2022 Nova Scotia Career and Employment Student Symposium

A virtual event featuring research presentations by post-secondary students from across Nova Scotia whose research or summer employment connects to career development, employment, and labour.

About the Symposium

The 2022 Nova Scotia Career and Employment Student Symposium took place virtually on August 16th -17th, 2022.

Hosted by the Centre for Employment Innovation, the symposium was composed of presentations from post-secondary student interns from across Nova Scotia. The event highlighted research and emerging best practices of students working in the career development, employment, and labour field. The content of the presentations was timely and specifically connected to research which occurred and/or best practices experienced by the students during the summer of 2022.

The two-day symposium consisted of 7 sessions, with most sessions concluding with a final Q&A for the presenters.

The topics of the research presentations were grouped into the below main themes:

Innovative Methods and PracticesClick to Watch!

Inclusive and Welcoming Workplaces Click to Watch!

Diversity and Inclusion Policies and Practices Recording not available.

Experiences of Employment Seekers Click to Watch! 

Poster Hour Recording not available.

Supporting Economic Empowerment for Women and Girls – Click to Watch!

Gendered Experiences in Employment Click to Watch!

To learn more about the content of each presentation, we encourage you to read the session details below.


 – DAY 1 –



August 16, 2022

10:30 AM – 12:00 PM (ADT)


Communities of Practice in Practice

Communities of Practice have emerged as a way for people at every level of a team to interact and share common knowledge, challenges, and new ideas with one another to facilitate forward progress. This project aimed to investigate how groups of people come together to collaborate effectively in their workplace as well as with other organizations involved in similar work. Survey data from Nova Scotia Works student interns and a literature review were used in combination with information gathered during a semi-structured engagement session with the CEI team to support the research.

Kristen Marshall

Kristen Marshall is entering her third year at StFX where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics. This summer, Kristen worked as the Nova Scotia Works Intern for the CEI where she facilitated bi-weekly communities of learning for NSW Interns across Nova Scotia.


Social Impact Assessments: The What, Why, and How 

Social Impact Assessments (SIA) are a key process in determining how a project is impacting the individuals and communities they intend to serve. By undertaking a SIA, organizations are able to gain a better understanding of the impact their projects or organization are having, thus enabling them to take action to mitigate or enhance these impacts. This presentation will present information about the process of social impact assessments, the importance of these assessments, and guidelines for implementation.

Hannah James

Hannah James is a student intern working with the CEI this summer as the Impact Student Intern. In this role, she has been developing a business case surrounding social impact assessment. She is going into her 4th year at St. Francis Xavier University in the BASc in Health Program.


Participatory Leadership Development: A Case Study

Effective leadership within career development organizations is critical to best support staff and community members, especially amidst uncertainty and change. This session will focus on the Nova Scotia Works system’s approach to strengthening leadership capacities across the province. The participatory design process will be highlighted as well as key leadership competencies/development opportunities that emerged from interviews, communities of practice, and research.

Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy is a current StFX university student hailing from Antigonish, NS. Jack is entering his fourth year at StFX with plans to earn joint majors in Economics and Finance. He is presently working within the Centre of Employment Innovation, filling the Future of Leadership internship role.

 – DAY 1 –



August 16, 2022

1:00 – 2:30 PM (ADT)


Creating an Inclusive and Diverse Workplace

The CEI conducted an environmental scan to get a sense of the current state of diversity and inclusion policy and practice within Nova Scotia’s not-for-profit, governmental, and business sectors. The goal of this presentation is three-fold: first, it will highlight the findings of the environmental scan while providing an overview of the main themes that emerged from the research; second, it will discuss the importance of having specific D&I policies and practices. Finally, it will examine the following theme: “creating a safe workspace” while also examining several exemplary D&I practices.

Alaa Salih

Through her work at the CEI, Alaa Salih has developed a deep understanding of the different approaches that can be used to create positive social change. She has also gained the necessary knowledge and skills needed to effectively work with and support diverse groups and underrepresented populations.


