My passion off the court

 The Next Generation

The last few summers I worked in retail and with fitness technology helping customers with their fitness needs. I have always been interested in people oriented work, so this summer I decided to take on a different path for my summer job. I was fortunate enough to become an Indigenous Youth Career Coach for the central Alberta region. I worked with CAREERS: The Next Generation and their mandate is to connect high school students with their potential career paths, setting up students for their best success after graduation.

I worked specifically with Indigenous youth through the Indigenous Youth Career Pathways program, which gives students the option to work with me and explore six different career paths. I also helped the students with resumes, cover letters, employability skills, job interviews and career exploration. I worked with students from the Ermineskin First Nation and Montana First Nation through their summer employment program. I helped at least 25 students per workshop/presentation and I had two to three workshops/presentations per week throughout July and August.

My greatest highlights from this summer were creating connections with my students and their summer coordinators, and as a bonus, receiving positive feedback. One of my fondest memories was working with the Your Choice Homes project at Maskwacis. The project involves high school students building homes for the elders in their community that are more accessible for wheelchairs. The students are part of the entire process, from the framing to the measurements, to the finishing, and everything else involved in building a home. I helped these students to implement their experience from this project into their resume.

With this experience my plan is to encourage Indigenous youth to pursue their post-secondary goals and aspiration. I plan to keep this role every summer until I’m done my schooling in Red Deer. Throughout the school year I will be volunteering at the Red Deer Native Friendship Society and trying to help build a foundation for their youth programming by providing help with career planning and answering questions that students may have. I also plan to help build the Indigenous involvement at RDC with the help from Athletic Director Diane St-Denis and Indigenous Student Services Coordinator Lloyd Desjarlais by bringing in students from First Nation reserves in the central Alberta region, and showcasing what RDC has to offer students on their post-secondary journey.

Throughout my basketball career I have been blessed with various opportunities that I would have never been offered if it wasn’t for sport. When I’m finished school, I want to be able to give back to Indigenous youth and use my experiences I gained from basketball and school to help provide opportunity through sport. I believe sport is such a healthy outlet for anyone struggling with adversity throughout their life. I want to guide youth on this journey to better their futures and set them up for their best success, so they can share what they’ve learned back into their communities.

Photo provided by the author Lauren Cardinal (standing on right of the screen). Cardinal is a Bachelor of Kinesiology student and a third-year forward on the Queens Basketball team. 

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