CEI Newsletter March 2020

CEI Newsletter March 2020

Nova Scotia Diversity and Inclusion Program Enters Partnership Phase

New Opportunities for Work (NOW), a provincially funded program centered on removing systemic barriers for groups underrepresented in the workforce, has created a paradigm shift, as it has exceeded expectations of what a wage-subsidy labour attachment program can do. These successes have inspired a number of other initiatives, including the Nova Scotia Works Diversity and Inclusion Program—an initiative to support diversity and inclusion within the Nova Scotia Works employment services system.

Employment Nova Scotia’s (ENS) Director of Employment Programs, Amie Haughn, introduced the Diversity and Inclusion Program in June of 2019, stressing the importance of strengthening services and the connection to community. The program will engage the Nova Scotia Works’ employment service providers to work collectively on enhancing services for all Nova Scotians. Angela Bear, the Centre for Employment Innovation’s (CEI) Navigator of New Initiatives, leads this initiative along with Michael Aidiya, Brenda Gatera and Jaime Smith, and the CEI’s partners ENS, the Nova Scotia Career Development Association, and the Valley African Nova Scotia Development Association.

Phase one of the program is focused on improving services for African Nova Scotians (ANS) and People of African Descent (PAD) and will support the hiring of 15 ANS and PAD Career Development Practitioners (CDP). This will include training and supports for the participants and the Nova Scotia Works service providers as employers. First Voice continues to play a crucial role in the program’s design, development, and implementation helping to obtain positive outcomes when working with diverse populations. Cultural relevancy while maintaining awareness, sensitivity, and respect for the Black community are important for the program’s success.

Over the last six months, the engagement sessions with current CDPs whom self-identify as ANS and PAD have not only been informative in recognizing and addressing the gaps in diversity and inclusion practices within the system, but will be impactful and beneficial when implementing the supports and training that must be considered when developing a program led by First Voice. These sessions have also proved fruitful in building and strengthening relationships amongst practitioners in the system.

As part of the employment services eco-system, the CEI is proud to be a part of the work to improve outreach and services to underrepresented groups in Nova Scotia. Our collective work is enhancing not just employment for all Nova Scotians, but aspires to improve the quality of life for all who reside in this province as well.

Inclusion and Diversity—a Passion for CEI’s Angela Bear

by Arielle Szpiro

As the Navigator of New Initiatives for the Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI) at St. Francis Xavier University’s Extension Department, Angela Bear is enthusiastic about leading one of the Centre’s newest initiatives, the Nova Scotia Works Diversity and Inclusion Program and the diversification of the employment service system throughout the province.

“The purpose of the program is to further develop and improve inclusion principles and the delivery of services in the employment system in Nova Scotia,” Angela says.

“Through the provision of financial resources and career practitioner training, we will help support the career development sector and the employment services ecosystem as a whole. It is designed to strengthen community-based employment providers, reflect the communities they serve, and improve the service-to-person interactions which are currently underrepresented in Nova Scotia’s labour market.”

The program will work to hire 15 People of African Descent and improve overreaching services with the help of the Nova Scotia Works employment services centres.

As one of the first 150 individuals certified as a career practitioner by the Nova Scotia Career Development Association in 2016, Angela was highly encouraged to apply for the Navigator of New Initiatives position. She was already managing a Halifax-Sheet Harbour Employment Outreach Team as well as the YMCA Nova Scotia Works employment centre in a predominantly African Canadian community in Cherry Brooke.

“Being an African American Nova Scotian woman, I am excited to work on something that I hold dear to my heart with all these wonderful individuals who share their same concern and drive for social change,” Angela says.

“The program is not going to be facilitated by any outside organizations or partners without being led [from within]. That is the key that I think is missing from many social change programs.”

 Szpiro studies journalism at University of King’s College and International Development Studies at Dalhousie University.

Funding Support Available to Attend Coady Courses

As St. Francis Xavier University’s Coady Institute celebrates its 60th anniversary of mobilizing community change leaders on a local and global level, the Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI) is building upon its growing partnership with the Institute by developing several certificate courses in conjunction with Coady. The partnership will include 5 full scholarships for the Social Enterprise for Inclusive Economies course slated for (September 7 to 18), as well as a number of scholarships across all other courses for people who are within the Nova Scotia Works system.