A First Voice Perspective of LGBTQ+ Youth Inclusion in the Workplace

This session will introduce the audience to the process of creating a first voice podcast series about LGBTQ+ youth experiences in the workplace. May Lawless organized a podcast under the supervision of Addy Strickland and will cover how to plan a project like this as well as why the project is important for engagement in the workplace. May will reflect on the importance of communication in the workplace and what policies are effective for creating safe spaces as well as inclusive workplaces.

May Lawless

May Lawless is the Youth Engagement and Research Intern at the CEI. They are from a rural community and have witnessed the dwindling of youth in the workplace. As an LGBTQ+ student, they are interested in the perspectives of LGBTQ+ youth in the workplace because of their own experiences.


Employment Equity: Doing Better for Students and Recent Graduates

Equity deserving groups such as the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, BIPOC people, and folks with dis/abilities, still face significant barriers to gaining meaningful employment in Nova Scotia. This research focuses on the lived experiences of equity deserving Dalhousie students and alumni striving to obtain meaningful employment. This discovery examines what these groups face when accessing and navigating the labor market, in addition to the EDIA supports and resources they expect from their employers. This presentation also focuses on what EDIA committed employers are currently doing to attract, engage, and support these equity deserving groups.

Vicki Mackintosh

Vicki Mackintosh (she/they) is a master’s student at Dalhousie University. She is currently working with the Bissett Student Success Centre as the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) Employer Development Assistant, working on the discovery of equitable hiring and recruitment. They are also passionate about equity advocacy.

 – DAY 1 –



AUGUST 16, 2022

2:45 – 4:15 PM (ADT)


What is the Nature and Extent of Employment-Based Racism Towards Nurses in Canada: A Scoping Review

Employment-based racism towards nurses is a pressing issue in Canada, not only because racialized nurses compose a considerable proportion of the Canadian Nursing workforce, but it is also a social justice imperative that equitable working conditions exist for racialized nurses. This presentation will describe a protocol for a prospective scoping review on racism towards nurses. The author hopes that this presentation will encourage audience members to critically reflect on nursing employment in order to nurture interest in equitable work environments.

Randy SĂ©bastien Charles

Randy SĂ©bastien Charles (He/Him) is a nursing student from the Rankin School of Nursing at St. Francis Xavier University who conducts research on the social experiences of marginalized nurses, especially those who are racialized. SĂ©bastien is excited to open discussion on this important issue.


Tokenism and Employee Advocacy: Critical Review of Targeted Workforce Attachment Interventions

The focus of this research is to critically examine workforce attachment programs and the tokenization that occurs. Tokenism is the hiring practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture as in offering opportunities to minorities equal to those of majority. This research will clearly name and identify what is working and what does not work within targeted workforce interventions, with a focus on presenting recommendations to support better practice.

Kevanya Simmons

Kevanya Simmons is a recent graduate from St.FX with a BA in Aquatic Resources, Public Policy and Social Research with distinction. Kevanya was inspired to commit to social change in and outside the classroom. When first learning about the CIIYE and its emerging research tokenism within the labor force.

 – DAY 2 –



August 17, 2022

9:15 – 10:45 AM (ADT)


Refugee Newcomers Strategies for Seeking Employment in Rural Communities

Drawing from a study of refugees resettling in Nova Scotia, this presentation focuses on the how refugee newcomers transition into the Canadian labor market in rural communities. Newcomers have diverse educational and employment backgrounds. Finding work in Canada is influenced by newcomers’ language proficiency and the transferability of their diploma, certificates, or other required credentials for employment in their field in Canada. Many newcomers discover that it is challenging to acquire Canadian credentials, especially if it involves post-secondary education. The data suggest that newcomers co-navigate finding employment by accessing supports and services within the community and from resettlement volunteers. We discuss the significance of newcomers’ striving to develop local networks and social capital to help them navigate this new Canadian employment terrain.

