Media release

Mentorship pilot pairs Indigenous youth with tech volunteers

KITCHENER, ONT., October 05, 2020 — Indigenous youth with an interest in developing software will be paired with mentors from the Waterloo Region tech community in a new pilot project.

Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training is working with Communitech to launch the pilot, which will match 10 Indigenous students with 10 volunteer mentors for 10 hours of hands-on learning in popular coding languages, including Python, JavaScript and HTML.

The aim of the partnership is to help build career opportunities for Indigenous youth in Waterloo Region and expand the talent pipeline for the region’s fast-growing technology sector. Once the pilot is complete, the partners hope to have a mentorship program they can share with  Indigenous communities far beyond the region.

“Mentorship is beneficial for students who embark on a tech-based career and even more crucial for Indigenous students who are entering this field,” said Stephen Jackson, CEO of Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training, a Kitchener-based non-profit organization that supports urban Indigenous people in finding avenues to self-sufficiency and success. “This is an excellent example of partnership and reconciliation between organizations and the Indigenous community which foster long-term, sustainable possibilities for Canada’s fastest-growing demographic.”

Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech, said the pilot gives members of the tech community a way to help expand the local talent pool while enhancing their leadership skills and helping to open new doors for Indigenous neighbours.

“‘Tech for good’ is a core value at Communitech, and community is built into our name,” Klugman said. “Mentorship is a practical and powerful way to demonstrate our commitment to making sure more people in our community benefit from the work we do, and to creating a stronger community of tech.

Indigenous students and prospective mentors who want to take part in the pilot are encouraged to contact Caitlyn McComb, Mentorship Program Co-ordinator at Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training, at caitlyn@aocan.org. Once the participants are selected, mentoring sessions will be arranged and conducted virtually due to COVID-19.

Participating students who need access to a computer will be able to access one through the centre, following a donation of seven laptops arranged by Dave Caputo, Chair of Communitech’s board of directors.

Companies wishing to donate capable laptops (Macs or PCs) with modern operating systems are encouraged to contact Caitlyn or drop them off at Anishnabeg Outreach Centre at 236 Woodhaven Rd. in Kitchener.

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Caitlyn McComb, Mentorship Program Co-ordinator, Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training

(519) 742-0300

caitlyn@aocan.org


Candace Beres

Manager, Public Relations, Communitech

(519) 888-9944 Ext. 1027

candace.beres@communitech.ca

 

About Anishnabeg Outreach Employment and Training

Anishnabeg Outreach is an incorporated non-profit organization guided by a volunteer Board of Directors. We work primarily with the non-profit sector and are guided by a clear mission and set of values. We provide Indigenous people with access to a comprehensive suite of culturally appropriate services and strive to support individuals with direction and assistance to overcome barriers. We encourage individual exploration of avenues that will lead to self-sufficiency and success.

 

About Communitech

 Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1,400 companies – from startups to scale-ups to large global players.

Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways:

  • Communitech is a place – the centre of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool tech and great companies.
  • Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate.
  • Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to help companies go from a small startup to a global giant.