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October 5, 2020

Making and celebrating herstory

Since 1992, Canadians have officially marked Women’s History Month in October, celebrating the achievements and contributions of women and girls across the country and throughout our history as business leaders, politicians, researchers, artists, and activists. The month is highlighted by two events in particular: International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, a United Nations international observance dedicated to empowering girls to become female leaders and change-makers; and Persons Day on October 18, marking the day in 1929 that five trail-blazing women fought for and won the right to be appointed to public office and participate equally in all aspects of life in Canada.

While these three events call for celebration, it’s also a time to reflect on what still needs to be addressed to empower more women to achieve their full potential. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted what some are calling a she-cession and similarly the latest data from Statistics Canada shows that female employees still earn $0.87 for every dollar earned by men. We also know that women and girls are more likely to experience gender-based violence, and many Indigenous women and girls are missing and murdered.

Empowering women is essential to continued economic and social growth, especially in the context of a pandemic. In the recent Speech from the Throne, the Liberal government promised to create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy. Colleges and institutes will be vital to the development of this plan, and many already lead initiatives to further the economic well-being of women:

  • George Brown College’s Women Transitioning to Trades and Employment program is an innovative, integrated, and supportive program for women and gender non-binary, trans, and two-spirit people who are looking for stable employment and interested in trades and construction related fields. The program is designed to increase the number of people from under-represented groups entering and being successful in the trades!
  • NorQuest College’s 1000 Women: A Million Possibilities campaign has raised over $3.3 million to support removing financial obstacles for female students and enabling them to pursue education and achieve their goals.
  • At Nova Scotia Community College, the Ocean Awaits Award for Women and Indigenous People, recognizes the significant financial, social and cultural barriers faced by women and Indigenous people when pursuing post-secondary education and aims to offset tuition costs and encourage greater participation in marine training and careers.
  • Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue has been working in partnership over the past three years to adapt its First Nations Police Technologies program (Techniques policières des Premières Nations) to recommendations from the National Inquiry of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
  • Okanagan College’s Gateway to the Building Trades for Women is an all-female, 12-week exploratory program introducing women to trades such as carpentry, automotive, plumbing, and electrical through active participation and exploration.
  • At Aurora College’s Yellowknife North Slave Research Centre, researchers are collaborating on the Welcoming the ‘Sacred Spirit’ projectconnecting Indigenous and western ways of knowing to optimize maternal health delivery. Other areas of focus include femicide, domestic abuse, and women’s health in rural and remote communities.
  • Many colleges and institutes are also involved in our Education for Employment programs abroad, one of the important ways we are working to advance women’s equality. All of these programs aim to help vulnerable populations achieve parity, particularly women, and contribute globally to Sustainable Development Goals 5, 4, and 8: gender equality, quality education, and decent work and economic growth.

A sustainable recovery plan for Canada needs to do more to empower the women, transgender, and gender non-binary individuals in our lives. Through support systems, targeted training opportunities, and female-oriented research projects like these, we can do more to unleash the achievements held back through implicit bias and systemic gender inequality.

Rebuilding a sustainable economy in crisis

In the very first episode of our new Perspectives LIVE series, we looked at sustainability, the future of the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pivotal role colleges and institutes play in their local economies and the fast-evolving skills demands of the labour market.

We owe thanks to our fantastic co-hosts, Andrew Beattie and Camosun College president Sherri Bell, as well as our speakers: Stewart Elgie, Smart Prosperity; John McArthur, Brookings Institution; and Merran Smith, Clean Energy Canada. Watch a recording of the first episode online.

On October 14, we’ll be getting more perspectives on economic recovery and sustainability with another set of speakers in our first French-language episode: Rebâtir une économie durable en situation de crise. Register for free and add it to your calendars!

Apply for expedited funding opportunities through Mitacs and NSERC

Did you know that students can now apply jointly for Mitacs Accelerate internships and NSERC’s College and Community Innovation program in order to expedite applied, research-based solutions that leverage the highly qualified personnel of Canada’s colleges and institutes? This expedited access to funding enables researchers to more rapidly develop answers to today’s challenges ranging from COVID-19 and global pandemics to global warming.

Students can also support Canadian businesses with the Business Strategy Internship from Mitacs, providing grants of $10,000 for students to help develop innovative solutions designed to help an organization thrive in the current economic environment.

To hear more on developments from Mitacs, important news from NSERC, and our recent advocacy on innovation and applied research, join us for our Fall Applied Research Update, tomorrow at 3pm.

Support your institution’s SDG journey with our new toolkit

As we approach our global deadline for the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and focus on what needs to be done to achieve our targets, every action counts. Our new SDG Toolkit for Canadian Colleges and Institutes is a practical guide to the Sustainable Development Goals in post-secondary institutions and CICan’s first open educational resource for colleges and institutes!

