My name is Felicia Ann Coutu and my journey with the Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) started when I met Marie Bowering, Indigenous Graduation Coach in the adult learning program I was doing at the time. I was feeling a little lost after the pandemic suddenly interrupted my high school experience so Marie had suggested I check out NPAAMB.
On NPAAMB’s website, I found a job ad for the position of Community Relations Assistant at NWPB (through CreateAction*), calling for someone to help engage communities on social media and the web through researching and writing about people’s diverse work experiences. I applied because I thought, “What do I have to lose?” I ended up applying early so the waiting process kind of made me think it was a long shot. Until I got an email back with a time for an interview. Turns out I did well on the interview and ended up getting the job.
My work experience has been outstanding and I truly loved working alongside Rachel Crane (Learning & Engagement Lead at NWPB) as my mentor. Through CreateAction, I participated in regular professional development sessions and Friday sharing circles. My work placement was within NWPB, where some of my responsibilities were to create content for Twitter and our blog, interview and produce stories featuring people’s career journeys and ways of working, and collect data in focus groups for our immigrant employment project. I also attended weekly meetings with Rachel, maintained an agenda with action items each week and developed my time management and communication skills.
This work experience has helped me with my writing skills a ton. I used to be super insecure about my writing, but the longer I worked with Rachel, the more confidence I gained. I also learned about different career pathways, training programs and opportunities. Just as I was finishing my work contract with NWPB, I started Oya:na** to help me finish my high school diploma. Oya:na is 22 week program (through NPAAMB) that helps you grow. Within this program I should be able to obtain 12 high school credits, skills certifications and more!
The career path I am going to pursue is Social Work. I feel like working for a community organization like Niagara Workforce Planning Board really helped with that. My reason I feel this is that Rachel has really helped guide me towards figuring out what I want to do and I am in a better position now to achieve my goals.
Written by: Felicia Coutu
*CreateAction facilitates employment and career-relevant learning opportunities to young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) and facing barriers to employment to further their career in community economic development and the social economy. Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) and the National Association of Friendship Centres work in partnership to deliver the CreateAction program with funding by Employment and Social Development Canada and with evaluation support from the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation.
** Oya:na, led by Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board (NPAAMB), is an employment and life skills program for urban Aboriginal youth who are interested in developing and enhancing their employability and life skills through a culture-based program.
In 2018-2019, NWPB completed a Youth Engagement Strategy project which examined “successful” youth employment as indicated by: access to jobs, and quality of jobs (e.g., full- or part-time employment), and job satisfaction. Since then, we’ve tracked employment trends for youth and have engaged with various youth networks to gauge pandemic impacts on employment, education and training, as well as gain insight into what local initiatives or supports are valuable to them. Check out our blog series highlighting data and stories from youth in Niagara and 2021-22 Youth in Niagara report to learn more.
We are collecting data to better understand who is looking for work and what kind of opportunities jobseekers are searching for. This data is completely anonymous and non-personally identifiable.