Marcella Blanchard was raised in Welland, Ontario and graduated from Brock University with a degree in therapeutic recreation. She worked many years in geriatric care and, in 2020, made a career pivot to youth services. Marcella now works at a non-profit organization, called NPAAMB (Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board) as a Youth Navigator. Along with her colleagues at NPAAMB, she helps urban Indigenous youth to navigate social systems and access services with the goal of minimizing barriers to employment and training.
From celebrating wins and sending daily motivational messages to teaching healthy work habits to supporting their overall wellbeing, Marcella guides youth on their journey to leading meaningful and fulfilling careers. Being deeply inspired by her own Indigenous heritage and identity, she takes a distinct culturally-informed approach in supporting the youth to express their authentic identities and integrate across the various communities they’re part of.
At the age of seven, Marcella’s grandmother, who was a residential school survivor, passed away. One of her greatest joys within her work are the many moments of connection to her grandma, and in facilitating the connection of the youth she works with back to their ancestors and roots. Marcella brings her heart and whole self to work and it’s clear that that work-life integration is key to why she is so exceptional at what she does.
We (at the Niagara Workforce Planning Board) have had the opportunity to engage with Marcella and her colleagues over the past year. These conversations and their insights have informed our work moving forward and have exemplified the importance of collaborating with organizations like NPAAMB to better understand the experiences of Indigenous peoples and underrepresented youth within the system of work.
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.