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December 10, 2018

2018, A Year in Review

Around the world, a lot happened in 2018! From cannabis to clean energy, here’s a quick look at five of the hottest topics in Canada this past year and what they meant for our members.

Cannabis legalization

On October 17, Canada became the second country in the world to legalize recreational use and possession of cannabis. While many of the details are still being hammered out by Canada’s provinces and territories, colleges and institutes have stepped up to fill the training void in in every aspect of the burgeoning industry.

Even before legalization, programs in areas from cultivation and facilities management to sales and business fundamentals were launched and expanded at colleges and institutes across the country. Moving forward, these ground-breaking programs – some even making international headlines in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Reuters – will ensure that Canada meets the workforce demand in all aspects of the emerging cannabis industry.

Support for Innovation

Innovation has been a hot topic for many years, but in 2018, we saw a few concrete investments in expanding Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

The federal government officially announced the five initiatives that would receive $950 million as part of its Innovation Superclusters Initiative in February. The Digital Technology Supercluster, Protein Industries Supercluster, Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, SCALE.AI Supercluster, and Ocean Supercluster are expected to grow Canada’s economy by $50 billion over the next 10 years. Each one of the superclusters will rely heavily on collaboration between a wide range of innovation players, including more than 30 colleges and institutes.

Budget 2018 also committed $140 million over five years for research and innovation via the critically important College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program, which will help fuel the growth of applied research in institutions across the country and generate new innovation partnerships that benefit businesses, students and their communities. And, within Québec, the provincial government also announced funding of $20 million for the creation of 10 new College Centres for the Transfer of Technology (CCTT).

Climate Action

In January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight, citing increasing global temperatures and high carbon dioxide emissions among the major threats to the world. Later, wildfires raged across the globe, including British Columbia, California, Greece, Spain, parts of Scandinavia, and Australia, prompting many global leaders to action. In December, the Government of Canada – deeply committed to action on climate change – released a draft Federal Sustainable Development Strategy outlining its priorities for Canada’s environmental sustainability.

Colleges and institutes stood out as leaders in climate action, including:

Indigenous education

The United Nations, in its third Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights, urged Canada to improve its treatment of Indigenous people, particularly women and girls.
Budget 2018 committed $2 billion over five years to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program which will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) to help Indigenous people develop the skills they need to find meaningful employment. As the main providers of adult education and upskilling, colleges and institutes play a vital role in breaking down barriers to postsecondary education for vulnerable groups, particularly Indigenous populations.

In June, CICan’s Indigenous Education Protocol celebrated the milestone of its 50th signatory! Since June, an additional 14 CICan members have committed to the seven principles of the protocol, bringing the grand total of signatories to 64. And, next December, the Protocol will celebrate its five-year anniversary!

Social Innovation

Canada made headlines this year by becoming a leader in social finance, announcing $755 million over ten years for the creation of a new Social Finance Fund that will support charitable, non-profit, and social purpose organizations in implementing their innovative ideas to drive positive social change.

Over the past few years, CICan has led the Government of Canada’s first social impact bond pilot project, the Essential Skills Social Finance (ESSF) pilot, which brought essential skills training to adult learners, and achieved measurable skills improvements among participants. With Phase 2 of the project ending this year, a full report on the success and impact of the project will be released soon.

CICan is also embarking on a project with the McConnell Foundation to support our work on social and economic inclusion. Building on proposals gathered through a series of workshops involving over 50 CICan member CEOs and senior leaders, the three-year, $600,000 initiative will be anchored in the vision and priorities of CICan’s new Strategic Plan, to be launched in 2019.

Important steps were taken this year towards unlocking Canada’s potential for inclusive economic growth. We are looking forward to seeing how colleges and institutes continue to demonstrate their leadership in innovation, skills, and inclusiveness in the year ahead!

Conference 2019 registration is now open!

Join us in Niagara Falls! CICan’s annual conference is the largest event of its kind in Canada and gathers post-secondary education leaders from across the country and around the world to network, share best practices, and be inspired as we envision together the future of colleges and institutes. 

We are also pleased to announce our first keynote speaker: Vikram Vij, Celebrity Chef & Acclaimed Entrepreneur! Born in India, Vij pursued his studies in Austria, where he received his chef certificate from the Salzburg Hotel Management School. After moving to Canada in 1989, Vij began working at the Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, and in 2000, Vij became a certified sommelier from the International Sommelier Guild. He is passionate about pairing wines with his cuisine.

With the theme Inclusion: A Recipe for Success, this year’s conference will be divided into six thematic streams: Leading Success, Future Ready, Student Success, Innovative Education, Entrepreneurial Approaches, and Going Global.

Join us, and our host Niagara College from May 5-7, 2019! Register now!