Sarah McKnight

Sarah McKnight is entering her fourth year at StFX. She is in a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Sociology. Sarah is working under the supervision of Dr. Norine Verberg, who studies the Economic Transitions of Refugee Newcomers Resettling in Rural Nova Scotia.


The Relationship between Unemployed/Underemployed Individuals and their Experiences in the K-12 System among Rural Populations

There are a plethora of mitigating factors that affect one’s ability to secure employment that remain outside of the individual’s control, and which are often magnified in rural communities. The link between adverse school experiences and NEET status (not in education, employment or training) remains an under researched topic. The research Kenyan will be presenting seeks to identify how the participants perceive the impact of their experiences during K-12 education on their propensity for navigating the intricacies of participating in the workforce.

Kenyan Nagy

Kenyan Nagy is a recent graduate of St. Francis Xavier University’s Bachelor of Education program. He has taught a variety of different learners in various socioeconomic contexts and has seen first-hand how adverse school experiences can negatively impact a student’s success.


Barriers to Sustainable Employment, Pathways to Success & The Future 

This presentation examines barriers to sustainable employment, pathways to success and the future of sustainable employment. It explores sustainable employment by definition and how it’s seen in the labor market and how availability is decreasing. It also examines prominent barriers facing sustainable employment. As a result, this presentation will elaborate on initiatives through the Government of Canada and other organizations that aid Nova Scotians in locating meaningful and long-term employment as well as the projected outlook for sustainable employment in the coming years.

Lacey Martell

Lacey Martell currently works as an IRS Summer Intern at YMCA of CB Nova Scotia Works. She covers the 3 CBRM locations and advises clients on all programs offered by the organization. She is currently a Dalhousie University student in her second year, where she is part of the Rotaract Club of Halifax. 

 – DAY 2 –



AUGUST 17, 2022

11:00 AM – 12:00 PM (ADT)


Indigenous Entrepreneurs Navigating the Canadian Cannabis Industry

According to Isadore Day, former Assembly of First Nations Ontario Regional Chief, Indigenous Peoples in Canada did not recognize and consult the concerns of First Nations during the passing of Bill C-45, or the Cannabis Act. The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada will have a prodigious effect on society and economics, a shift in which the Indigenous Peoples must be included. If the Indigenous Peoples were considered, First Nations would be witnessing similar economic growth as the rest of Canada. Through this study, we seek to determine how Indigenous entrepreneurs are navigating the Canadian cannabis industry. Specifically, we are interested in the barriers to entry. The data tells us that the Indigenous Peoples want to participate in the industry, but there are very few licensed cannabis companies that are Indigenous. What is the cause of this discrepancy?

Cassidy Pettipas

Cassidy Pettipas is an Antigonish local who is pursuing Joint-Honours in Business and Economics. Her favourite topics in her classes are international trade, social issues, and economic development. She is an Indigenous student who wants to learn more about her ancestors and their economic hardships.


Assessing the Value of Entrepreneurial and Experiential Learning activities for Human Nutrition Undergraduate students at St. Francis Xavier University

Interest in entrepreneurship and experiential learning activities among university students has increased. Their impact on Human Nutrition students is unknown. To assess the effectiveness of these experiences on knowledge and other skills, and to identify barriers to participation, a 35-question survey will be distributed to Human Nutrition students and recent graduates. Responses will be grouped into themes, and significant difference will be determined by one-way variance analysis and post-hoc comparisons with SPSS. Findings could facilitate changes in the StFX Human Nutrition curriculum.

Ana Maria Bejarano-Martinez

Ana Maria is a Nutrition graduate who starts her Dietetic internships this Fall. She has worked on research projects in curriculum revision at the Teaching and Learning Centre and managed a small business in 2020. Her current research project assesses experiential/entrepreneurial activities in HNU.