Coady continues to support emerging leaders in Indigenous communities in Canada and African Nova Scotian communities here in Nova Scotia. This work is receiving additional financial support through the Comart Foundation and the Jeannine Deveau Achievement Fund. In December 2019, Coady Executive Director Gord Cunningham announced $600,000 in funding over the course of three years would be made available to support this work. These funds will provide scholarships to both Indigenous and African Nova Scotian participants to attend Coady programs on and off campus.

We need your assistance in identifying change leaders from within your own organization, or partner organizations, who are ready to act and would value the opportunity to attend a Coady program. Take a moment to review the programs and circulate this information amongst your staff, networks, and partner organizations. 2020 programs that may be of particular interest to Nova Scotian participants include:

Development and Evaluation for Social Impact (May 11 to June 5). Developmental Evaluation is an exciting new approach to evaluation that enables social innovators, policy and program managers, and community leaders to design, monitor, and adapt social change initiatives in complex and uncertain environments. This year’s course is designed primarily for promoters of change and innovation from across Nova Scotia and throughout Canada.

Action Research for Citizen-Led Change (July 6 to 17). Join us as we cover the basics of action research for citizen-led change. You will design your own action research initiative step-by-step, learning about the principles and methods appropriate for different action research purposes.

Asset-Based Citizen-Led Development (August 3 to 14). An Asset-Based Citizen-Led Development (ABCD) approach helps communities to identify and build upon strengths and assets, rather than starting with needs and deficits. This course aims to support change makers and passionate individuals who want to share approaches, practice tools, and techniques to uncover and leverage community assets and strengths, and develop a global network.

Social Enterprise for Inclusive Economies (September 7 to 18). Beginning with an assessment of the emergence and history of the social entrepreneurship movement, this course will explore social enterprise as a vehicle to create social change, while addressing the age-old question of sustainability. It will be a combination of theory, introduction to tools and approaches, case studies, first-hand practitioner experience as well as field visits to help participants explore strategies for creating inclusive local economies.

Future of Work and Workers (November 16 to 27). Building upon 60 years of partnership with leading community-based and non-governmental organizations, this certificate takes a human-centered approach to a future of work based on a foundation of social justice, being collective, and strengthening the assets of all workers.

Applications for most of Coady’s 2020 Educational Programs are now open.

Innovation Series: Mentorship for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Jennifer and Cam are business owners in Windsor, Nova Scotia. Karen, an aspiring entrepreneur in the area, had an opportunity to learn from their experiences, and the experiences of other entrepreneurs in the region through an innovative speed-networking event.

Avon Region Community Development Association (ARCDA) Nova Scotia Works hosted an “Entrepreneurial Circle” – an opportunity for local business owners, entrepreneurs, and aspiring entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, give advice, discuss challenges, and learn from the experiences of others on the journey of self-employment.

New Faces: Building Capacity to Better Support Our Communities

As the Centre for Employment Innovation (CEI) expands its work in research, innovation, and collective impact we have welcomed three new team members so far this year for time sensitive projects. Alfred Burgesson and Ryan Currie joined us in January and Carrie Ferguson began her work in February.

Alfred is the new Engagement and Impact Coordinator for CEI. He moved from Ghana to Nova Scotia with his family to pursue a better quality of life. Alfred is a community organizer in Halifax, and is passionate about youth sports, engagement, and employment. He is the founder of HFX Collective, a youth-led organization and platform focused on creating opportunities for meaningful youth engagement and employment. He is a team member of the Halifax Social Network. Alfred serves on various boards and councils, including the Halifax Public Libraries Board and the Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council.

“I feel grateful for the opportunity to work with the team at the Centre of Employment Innovation,” Alfred says. “CEI has demonstrated the ability to develop innovative solutions that engage and employ people across Nova Scotia. Ultimately, our success is measured by the improvement of people’s quality of life, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”

Ryan is completing a co-op placement as Special Projects Assistant at CEI. A third year Psychology major currently enrolled at Saint Mary’s University, Ryan will be contributing to CEI’s work for the winter semester of 2020.

“It is thrilling to be part of a team focused on the goal of creating a diverse, inclusive, skilled, and resilient workforce across Nova Scotia,” Ryan says.

