Recently, Evan Croteau met Diane Jay at the Cowichan Lake District of Commerce for a computer lesson. Croteau is paid to learn computer skills and then teach them to Diane through an interesting initiative run by Industry Canada.
The Computer Access Program, through the Government of Canada, provides computer and internet access to people who don’t have it, and teaches them skills to use computers and the internet. According to Wikipedia, those who need CAP are “Aboriginals, older Canadians, Canadians with low income or low education, francophone, new immigrants, and people in rural areas. Therefore, the focus is primarily to assist in ‘Bridging the Digital Divide’.”
The CAP Youth Initiative (CAPYI) is funded through the Youth Employment Program of Canada. CAPYI seeks to teach computer skills to youth ages 15-30 and in return pays those youth to teach computer skills to others who need to learn.
“It’s also an avenue to bridge the gap between youth and seniors. Diane is fantastic for telling stories to Evan. And yesterday she came in to work on the computers and brought homemade cookies for Evan and everyone in the centre. So it’s an opportunity for the seniors to connect with the youth, too,” says Katherine Worsley, coordinator for the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce took over this education and employment program in 2007. It was formerly run by the Lake Cowichan Information Access Society, and when they shut down, the Chamber took over the contract with Industry Canada.
The program isn’t just for youth and seniors.
“We have had students helping students,” says Worsley. The program is meant for anyone who needs access to a computer.
The computers cost 15 cents per minute to use at the Chamber.
“It works out to $9 per hour,” says Worsley.
Through this program, youth also learn a variety of skills and work on projects around the Chamber, such as helping create maps and brochures.
“The individual that we’re working with, Diane, doesn’t have a computer in her home. She has been out of the techno loop for a while. Her daughter is pretty proud of her wanting to learn now at this point in her life. And they’re making connection now using email,” says Worsley.