Skyscape: Hotel Development at Whitecap Creates Demand for SIIT Training Programs

The Dakota Dunes hotel development at Whitecap Dakota First Nation is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the community. To help support this work, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) has partnered with Whitecap and Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) to help fulfill the employment needs of this project. 

Randolph Royal, a student from Whitecap Dakota First Nation enrolled in the Guest Services program in Saskatoon, indicated he has found the program to be "extraordinary" in helping him gain the skills needed for a potential career in his home community. “I’m looking forward to gaining more experience working with the public, and hopefully, taking all that experience back to my community once the hotel is up,” said Royal. 

Program instructor Rob Campbell believes there is potential for direct employment within the industry and for additional economic opportunities to arise related to guest services.  "The priority for the Whitecap hotel development is about employment in Whitecap. In addition, you can look at potential for First Nations or Aboriginal tourism and business holdings... even if you look at the retail end of things," said Campbell.

Students in the program have the opportunity to participate in a work placement at various hotels throughout Saskatoon, allowing the students to receive hands-on training and experience. 

The Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) provided support in getting the funding required to offer the training opportunities to SIIT learners. STC supported the request for funding that was provided through Saskatchewan Indian Training Assessment Group (SITAG). "Incremental funding dollars became available, SITAG did a request for proposals, we responded and let Whitecap know of this opportunity, we held a few initial meetings with SIIT and the deal was done," said Brian Attig, Senior Program Coordinator, STC. 

"What Whitecap wanted to do was create employment for their members and from what I’ve seen this program will do just that.”

SIIT programs supporting the hotel development include: Guest Services, Concrete Forming, and Steel, Stud and Drywall courses. In addition, STC requested additional training through our colleagues at First Nations University of Canada to provide management training through the Hospitality Tourism and Gaming Certificate program.  

Darrell Balkwill, Chief Executive Officer for the Whitecap Development Corporation, stated the development is expected to create 200 jobs during the two-year period of construction and approximately 150 jobs once it is opened and operational. "The hotel will be a profitable business operation that will generate revenues that can be reinvested back into other economic developments and in programs and services for community members," said Balkwill.  

For Royal, he sees the hotel development as an important part of the community's future that he is excited to be a part of.  “It gives me the feeling we’re growing, economically, having more people come out to our community... it’s going to be something I can tell my children, ‘I watched this from when there was nothing here and now this is where dad works’,” he said excitingly.