OAS, NWAC, and The Trust for the Americas join Forces to Empower Indigenous Communities through Digital Skills Training
Washington DC, June 21, 2023. – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), together with the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and The Trust for the Americas, announced the launch of the “Empowering Indigenous Peoples through Digital Skills Project”. This landmark initiative, unveiled during the week of the OAS General Assembly in Washington, D.C., aims to enhance the livelihoods and opportunities of Indigenous communities across Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta.
The meeting brought together important stakeholders, including the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), HE Luis Almagro, the Secretary for Hemispheric Affairs, Ambassador James Lambert, the Chief Executive Officer of the Native Women's Association of Canada Lynne Groulx, the Chief Executive Officer of The Trust for the Americas, Linda Eddleman, and the Special Advisor on Indigenous Affairs of the OAS, Daniel Cano.
As a prominent international organization dedicated to promoting democratic governance, human rights, and social and economic development in the Americas, the OAS plays a pivotal role in driving inclusive growth and sustainable development in the region. The Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC), a renowned national Indigenous organization with over 40 years of experience, contributed invaluable expertise to the discussions. NWAC has been at the forefront of advocating for social, economic, cultural, and political equality among Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ people, making them a key partner in the project. Their commitment to empowering Indigenous communities and promoting inclusivity aligns perfectly with the project's goals. The Trust for the Americas, an organization affiliated with the OAS, brings its expertise in fostering social and economic development to the project. With a track record of implementing innovative programs and establishing strategic partnerships, The Trust for the Americas is well-equipped to support the empowerment of vulnerable communities to drive sustainable change.
The “Empowering Indigenous Peoples through Digital Skills” Project will commence its 12-month implementation phase in October 2023, thanks to combined financial and in-kind contributions from Microsoft Philanthropies, NWAC, and The Trust for the Americas, underscoring the commitment of these stakeholders to advancing the digital skills and opportunities of indigenous populations.
The project's primary focus is to build digital skills and job readiness of individuals aged 16 and above, thereby facilitating their entry into the labor market and the digital economy. Through a combination of on-site and online training in digital and life skills, the project aims to create digital equity fostering equal access to livelihood opportunities.
Acknowledging the unique needs and characteristics of the Indigenous communities, the “Empowering Indigenous Peoples through Digital Skills” Project will incorporate a culturally sensitive approach, ensuring the project's activities are grounded in cultural awareness and respectful accompaniment.
Key objectives of the project include training 350 individuals aged 16 and over in digital and life skills, while also equipping 50 facilitators, community leaders, and elders with the necessary knowledge to replicate the training within their communities. By empowering these local leaders, the project aims to create a sustainable ripple effect of skill development and knowledge transfer.
The Trust for the Americas, in collaboration with NWAC, will curate a tailored selection of courses designed to meet the specific needs and desires of community. Leveraging the Microsoft Community Training (MCT) e-learning Platform, participants will have access to a range of courses, including Microsoft's Learning Pathways and Ernst & Young (EY) Future Skills Workshops. These courses will cover essential computer skills, project management, data content management, digital and financial literacy, entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, and workforce readiness.
Beyond skills development, the Empowering Indigenous Peoples through Digital Skills Project will facilitate access to employment opportunities and support the creation and development of entrepreneurship and businesses within the Indigenous communities. To ensure smooth implementation, The Trust for the Americas has conducted a comprehensive survey of NWAC's systems and technologies and has already provided Microsoft Office and Windows 11 licenses for all computers used in the skilling initiative.
The skilling activities are scheduled to commence in July 2023, with the first cohort of graduates expected to be announced by December 2023. This collaborative effort between the OAS, NWAC, and The Trust for the Americas represents a significant stride towards empowering Indigenous Peoples, fostering digital inclusion, and creating sustainable socio-economic growth within the targeted regions.
“This partnership and this project are important to NWAC on two fronts: it aligns with both our economic empowerment agenda and our ‘Go Global’ strategy - which aims to enhance the social, economic and cultural well-being of Indigenous women, girls, transgender, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people across Canada, the Americas and the world. With a mere 2.2% of Indigenous workers in the tech workforce, it is well beyond time to step up and fill in this unacceptable gap. Ending economic marginalization stands a fighting chance with concrete actions such as this digital skills project,” said Ms. Groulx.
“We are honored to be partnering with NWAC for the first time and continue our work with Microsoft with whom we have worked in over 20 countries over the past 2 decades. As The Trust celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2023 it continues to grow, impact and provide economic opportunities to vulnerable individuals in the western hemisphere. This will be our first project in Canada and we could not have wished for better partners in NWAC and Microsoft. Along with the OAS we look forward to bringing digital, entrepreneur and life skills to the Indigenous peoples in Canada and throughout the Americas,” said Linda Eddleman, CEO, The Trust for the Americas.
About The Trust for the Americas
The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS). Established in 1997 to promote public and private partnerships, The Trust is incorporated in the U.S. and has legal presence in Canada. The Trust has implemented projects in 27 countries and worked with over 1,000 organizations in the region. Our initiatives seek to promote educational and economic opportunities as well as government accountability and transparency. Through the evolution of our region, The Trust continues to endure by facing challenges through strategic partnerships that promote cooperation for sustainable results. The Trust of the Americas is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is a national Indigenous organization representing political voices of Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada, inclusive of First Nations—on and off reserve, status, and non-status, disenfranchised—Inuit, and Métis. It was founded on the collective goals of enhancing, promoting, and fostering the social, economic, cultural, and political well-being of Indigenous women in their respective communities and Canadian societies.