As the New Opportunities for Work (NOW) Program implementation phase draws to a close and research components ramp-up Carrie will be the Research Coordinator for NOW. Carrie has more than 15 years of research experience and a passion for immigration, gender, and employment. She graduated from Dalhousie University with a Master’s in Political Science (International Relations and Comparative Public Policy) and has two courses remaining in a Master of Public Administration Management degree, also from Dalhousie. Prior to that, she graduated from St. Mary’s University with a BA Honours in Political Science (International Relations) and a minor in Psychology.

After working in government, NGOs, and university settings for a number of years, she has been with Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) on the Employment and Bridging in a range of research roles. She and her partner live in Dartmouth and regularly commute to Bramber, Nova Scotia where they are starting a tree farm.

We look forward to sharing more of Alfred’s, Ryan’s, and Carrie’s work with you in the future.

Busy start to 2020

NOW Community of Learning Held

On January 20 and 21, 2020, the Centre for Employment Innovation hosted a New Opportunities for Work (NOW) Community of Learning session. Communities of Learning create an environment for sharing experiences, providing insights, and reflections on experiences with program implementation and administration, and creating relationships that foster future joint, shared, or co-operative initiatives.

NOW Program community partner leads are co-producing the final phase of the developmental evaluation. Thank you to Autism Nova Scotia, Immigrant Services Association Nova Scotia, Mi’kmaw Economic Benefits Office, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Native Council of Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Works-Island Employment, Nova Scotia Works TEAMWork Cooperative, Phoenix Youth Programs, Trucking Human Resource Sector Council Atlantic, Valley African Nova Scotia Development Association – Nova Scotia Works Centre, and the YMCA Nova Scotia Works Employment Services Centre for sharing experiences on the NOW program!

Student, Employers Connect at X

St. Francis Xavier University Extension Department’s Innovation and Enterprise Centre (IEC) hosted the annual “Connect @ X” event January 23. Organized by fourth year student Kelsey Bowman, Connect @ X was an opportunity for StFX students to network with local, provincial, and national employers. The event included a dinner, guest speakers, and networking period, as well as a draw for an X-ring for the students attending the event.

Rinujan Kananesan of Renewly Initiatives Inc. was the keynote speaker for the evening. Rinu was born and raised in Toronto, with a Sri Lankan background. With Toronto being such a large and fast-paced city, he realized he was constantly trying to distance himself from the city and immerse himself in nature. His searching led him to Nova Scotia, where he felt he could make the biggest impact and change. Rinu always had a passion for sustainability and the environment, so he decided to join an early stage venture, helping property owners become educated on solar energy.

Sebastian Green of Ignite Labs, Inc provided a short presentation with suggestions and best methods about how students could present themselves to potential employers. Last October, Ignite opened their second innovation hub that is located at the Nova Scotia Community College Pictou County campus. The hub will support entrepreneurial startups in the northern region of the province.

StFX Career Services, StFX Extension, the Centre for Employment Innovation, StFX Co-op Experience, and Northern Connector Program co-hosted the event. Thank you to Nova Scotia Labour and Advanced Education for sponsoring the ultimate X-ring prize and to our Gold sponsors including: Irving, Ignite, Micro Boutique Living, Dalhousie University, AC MacDonald & Murphy Inc., Nova Scotia Health Authority, and the Truro & Colchester Partnership for Economic Prosperity. 989XFM was the media sponsor.

Career Development Professionals Gather in Ottawa

Janice Ainsworth of Nova Scotia Works and Nova Scotia Works TEAMWork Cooperative, Kathy McKee of the Nova Scotia Career Development Association (NSCDA), Amie Haughn and Jennifer Wagg of Employment Nova Scotia, and Jaime Smith of the Centre for Employment Innovation co-presented, “Career Development Elevated: Collective Learnings from System Transformation” at Cannexus20 in Ottawa January 27 to 29. Using Theory U as a framework for their conversation, the panel shared their experiences of transformation, reflecting on the past and looking to the future by highlighting the existing and emerging innovations within employment and career development services across Nova Scotia.

