In 2009, Skeena Supported Employment Society received a $80,000 grant from Northern Development through the Community Adjustment Fund program towards this $207,056 project. This has been a funding partnership of Skeena Supported Employment Society, Northern Development, Bulkley Valley Credit Union, Community Adjustment Fund, District of New Hazelton, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and Local Fundraising
2012-Skeena Bakery is operated by the not-for-profit Skeena Supported Employment Society, a grassroots community organization conceived to address the lack of meaningful employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities in the Hazeltons and neighbouring villages. As a model ‘supported workplace’, you may see disabled trainees working alongside the skilled bakers shaping loaves in the bakery, or with a support worker serving your cinnamon roll and coffee in the shop-front cafe. All profits made by the Skeena Bakery go towards fostering further employment opportunities in the Hazeltons.
The mission of the Skeena Supported Employment Society is to enhance the work and life skills of people with disabilities by providing supported employment and volunteer opportunities in the Hazeltons. The Skeena Bakery provides valuable and unique training and employment opportunities for residents in New Hazelton and the surrounding region. Employment opportunities at the Skeena Bakery are focused on providing persons with mental, developmental, and physical disabilities in the area’s communities with meaningful work and life skills, while also offering outstanding baking products that are renowned from Prince Rupert to Prince George.
Skeena Supported Employment Society secured $80,000 in project funding in 2008 from Northern Development and the Community Adjustment Fund to establish the social enterprise and its bakery facilities. The society reports that this initial startup funding has been an integral part of the project and its success, providing the means for equipment purchase and installation, training initiatives, wages, and a comprehensive bakery retrofit and upgrade.
Additionally, the start-up of the Skeena Bakery is increasing foot traffic in the town centre of New Hazelton, volunteer opportunities, and creating a number of permanent full-time and part-time jobs that all help to revitalize and diversify New Hazelton’s economy.
"The Skeena Bakery has provided a meaningful work experience and a sense of belonging for people with disabilities while providing an informal gather place in town and building a sense of pride in the quality products that attract customers from all over the region. This project has brought economic benefits to the region by providing a service for local people and attracting people from elsewhere in the region while initially employing four people."Pailine Gomez, President, Skeena Supported Employment Society
Good bakeries have the ability like few other businesses to revive a village centre. The Skeena Bakery is poised to become a permanent hub of social interaction at the centre of New Hazelton, with the disabled and most marginalized members of the community at its heart. The Bakery offers a great selection of baked goods at reasonable prices and is attracting customers from Terrace to the west, and Smithers to the East.
Along with traditional baking skills (and the possibility of Red Seal apprenticeships), the bakery offers team-work, small-business management, and entrepreneurial training and experience within the community. Skeena Bakery is becoming a beacon of inspiration for entrepreneurs in the Hazeltons.
Since opening, the bakery has continually hired local residents that have experienced barriers to traditional employment. The bakery has provided job skills and training that has renewed people's confidence in themselves, including employees who have returned to school and secured their Dogwood diploma, further positioning them to more fully participate in the labour market.