Save the Date! National Symposium on Continuing Education

In a world of rapid technological and economic change, workers now expect to switch jobs throughout their lifetimes, see sectors disrupted, and continuously develop new skills.

On this topic, CICan and the Fédération des cégeps are hosting a national symposium, “Training and the Labour Market – Always Evolving!” from February 28 to March 1st, 2019 in Montreal, QC.

With the themes of Digital Transformation, Matching Training to Employment, Work-Integrated Learning, and Emerging Knowledge and Innovative Approaches, the symposium will engage participants on how to better respond to changes in the labour market and to the needs of a diversified student body, including new immigrants, international students, Indigenous populations, and other under-represented groups.

The event will provide an opportunity to meet and exchange with experts and leaders from colleges and institutes, the labor market, and governments, regarding issues and best practices for continuing education and training in the workplace.

Those interested in presenting on one of the topics should send a short abstract to Bruce Landry at

Don’t miss this event – stay tuned for registration!

KEFEP hosts successful blue economy event in Nairobi

CICan’s Kenya Education for Employment Program (KEFEP) hosted an education-focused event on the heels of the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference organized by the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the Governments of Canada and Japan.

The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions as Leaders of Sustainable Innovation in the Blue Economy event welcomed over 100 participants in Nairobi, Kenya, and featured presentations on how KEFEP’s partner institutions contribute to the Blue Economy through education, innovation, applied research and industry partnerships.

The event featured a panel presentation and discussion and a structured networking session to allow for conference participants from government, industry, and civil society to engage with colleges, institutes, and other TVET institutions to learn how these institutions can play a leading role in driving sustainable economic growth.

Dr. Kevit Desai, Principal Secretary in the State Department of Vocational and Technical Education of the Ministry of Education of Kenya was one of 6 panelists as well as three Canadian college representatives: Patricia Bowron, Vice President, Partnership and Advancement, College of the Rockies; Bill Chislett, Director, Marine Institute of Memorial University; and, Dr. Kerry Surman, Chair, Business Administration, Algonquin College.

The event also featured the recently premiered 30-minute KEFEP video documentary produced by Durham College.

CICan welcomes Pacific Alliance delegation

CICan was pleased to welcome a delegation from Pacific Alliance embassies to discuss its Pacific Alliance Education for Employment Program (EFE-PA). Chile was represented by Ambassador to Canada Alejandro Marisio Cugat and First Secretary Sebastian Molina; Ambassador Roberto Rodriguez and the mission’s Deputy Chief Carlos Garcia Palacios represented Peru; and Colombia’s delegation consisted of Juan Camilo Vargas, Minister Counsellor, and Counsellor Maria Fernanda Forero.

This exciting and informative session was an opportunity to discuss the Pacific Alliance delegation’s participation in CICan’s Annual Conference in Victoria last May and the official launch of institutional alliances with each of the four countries. Ambassadors from Chile and Peru expressed considerable interest in attending the 2019 CICan Conference in Niagara!

The visit was also an opportunity to reflect upon the projects accomplished in 2018-2019, to present upcoming activities, and to discuss future meetings with Pacific Alliance technical groups, upcoming institutional alliance missions in Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, and the various EFE-PA forums.

Please note: This will be the last issue of Perspectives in 2018. We look forward to reconnecting with you in the new year! Regular publication will resume on January 14, 2019.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that in 2018, CICan had the pleasure of welcoming five college and institute leaders to our office in Ottawa to share successes, challenges, and strategies in post-secondary education? Thank you to Marlyn Graziano, Vice President, External Affairs at Kwantlen Polytechnic; Yvon Laberge, Director General of Collège Éducacentre; Marcel Côté, Director General of Cégep régional de Lanaudière; Guy Paradis, Director General of Cégep de Jonquière; and Stuart Cullum, President of Olds College. Each visit is incredible valuable to all of us at CICan to better serve our members. We hope to have more in the coming year – let us know when you are in Ottawa!


Langara College was pleased to welcome a new Provost and Vice President, Academic and Students. With over 25 years of experience as an academic leader in post-secondary education, Dr. Ben Cecil will take on the position effective January 7, 2019.

St. Lawrence College (SLC) also welcomed two new vice presidents. Coming most recently from Humber College, Eileen DeCourcy joined SLC in November as the new Senior Vice President, Academic. Kathy O’Brien, with senior leadership experience in both private and public sector, joined SLC as Senior Vice President, Strategy, Communications & Advancement in December.

Cégep Édouard-Montpetit was also pleased to announce the appointment of Pascal Désilets as the new Director of the cégep’s École nationale d’aérotechnique (ÉNA). M. Désilets served as chair of Réseau Trans-Tech’s Board of Directors from 2014 to 2016 and received a CICan Award of Excellence in Leadership in 2011.


Conference 2019

Join us in Niagara Falls for CICan’s annual conference! Register now.

Send Us Your News

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