Two groups organized a conference in Yellowknife this week where business owners were invited to learn how they could hire French-speaking people to fill their job vacancies — a situation one organization described as "desperate."
"For us who are mostly in the service industry, it's very difficult to source for employees within the community," said Eric Neba, the owner of Excel Moving and Cleaning Services, who attended the event on Thursday in hopes of learning to grow his business.
Conseil de développement économique des Territoires du Nord-Ouest (CDÉTNO) and La Communauté francophone accueillante (CFA) organized the conference. Staff from the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada were there to answer questions about the federal government's francophone work permit, along with a delegation from the territorial government.
François Afane, the executive director of the CDÉTNO, said the territorial government also has a stream through which French-speaking employees can be hired. He said promoting these pathways and tapping into the French-speaking workforce is a "win-win" because it can help fill vacant roles while also adding to the diversity of Yellowknife and N.W.T. communities.
"The need that we have, that is actually very, very desperate."
The Conseil de développement économique des Territoires du Nord-Ouest and the La Communauté francophone accueillante organized the conference in Yellowknife on Thursday. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada)
Neba said Yellowknife presents unique challenges for attracting and retaining employees. Part of it is the weather, housing and the availability of other higher-paying jobs, he said, but sometimes people with the right experience don't have the capacity to prove their qualifications.
Neba has one full-time employee from Cameroon and a couple of part-time employees from Yellowknife. Having immigrated to Canada himself more than a decade ago, Neba said he tries to give newcomers a better experience — particularly when it comes to integration.
"Because that experience is what would encourage them to stay within the community," he said.