Digital Portfolios: Showcase your Skills and Stand Out from the Crowd

In an increasingly online world, digital portfolios are becoming more valuable. A digital portfolio is evidence of a learner’s transferable skills, including highly sought critical thinking and continuous learning skills, and proficiency in a digital environment. A digital portfolio will be an essential tool to support transitions of many kinds – for example, as a vehicle for job seekers to showcase their strengths. Learn how you could benefit from having a digital portfolio.

Leah Vidito

Leah Vidito studies Social Justice and Community Studies, as well as Political Science, at Saint Mary’s University. A summer intern at the NSCDA in 2020, 2021, and 2022, Leah co-developed the Digital Portfolio course.


Undergraduate International Black Women’s Transition from University to Employment at St. Francis Xavier University

The objective of this study is to assist and understand the transition from university to employment among international students who identify as Black women at St. Francis Xavier University. Our understanding of this transition will be effective in illuminating the resources that are and aren’t in place to support this group’s successful adjustment into the workforce. Support such as, career resources and mentorship opportunities at the university. In addition, there are deeper factors that are being examined here that make this research incredibly important to the subject of race and gender.

Lidet O’Connor

Lidet O’Connor is an Ethiopian adoptee who grew up in New Hampshire for most of her life. As a Women’s and Gender Studies Major and having worked with the BLACC Student Society in her first year, she started to see intersections in how Black students (women specifically) can be better supported.

 – DAY 2 –



August 17, 2022

1:00 – 2:30 PM (ADT)


Women’s Economic Empowerment Through a Financial Literacy Curriculum: A Pilot Study

Although the literature has repeatedly identified a common lack of understanding surrounding personal finance topics, there are few programs in place to address this concern. One of the more acute problems that has been uncovered is that women generally know less about financial management than men. This session will focus on the importance of financial literacy in the lives of women. More specifically, the discussion will draw upon an ongoing study aiming to evaluate a program designed to address this gap in resources: Allstate Foundation’s Moving Ahead Through Financial Management.  

Allison Hancock

Allison Hancock will graduate StFX University in 2023 with a BA Honours in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology. Inspired by her recent practicum placement with Naomi Society, she is looking to gain a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health that exist for women.


Oral Contraception: A Feminist Dilemma

Oral contraception promotes autonomy but continues to impose a dilemma on intersectional feminism by subverting the goals of the movement. This research undertakes a typology on philosophical, feminist, and empirical readings and data that elucidate the subversion; this includes harsh physical, mental, financial, socio-economic, and research implications that oral contraception burdens those who have uteruses. Oral contraception and feminism should not be disregarded, though. This thesis is a major call to action that reproductive justice has yet to be achieved. Knowledge about reproductive health is power. This knowledge can assist employers and HR departments in understanding the seriousness of reproductive health and subsequently develop policies surrounding it. For instance, Spain passed a bill in 2022 granting those who possess a uterus menstrual days (Iqbal, 2022). Canada should consider enacting similar policies, and the information in my thesis will explain why.

Sarah Turnbull

Sarah Turnbull is in her fourth year studying Philosophy at St. Francis Xavier University. Her academic interests lie in philosophy, feminism, feminist philosophy, ethics and ethical dilemmas. Her personal interests lie in birth control and reproductive health, and their implications for all aspects of society. 

 – DAY 2 –



AUGUST 17, 2022

2:45 – 4:15 PM (ADT)


Implications of Nova Scotia’s Transition to a Public Childcare Model on Women as Childcare Owners and Providers

This research explores the implications of the new publicly funded childcare policy in Nova Scotia, and effects of the transition for women as providers and owners. It explores the gendered aspects associated with the policy change in Nova Scotia, and its impact on the careers and livelihoods of workers and leaders in the field. Reporting on a series of interviews with owners and care providers, the project aims to assess if and how the transition to the new public system will alleviate or contribute to ongoing concerns about childcare accessibility, equity, and quality in Nova Scotia.

Kaytland Smith

Kaytland Smith is in the Public Policy and Governance honors program at St Francis Xavier University. She has a background in municipal politics and is a founding board member of Government FOCUS. Kaytland is a champion of women in the political field and municipal government enthusiast.