As the Indigenous Project & Apprenticeship Coordinator (IPAC), Erica Craft’s role at the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) is focused on fostering meaningful relationships with the Indigenous communities in the province, specifically as it pertains to providing them with apprenticeship information.
What’s your story?
I spent most of my young adult life in the United States before permanently moving home to my community of Tobique First Nation. I quit school in grade 11 and later went back to successfully complete my GED. Shortly after, I became certified as an emergency medical technician and worked in my community. After years of working various jobs and establishing my family, I made the decision to go back to college, then to university. With the encouragement and support of my family and coworkers, I worked by day and went to school full-time in the evenings. It was challenging at times but with the encouragement of my loved ones, I was able to push through. My life has taken many different paths but the one thing that is constant is my love for my family and friends.
How long have you been with JEDI and what is your position?
I began working with JEDI in 2011. I was initially hired under the Aboriginal Skills Employment Project (ASEP) as the job coach for our forestry students. However, I currently work as the Indigenous Project & Apprenticeship Coordinator.
Can you describe some of the roles and responsibilities in your current position?
As the Indigenous Project & Apprenticeship Coordinator, some of my roles and responsibilities include highlighting the benefits of apprenticeship and the programs and services offered to tradespersons in New Brunswick. I also assist Indigenous communities with coordinating training programs being offered for trades.
Another part of my job is coordinating the new Indigenous Youth Engagement Trades Initiative (IYETI) at JEDI. My responsibilities within this role include awareness, engagement, promotion, and exploration of the trades and opportunities to Indigenous youth.
What’s your education and work history?
After obtaining my GED, I received my college degree in liberal arts majoring in general studies from Northern Maine community college. Following community college, I graduating with honours from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Educational Studies.
I’ve worn many hats in my career, from ambulance attendant to business owner. Each job has provided me with new a new skill-set that I am able to carry in both my career and personal life. Prior to beginning my position at JEDI, I was working as the Employment Training Officer (ETO) for my community of Tobique First Nation. In this position, I had the opportunity to help community members access training-to-employment opportunities.
Additionally, I have gained many certifications through the years, including an Indigenous Career Practitioner certification, Communications and Math Employment Readiness Assessment administrator, Kairos blanket exercise training, amongst many others.
What are your goals in your current position?
The ultimate goal in my career has always been to make a difference in someone’s life. Another goal is to make strides in removing some of the barriers and stereotypes placed on Indigenous people. JEDI allows me to do this by sharing opportunities available for our Indigenous communities. For me, working with Indigenous people to help them find a career that makes them happy is a reward in itself.
What makes you unique (both as a JEDI employee and as an individual)?
My coworkers say I am unique because I love diet Pepsi with a bag of chips for breakfast, and I put hot sauce on my Cheetos.
What is your favorite thing about working at JEDI?
My favorite thing about working at JEDI is the work we are able to do for and with Indigenous communities. I thoroughly enjoy my co-workers, the clients we service and the partners we’ve had the opportunity of collaborating with. I’m grateful to work at an establishment where I am constantly learning, growing and helping others.