HALIFAX: The project lead for a new diversity initiative says those who don’t look like society’s majority are going to fall short somewhere, and it usually affects the individual’s quality of life.
Fifteen African Nova Scotians and people of African descent will be hired at Nova Scotia Works employment services centres across the province to ensure service providers better reflect the communities they serve.
The initiative, which is called the Diversity and Inclusion Program is led by the Centre for Employment and Innovation (CEI) at StFX University.
Angela Bear, CEI’s navigator of new initiatives, will be working with Black leaders within the Nova Scotia Works employment services system on the program that will ensure career services providers better reflect the communities they serve.
“Our hope and goal is to create more resilient and diverse, inclusive yet welcoming workplaces, [which] we have to also think in terms of our systems and the communities that we serve,” Bear told The Reporter. “We know a large number of these locations serve communities with large populations of African Nova Scotians, so we’re trying to be more welcoming and inclusive by allowing community to see themselves reflected in the services within their communities.”
She highlighted these permanent career practitioner positions will work one-on-one with job-seekers, supporting access to quality training and employment.
“As an African Nova Scotian woman, this program gives me hope,” Bear said. “I believe this is the first initiative of its kind done in this way, across the province, with Black practitioners and leaders in a system that is meant to serve everyone.”
The sole purpose of the Nova Scotia Works employment services centres, she said, is to offer inclusive services. Some individuals who are skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable may have complex needs and face barriers that can place them in the under-represented category in finding sustainable employment.
“It adds a cultural lens to it,” Bear explained.
She said one thing in particular that is known, African Nova Scotians have historically experienced multiple systemic barriers, starting with education, which also extends to training and employment.
“It’s opening doors for a number of opportunities to extend the access to the services that we offer here through the Nova Scotia Works employment services centre,” Bear said. “And also to bridge any gaps and help grow and develop the relationships with the communities that they serve.”
She said having Black individuals from communities working within their communities can only better support and improve the relationship they have and ensure the community has a better connection to the services offered.
The Province of Nova Scotia announced the new Diversity and Inclusion Program and $2.5 million in program funding from the Canada-Nova Scotia Labour Market Development Agreement on October 5.
The program was created by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the Centre for Employment and Innovation, the Nova Scotia Career Development Association and several employment service providers representing African Nova Scotian and people of African descent communities.
Partnering with the CEI on the Diversity and Inclusion Program are 12 Nova Scotia Works employment services providers including; Career Connections with offices in Antigonish, Guysborough, Canso, and Sherbrooke; and the Island Employment Association with offices in Port Hawkesbury, Cheticamp, Inverness, St. Peter’s, and Arichat.