Carly Chartier works with the Selkirk Friendship Centre, as well as being a hobby photographer and artisan specializing in moccasin-making. She is Métis, raised in Selkirk, MB and her family is from Sagkeeng First Nation, in Treaty 1 territory.
Carly’s association with the Friendship Centre started when she was just four years old; and her family would attend the various programmes held there. “We did powwow dancing, there were culture nights, gym nights, all that stuff.” While she imagined it must be an amazing place to work, it never occurred to young Carly that she would end up there as an adult. “It’s really neat to kind of loop back. Some of the co-workers I work with actually were the ones that worked there 20 years ago when I used to come as a small kid.”
This is a key element of these important Indigenous community hubs: “A part of the Friendship Centre is just having those relationships and showing how much they actually connect people for a lifelong journey.”
Carly’s path has certainly been closely tied to her Friendship Centre, one of over a hundred across the country. As a teen she took on a volunteer position, and then worked with the youth programme while she was in college, before moving into the administrative position she holds today.
The Selkirk Friendship Centre is a large operation with programmes running in several different locations throughout the city. Carly explains, “We have a childcare programme, we have an apartment building; our youth programme building is the next street over which houses afterschool club, youth mentorship, and the HeadStart programme, which is a preschool that’s Indigenous-based.”
Carly’s work at the Centre is constantly evolving. “When I started working there, we were more into like the developmental stages. So we did a lot of employment. Getting youth inspired to go back to school, to get their Grade 12, to move into college, getting those programmes to help them find employment and stuff like that. And then really focusing on mental health and physical health.”
Carly was first inspired to take on this kind of social work through a sociology class in high school. “That kind of stuck with me and I really liked it. I really liked my teacher and we connected.” In college, Carly found her specialty after researching some of the classes that were being offered in human behaviour. She selected them purely out of interest, only to learn that they could lead her to a career. “I didn’t even know it was a part of a whole certificate of Human Resources. So when I went to sign up for the classes, [the college advisors said], ‘Well, maybe you’d be interested in these ones, and then you could actually graduate.’”
Not surprisingly, then, Carly’s advice to youth would be to do their research as they plan for their future. “All of the colleges and schools actually have people that are available to talk to about things. So if there’s anything you’re unsure of, just ask.”
Carly had watched too many friends jump straight into college from high school without taking the time or making the effort to research what might actually interest them. “They did a year of it, and that’s not even remotely close to what they actually finished in. And I just felt like that’s so much time and effort and money that you’re putting into it that’s not benefiting you and going anywhere.”
Being wise about savings is the one piece of advice Carly wished she could go back and give her younger self. “Thinking back to when I was 16 to 21, the amount of money I spent on stupid things that looking back now, I was like, ‘That’s so much money I could have put towards something else and saved up.’”
Much like researching courses at school, Carly advises seeking out the experts when it comes to financial literacy. “You could call up your local bank and speak to a financial advisor. Most of them won’t even charge [youth].”
And when the time comes to seek employment, “I really encourage people to research other jobs than the ones that are forward. When you go to a job fair, yeah there’s all those set jobs, but there’s also so many behind the scenes that you don’t see.”
Carly wants young people, especially Indigenous youth, to “know your worth!” She wants them to do the research and understand the wages they are entitled to. “I know a lot of youth get taken advantage of and right away they’re thrown the minimum wage. But a lot of times, if you have that one or two years experience, you’re entitled to a bit more of a pay raise. Do not be afraid to ask for one if you deserve it... Always research what you’re doing.”
Special thanks to Jessica Dee Humphreys for authoring this blog post.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.