“You usually start from square one. I started from a minus,” says Amy, a Blackfoot Siksika woman.
Amy grew up in Fort McMurray. The legacy of intergeneration trauma that her family faced in the residential school system impacted her own experiences and as a result, she didn’t finish high school.
Despite the challenges of becoming a single parent at the age of 20, and later of enduring a challenging relationship, Amy has always worked hard. She has completed different training throughout her life and has held a series of jobs, in oil and gas, as a landscaper, in the health industry and at 911 emergency. She is also an artist; her home is filled with her creations.
“I started with no education,” she says, “but I’ve had so many jobs over the last 18 years that I’ve accumulated a lot of skills. I’ve always created some money, but I’ve always struggled to save money and to understand healthy habits with money.”
Amy drove past Momentum’s building many times on her way to the nearby Alberta Works office. One day, feeling that she was finally ready to get some control over her finances, she dropped in and eventually enrolled in the Fair Gains program.
Fair Gains encourages participants save money while they attend a series of workshops to build knowledge and skills to manage their money. The savings that participants build over the twelve-month program are then matched at a ratio of 3-1.
“I couldn’t save before,” she says, “I wasn’t financially healthy. [Now,] I religiously put money into my savings, and I have money, even though I’m not working.”
Earlier this year, Amy used her matched savings to enroll in a driving course to get her Class 3 driver’s license. She was four days away from completing the course before the COVID pandemic cause most business to close, but she has a job lined up to drive a truck, a job she feels good about.
“I think being financially healthy is a choice,” says Amy. “Speaking to my aboriginal brothers and sisters, at some point we need to take control of our futures and our finances, to be less reliant on government assistance. I’ve made other choices so that I’m able to make money. At some point it becomes a choice about your financial stability.”
As Amy looks forward, she is optimistic saying, “For me, coming from no money to being able to take care of myself has given me some peace of mind.”
At Momentum, everything we do is grounded in a community economic development model, which means we work with individuals, businesses and systems to build a more inclusive local economy. To us, its more than just creating jobs and starting businesses- it’s about inspiring vibrant communities where everyone plays a role.
Our work is focused in these areas:
Our impact in 2019:
Types of businesses created include, Art, Cleaning, Beauty, Indigenous Clothing, Food, Marriage Officiant, etc.
Momentum’s Total Reach
Momentum’s Business Development programs help transform the passion and expertise of participants into vibrant small businesses. Momentum supports participants with writing a business plan, allows participants to learn from others in business as well as access micro-loans from Momentum.
The Skills Training program connects immigrants and Aboriginal persons with high-demand careers in the Trades. The program meets the needs of unemployed or under-employed people, as well as those in the industry.
Our free Financial Empowerment workshops empower people to take control of their money – even while living on a limited income. Participants learn how to reduce their debt, improve their credit, pay bills on time, save for the future and increase their assets.
Your investment in Momentum ensures we can directly partner with over 4,000 Calgarians a year as they find their path towards a sustainable livelihood. This could mean operating a thriving business, having a rewarding career in the Trades, or even purchasing a new home. And the return on investment for Calgary is huge. Business owners create employment and income for others. Parents save for their children’s education and invest in our future work force. Home owners pay taxes and become a part of our neighbourhoods. These people create untold value and a better future for our city.
This work is made possible by generous community members like you. Together, we can provide opportunities for Momentum participants to improve their livelihood’s and build a sustainable future for themselves and their family’s. Our partnership will create an even more vibrant city, for everyone who calls Calgary home.
In addition to providing funds to our 3 areas of focus (skills training, business development and financial empowerment) you can also help us spread the word by sharing about our work, mentioning us to potential participants and discussing how we can integrate Community Economic Development into public policy.