ORIGIN is an Indigenous-owned progressive business enterprise that takes pride in offering innovative technology solutions to a growing portfolio of clients in targeted industries.  Founded in 2009, our history is rooted in workforce development and has evolved over a twelve-year period into a provider of a full suite of 360 VR solutions.

At ORIGIN, the Vision is to enhancing identity, purpose and connection to career and culture. The mission is to:

  • Build innovative solutions to advance processes by which people connect to career.
  • Accelerate technological tools that enhance identity and the pursuit of purpose.
  • Improve access to employment opportunities for Indigenous people, in the spirit of economic reconciliation.

ORIGIN is the creator of ImmersiveLink; a platform providing compelling, real-life experiences, to promote and create career connections in targeted sectors and to connect to indigenous cultural using stand-alone Virtual Reality headsets.  ORIGIN creates ImmersiveLink experiences for Workforce Development, Training and Educational purposes. 

In 2017, ORIGIN was the successful proponent of a call for proposals from Employment and Social Development Canada for their Skills Partnership Fund.  The project took a training-to-employment approach and the focus was to assess Indigenous individuals for natural equipment operation aptitude and pre-screen them using a First-People-FirstTM approach, which prepares the individual to make their own informed choice by first understanding their own personality and how that applies to a career in Heavy Equipment; and secondly, understanding the environment, challenges and obstacles they may face on the worksite.

The project was tasked with three main objectives:

  • Engage 360 Indigenous jobs seekers 18 and over (in Ontario) exposing them to a career in Heavy Equipment
  • Train 60 individuals in Heavy Equipment using an MTCU certified trainer
  • Connect 60 individuals to employment in Heavy Equipment

The project’s success can be attributed to the 3-pronged approach the company took to engagement.

  1. Identify and inform all the external stakeholders
  2. Identify in-community resource people
  3. Clearly communicating expectations to participants

ORIGIN engaged with Industry employers, local Indigenous Skills and Employment and Training Program agreement holders to identify opportunities by area and local media to educate and inform the potential beneficiaries of the projects’ results, about Operation Innovation and its mandate.  The key to developing functioning relationships is being transparent, clear in expectations and recognizing success when it occurs and celebrating it. 

Once the external stakeholders were engaged and aware of what was happening, the second step was to implement the cyclical search for participants.  ORIGIN is a well-known provider of workforce development training workshops, as well as a deliverer of Life Skills workshops that educate and prepare people to face the surrounding obstacles in life when maintaining employment, i.e. Self-care, budgeting, meal-planning. 

ORIGIN believes when engaging individuals that we must look at the whole person, success in career is only backed by success in everyday living. 

ORIGIN worked with various ‘human resources’ in the communities, including Ontario Works Administrators, Employment Coordinators, Youth Coordinators, Classroom Educators and even local Facebook curators who had an influential reach within their communities.  Understanding that there is not just one avenue of engagement in community is key to success.  Once we identified community champions, we created engaging and appealing marketing tools to be able to engage potential participants: including materials that appealed to women, who are traditionally not engaged to participate in Heavy Equipment operation.

Once a group had been identified, ORIGIN travelled to the First Nation to be able to bring the opportunity directly to participants, instead of asking them to leave their communities.  The physical visit to the community lasted on average 3 days but lead time for this varied from one week to three weeks.  The number of interested individuals ranged from 8 to 24, depending on the community.

Day One included an opportunity for final registration, a fun and interactive introductory workshop that gifted the participant with information about their personality and how it relates to career, establishing a bond or trust between the trainer and the participants.  After this workshop, the project lead would then clearly introduce the opportunity that Operation Innovation presented so there were no misunderstandings. When possible, ORIGIN invited Employers and ISETs to speak about their employment and training opportunities, so participants were well informed of all of the opportunities that were available to them.

The project’s lead job developer then worked with each individual to informally interview them and provided them feedback on attaining success in any field of employment.  Individuals who were not chosen to proceed to certified training were given a success path plan and referrals to organizations who were better equipped to help them achieve personal success prior to training and/or employment.

