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In the first five years of the Heritage Community Foundation's operations, the Foundation had only four interns of Aboriginal ancestry. The Foundation accommodates from 30-50 interns and practicum students per year. A dream of Foundation Executive Director Dr. Adriana Davies was the creation of a customized on-the-job training and work experience program to enable full participation in the Information Society by First Nations, Métis and Inuit youth.
In 2004, as a result of partnership with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), the Foundation was able to run the Aboriginal IT/Animation Pilot Training Program. Foundation staff became NAIT Master Instructors to be able to provide the classroom training. This one-year program had 10 students and eight graduated on August 19th, 2005. Eight students received four NAIT Certificates: Web Design, Web Application Consultant, Flash MX and Database Administration. Seven also received supplemental instruction in 3D Max. Bioware, the award-winning video game maker oriented students to the industry. After Program completion, three students obtain employment in industry and at their Band level while four students were employed by the Foundation.
Students not only acquired knowledge and skills; they also were involved in Heritage Community Foundation digital heritage projects. This included the Métis in Alberta, Nature's Laws and Elders' Voices websites and the new Alberta Moments one-minute vignettes for television. The students developed the Alex Decoteau and Nature's Laws Alberta Moments and are working on a Pow Wow moment. In addition, students worked with the Foundation's design staff to create an Aboriginal logo for Alberta's centenary.
For 2005-06, the Foundation and NAIT are offering a revised program-the Aboriginal Training Initiatives: Interactive Media is an 8 month custom-designed, culturally sensitive training program to provide industry with leading-edge professional interactive media technicians. The Program includes a NAIT Business Management certificate for students wishing to set up as independent contractors.