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It was just one year ago that 26-year-old Kyle Kinequon from Starblanket First Nation didn’t know what he wanted to do. “I was basically looking for work but really not knowing what to do,” said Kinequon.

 

One year later, he has found his way with the help of Ignite, a Regina adult learning program.

 

“When I went to Ignite, that’s when I actually found what I wanted to do,” he said.

Family and friends of 11 graduates gathered at the Ramada Plaza in Regina on Jan. 14 to celebrate the hard work and achievements of each apprentice over the last 32 weeks. It was the program’s 38th graduation ceremony.

 

Chosen as the Cycle 38 valedictorian, Kinequon said he now has aspirations to enter post-secondary education.

 

“I want to go to university. I want to go and do something with finance. That’s my main goal right now,” he said.

 

Ignite Adult Learning’s program is an intensive 32-week course that provides students with a wide range of skills and knowledge to prepare themselves for a professional career. Facilitator Mona Hill believes programs like this are essential to professional development.

 

“If you are looking for an environment that is supportive, non-judgmental and you want to be able to move into the workplace, Ignite will help you do that,” said Hill.

 

“They showed me responsibility and they showed me how to be accountable and reliable,” Kinequon said. “But they gave me means to do something with my life and that’s the biggest thing.”

 

Describing how he has changed over the last year, “(I’m) someone who is on top of the world!” said Kinequon. “I feel like I can do anything I want right now after the program.”

 

“They really incite the inner flame within you to do something and that’s why I think they might call it Ignite,” said Kinequon.

 

The cohort of graduates learned everything from public speaking skills through their Toastmasters class, which will assist with job interviews and self-confidence, to how to deal with addictions through a smart recovery program.

 

“We talk about addictions (and) how addictions affect every facet of our lives,” said Hill.

 

“You can learn to understand addictions and you can learn to understand yourself. If we’re looking to change habits that are not healthy for us there are tools that will help us to be able to change that,” said Hill. “That’s what it’s about. You want to quit smoking, you want to quit gambling, you want to quit buying clothes or overeating you want to quit the drugs, then you have the tools to do that.”

 

An important part of the professional development aspect of Ignite is the mentorship program. “Each one of our apprentices has a mentor from the business community,” said Hill. “Many of them come from human resources departments in some of the crown corporations and other corporations in the city. They come in and offer their time [to] mentor one apprentice every cycle and they become a friend and a confidant.”

 

Ignite Adult Learning opened its doors in 1990 as Multi-Cultural Enterprises Inc. with a focus on helping at-risk young adults become contributing members of the community. In 2012, it was rebranded as Ignite Adult Learning Corporation.

 

Since Ignite opened its doors, it has averaged a 75 per cent graduation rate and, according to its website, 70 per cent of those graduates move immediately into post-secondary education or the workforce.