The guide identifies, outlines, and categorizes best practices and innovative approaches to finance, academics, student life, infrastructure, and applied research that illustrate how the network of Canadian colleges and institutes is leading Canada’s commitment to sustainable development and achieving the SDGs. The guide also contains tips that you can use to make progress at your institution! Explore the guide and share it with your networks.

The toolkit was developed under the direction of a working group of Canadian post-secondary institutions with the support of Employment and Social Development Canada. Thanks to all those who contributed!

Help international students engage with Canada virtually

International travel has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including many international students who face new restrictions in coming to Canada. This fall, Global Affairs Canada’s EduCanada team is launching a new initiative to foster a sense of belonging and keep international students connected while in their home countries.

Engage with Canada Virtually is a new online platform where international students can get a taste of Canada through curated virtual experiences. Find virtual campus tours and museum visits, watch concerts and Canadian documentaries, learn about Canadian wildlife, or take a virtual hike through one of Canada’s national parks while studying from home!

Have your initiatives featured with EduCanada!

EduCanada needs your help to expand the platform, keep content fresh, and further engage international students. If your institution has a virtual experience or engaging personal story that will help international students experience and enjoy Canada online, share it with EduCanada by email. Follow EduCanada on Facebook and use the hashtag #MyEduCanada to stay connected.

Contribute your expertise to the College Cannabis Consortium

In October 2019, five Canadian institutions launched the College Cannabis Consortium with the goal of generating a cohesive outline of the brand-new cannabis market in Canada, developing relevant training opportunities, establishing a cluster of subject matter experts, and pursuing shared funding for applied research. The pioneering institutions are now looking to increase their reach across Canada through an open call for members!

Those interested in joining the consortium should submit a letter detailing the extent of your institution’s current involvement in the cannabis industry and plans for expansion, including research activities, programs offered, existing strategic relationships, relevant licenses, and what your institution hopes to achieve by joining the consortium. Applications should be submitted before October 30.

Contact Dylan Schoonover at NorQuest College for more information.

The consortium currently includes NorQuest College, Okanagan College, Niagara College, Durham College, and Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick. The call is open to any college, cégep, or polytechnic within CICan’s membership.

Become a Thought Leader in Residence

If you are a dynamic young person aged 18-29 interested in workforce development and leadership transitions, the Canada Council for Youth Prosperity (CCYP) wants to hear from you!

The Thought Leaders in Residence program provides promising, bright young thinkers and doers who are mobilizing and advocating at the grassroots level with an opportunity to learn how to create systems-level change! The program also gives young people access to the workforce development industry, while adding more youth perspectives to CCYP’s advocacy work. Apply online!

CCYP is a national collaboration coordinating and boosting infrastructure that supports the youth workforce development ecosystem and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.

Inclusive pre-apprenticeships pathways: environmental scan

In partnership with the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum we’ve completed the first step in our Inclusive Pre-Apprenticeship Pathways program that will help Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to education, access pre-apprenticeship training designed to support their success!

The environmental scan identifies three different types of pre-apprenticeship programs offered by colleges and institutes, with particular attention paid to programs designed for groups under-represented in trades, including Indigenous peoples, women, new Canadians, visible minorities, youth, and people with disabilities. Read the final report of the Environmental Scan and browse the Pre-Apprenticeship program inventory.

The Inclusive Pre-Apprenticeship Pathways project is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada as part of the Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness program.

Eureka! Moment

Did you know that Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies recently received funding from the Government of Saskatchewan for skills training programs, including Essential Skills for the Workplace, Skills Training Allocation, and on and off-reserve Adult Basic Education programs? SIIT President Riel Bellegarde says that Saskatchewan boasts “young and talented Indigenous population willing to meet the challenges of the post-COVID economy,” and that this funding will ensure SIIT can continue to innovate and offer programs to meet the needs of these Saskatchewanians while supporting the provincial labour market.


BCIT welcomed Trish Pekeles as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services. Pekeles brings over 20 years’ experience in finance, operations, and strategic planning.

Conestoga College named Darin Lee as the college’s new Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Lee brings extensive experience leading institutions through transformative technology and change initiatives to his new role effective October 5.


Submit a nomination for CICan’s Awards of Excellence. Deadline: December 6.

Support Youth Employtability in Kenya. Deadline: October 19.

Stay safe and healthy on campus. Download the COVID Alert app.

Send Us Your News

One of our main goals at Colleges and Institutes Canada is to champion and share the innovations and awesomeness of our members. You can help! We want to hear about your new applied research, industry and community partnerships, international education, important financial investments and more. Add to your media mailing lists! We’ll share member institution News Releases and other upcoming announcements online and with our national media contacts based in Ottawa.