The remainder of the visit consisted of heavy equipment screenings using a mobile classroom with 4 CAT simulators.  Individuals were given times to arrive for their screenings on each piece of equipment which allowed them 2 hours of time to familiarize and complete practical exams; they were assessed on teachability, attitude and attendance.

Operation Innovation took a two-phase approach to identifying training candidates.  Everyone who was 18 and older, with an interest in Heavy Equipment was encouraged to participate in the community sessions, however only those who showed natural aptitude, attainment of basic employability skills and personal motivation were chosen to move to the second phase of acquiring certified training and being connected to employment. 

On average, after visiting 6 communities ORIGIN would assess the participants as a group and make offers for certified training, making the process competitive.  We worked with trainers local to Thunder Bay to provide customized equipment training courses dependant on what the opportunities were for the trainees involved.  One example of understanding local opportunities was discovered in the Treaty 3 area. The opportunities for employment largely lied within New Gold and the opportunity to start on a rock truck.  In light of that, ORIGIN worked with a local trainer to develop a customized Rock Truck program, so students could specialize on a piece of equipment (gaining more practical hours) and have a higher chance of achieving employment.

ORIGIN worked with the selected trainees to bring them to Thunder Bay to be trained.  ORIGIN did this in various group sizes from 5-13 people.  During their time in Thunder Bay, trainees were welcomed on Arrival day by ORIGIN staff and settled into their accommodations.  The certified training consisted of 2 weeks of theory and safety courses, leading to their surface common core certification. Then weeks 3-6 were practical hands on training on pieces of equipment such as a: Front End Loader, Excavator, Dozer and/or Rock Truck.

During the trainees’ time in Thunder Bay, there were social events curated by ORIGIN and as well, they were offered the opportunity to travel home once during the 6-week time period, to be able to reconnect with family and friends and maintain the personal support needed to succeed.  Also, during their time in Thunder Bay, ORIGIN delivered the Wake the Warrior programming to the trainees.  This training consisted of resume development, professionalism/personal branding training, interpersonal communications training and interview practice; to ensure all were ready to attain that life-changing career opportunity.

ORIGIN travelled to over 42 different First Nations, screened over 400 individuals and trained 77 individuals in Heavy Equipment and have connected 74 of those individuals to careers in Heavy Equipment – after 4 years, 70 of those are still employed within the mining, construction and infrastructure development sectors. ORIGIN attributes trainee success to the fact that individuals were prepared with employability skills, understood job role and site expectations and believed they could see themselves as an Operator. 

ORIGIN attributes the project’s success to using the First-People-FirstTM approach, interactive hands on assessment tools (CAT Simulators) and ensuring that we are not working harder for the trainee than they are for themselves, something Director Paul Giles believes that is integral to success of an individual and to prevent ‘human resource burn out’ or poor success rates in Training to Employment programs.

After demonstrating and achieving success in the Heavy equipment field, ORIGIN was left hungry to be able to do this for different types of careers, because as identified through the project (and common sense) Heavy Equipment isn’t for everyone.  This led the company to develop ImmersiveLink, a virtual learning platform providing compelling, real-life experiences, to promote and create career connections in targeted sectors.  

ORIGIN completed its premiere ImmersiveLink experience with Gold Corp (now Newmont Gold) at their Musselwhite Mine operations.  In virtual experience, an individual is taken on a hosted tour of the lock-out tag-out rooms and then immersed in an underground environment exposing the viewer not only to the environment but the plethora of positions available in the facility.  Gold Corp uses this at tradeshows and other recruitment initiatives to be able to communicate the opportunities without having to do the interpretation for the potential job seeker and allow them to see for themselves if it is a job that they can see themselves doing. In the long run, this helps with retention for the company.

Since then, ORIGIN has published 15 more career experiences which are housed in the growing virtual library available by subscription. Currently, ImmersiveLink is in over 1000 schools in Ontario and is on pace to achieve over 1 million views this year.  Companies who are interested in promoting their employment opportunities within educational institutes and/or First Nations are encouraged to contact ORIGIN to learn more.  Please visit www.immersivelink.ca to find out more and to discover how the companies second virtual library, ImmersiveLink Cultural can increase your credibility with communities when trying to attain new contracts within their traditional territories.


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