. We encourage them to come and see us because there’s lots we can offer them.”
This year Rupertsland has a new program. It will pay either all or a portion of wages for non-profits and businesses to hire Métis students between the ages of 15 and 30 for six to 18 weeks.
Rupertsland has a proposed project to increase the number of trained forestry people.
As mentioned earlier, Scott has lived in Slave Lake for many years. She and her husband moved to Slave Lake from Medicine Hat around 34 years ago for work. Scott’s husband is a journeyman electrician and works in the oilfield. Their children went to school in Slave Lake, and now live in the area with their children.
“Living here has given us opportunities to do different things,” Scott says. “We love camping. We do camping and quadding. For fun, we do gold panning. We do competitions.”
Gold panning is a family affair, with everyone involved from Scott’s in-laws to her six grandchildren. Scott, her husband, and their youngest daughter are classified as professional gold panners in the competitions. They are members of the Alberta Gold Prospectors Association.
Competition panning for gold is 20 per cent skill and 80 per cent luck, Scott says.
Much of the panning is in British Columbia. In August 2021, they will be competing at the World Gold Panning Competition in Dawson City, Yukon. Each year, the family pans for gold in the Red Deer River near the hamlet of Elnora, north of the town of Three Hills, Alberta. This is five and a half hours southeast of Slave Lake.