Amie spoke about how Nova Scotia Works started with a vision:

“The essence of Nova Scotia’s transformation of employment services in 2015 was a vision of employment services system partners – service providers, the Centre for Employment Innovation, the Nova Scotia Career Development Association and government – working together to provide a common suite of services in an equitable and inclusive way for job seekers and employers in Nova Scotia,” Amie says.

Janice shared how complex and difficult transformation can be:

“Organizations feel at risk of losing what they have worked so hard to achieve for their clients and staff,” Janice says.

“Working with partners who provided respectful communications and opportunities to openly discuss potential impacts eased us through the rough waters of a very major and inevitable change.”

Kathy ended the panel by reflecting that change can only occur at the speed of trust:

“The new Nova Scotia employment services system has completely changed the way in which the NSCDA develops and executes our work plans,” Kathy says.

“The system has been ‘charged’ to ensure better partner connections and has created an enormous appetite for engagement, consultation, and a willingness to collaborate to make a collective impact. The strength of the partnership has grown as we see that we can do much more together with shared values and goals and most importantly, with high levels of trust.”

To learn more, the presentation can be found on the Cannexus20 website.

Highland Community Enterprise Tables at the Hub

The Centre for Employment Innovation, the Innovation and Enterprise Centre, and Coady Institute team members hosted the Highland Community Enterprise Tables (CET) in the Innovation Hub at St. Francis Xavier University January 28. An initiative of Common Good Solutions, CETs brings together business owners, academics, support organizations, and anyone eager about strengthening their community by discussing what is happening in local community economic development, what supports are available to social enterprises and small businesses, interesting projects going on in the area, and other opportunities.

Employment Engagement Conference Features APTEC

The Native Council of Nova Scotia Aboriginal Peoples Training and Employment Commission (APTEC) hosted a 2020 Employer Engagement Conference on February 6 at the Delta Hotel Dartmouth. This conference was a great opportunity to network with employers as well as hear about the programs Aboriginal Peoples Training & Employment Commission can support during workshops and presentations. Exhibitors and crafters were also on site.

The New Opportunities for Work – Connecting Aboriginal People to Employment program was one of the programs showcased and its participants and employers shared their success in a speaker presentation and through film. Participants and employers that were part of the NOW-CAPE program received recognition and a gift of a framed feather (made by local Indigenous Artist Chelsea Brookes). Stacey Maguire, Suzie McLellan, Doreen Matthews, Tanya Pine, Audrey Lucas, and Rebecca Beeles were among those recognized.

CEI Initiatives 2020 Booklet Released

The Centre for Employment Innovation team is pleased to share its Initiatives 2020 booklet, highlighting the many activities, partnerships, and projects it is engaged with to strengthen the development and delivery of employment services in Nova Scotia. Click here to read.

Upcoming Activities


The Nova Scotia 4-H Leadership Development Conference will take place at St. Francis Xavier University May 8 to 10, 2020. High-school students and 4-H seniors from across Atlantic Canada will participate in workshops and sessions on the Environment and Healthy Living: Let’s Be the Change. In keeping with the 4-H motto “Learn to do by doing”, the program will link academic programs, community work, and/or employment through small-group, hands-on, or interactive sessions.

Conference organizers are seeking community members, students, staff, and faculty to facilitate interacting learning sessions. Proposed topics include, but are not limited to: protection of biodiversity, active transportation, access to nature in everyday places, neighbourhood environment or community/urban design, developing ecological citizenship, waste management/composting, sustainable and resilient food production, community gardens, climate change mitigation, environmental racism, environment and health in all policies, and clean technologies. Email Patti Hansen-Ketchum at phketchu@stfx.ca with ideas connected to Healthy Living and Environment.

Registration is open now until April 14, 2020. Early bird (registration before March 31) is $125 while after March 31 it will be $150. Apply online at 4-H Leadership Development Conference 2020.

The Centre for Employment Innovation will be offering a limited number of scholarships to non-4-H youth who want to learn more about 4-H and/or about leadership in general. Contact cei@stfx.ca to learn more.


The Nova Scotia Career Development Association will host its annual conference June 3 to 5, 2020 in Membertou, Nova Scotia. The conference is an opportunity for career development professionals to attend workshops, listen to keynote speakers, and network. The Centre for Employment Innovation will once again host a pre-conference social innovation lab. Stay tuned for additional details.