In 1991, the federal government announced a new employment and training strategy called Pathways to Success. The basis of this new strategy was to provide First Nations with greater decision making ability in providing their members with training and employment opportunities. The administration office of the Grand Council Treaty #3 submitted a successful proposal to become the local delivery mechanism for the Pathways to Success strategy within the Treaty #3 Area.

Since the initial strategy was implemented in 1991, there have been three revised strategies that have succeeded the Pathways to Success strategy, specifically, the Regional Bilateral Agreement, the Aboriginal Human Resource Development and the current strategy, the Aboriginal Human Resource Development II, which officially ends on March 31, 2009.

Shooniyaa Wa-Biitong Training and Employment Centre for the Treaty No. 3 Area (Shooniyaa) was incorporated on December 31, 1992 to provide administrative and program delivery capabilities for the implementation of the Pathways to Success strategy on behalf of the Grand Council Treaty #3. Just as the strategies themselves have undergone numerous changes from their inception, so too has Shooniyaa undergone many changes.

In the Pathways to Success strategy, Shooniyaa acted as an approval board whereby training projects were reviewed and approved by the Shooniyaa Board of Directors but then contracted by our partner, then called Canada Employment and Immigration Canada. Our only funding was for administration which was approximately $500,000 annually.

With the next strategy in 1996, the Regional Bilateral Agreement, Shooniyaa began managing all the funds, including the program funds. Such increased responsibility of course meant an increase in staff to work with the First Nations under our agreement and the individual clients requiring financial assistance for skill development. Accordingly, our annual budget increased to $3.2 million in 1997 once the agreement was signed. The Board structure was changed to reflect a First Nations process and Métis representation was removed.

In 1999, a revised strategy was implemented and named the Aboriginal Human Resource Development strategy. The Board of Directors of Shooniyaa became the actual signatory to the agreement with Canada on behalf of the Chiefs of Treaty #3. The Board of Directors of Shooniyaa provided quarterly reports to the Chiefs via each assembly also established the Protocol Committee which consisted of the Executive of the Board of Directors of Shooniyaa and the Chiefs Responsible for Education, Training and Childcare. Shooniyaa’s annual budget was $4.3 million for this strategy.

In 2004, Shooniyaa entered into the Aboriginal Human Resource Development II strategy which ends on March 31, 2009. Shooniyaa’s annual budget was $4.7 million. In 2005, Shooniyaa reduced the size of its Board of Directors to eight members from ten in order to eliminate overrepresentation and to become more cost effective. In addition, the spelling of Shooniyaa’s name was changed to reflect the proper pronunciation. Shooniyaa’s Elder, Jim Windigo helped us through this process.

Launched in 2010, the Aboriginal Human Resource Development II was replaced by the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS).  ASETS provided a full suite of skills development and job training services—from essential skills such as literacy and numeracy to more advanced training for in-demand jobs. It is a responsive, flexible, and innovative strategy that was designed to meet the unique needs of Indigenous people.

In 2016 and 2017, the Government engaged with Indigenous peoples and organizations across the country to review and renew Indigenous labour market programs. Following extensive engagement, the Government and Indigenous partners are working on the co-development and implementation of the new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) Program to replace ASETS.

The new ISET Program will continue to help Indigenous people get the skills training they need to participate in the economy and contribute to the success of their communities. The ISET Program will take a distinctions-based approach to recognize the unique needs of First Nations, Métis, Inuit and urban/non-affiliated Indigenous people.