Topic: Education

University of Sudbury Indigenous Studies – since 1975

The University of Sudbury (UofS) is a bilingual and tri-cultural university committed to promoting the culture, values, perspectives and realities of Indigenous peoples. It is located on the traditional lands of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and the Wahnapitae First Nation.

The UofS offers programs in Indigenous Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Folklore and Journalism.

Indigenous Studies
This long-standing department promotes an understanding of Indigenous peoples, their ways of being and knowing, aspirations, rights and contributions. It welcomes Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and is inclusive of First Nations, Inuit and Métis perspectives. It is a leader in providing quality education in Indigenous knowledge and practice, within traditional and contemporary contexts. Key areas of study include:

Health and wellness – examines contemporary health problems that Indigenous peoples face.
Politics and law – encompasses Indigenous and treaty rights, governance and decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty and settler relations.
Social justice – examines issues in family and community life, from the perspectives of social policy and family law.
Traditional environmental knowledge – takes a traditional approach to global environmental challenges.
Culture – focuses on the interplay of traditional values, identity, spirituality and the language;
Courses on Nishnaabemwin and Cree are also offered.

Currently, all classes are offered in a distance format. Normally, delivery options include: In-class, distance, part-time

Nishnaabe-gkendaaswin Teg Arbour (“Where Indigenous Knowledge is”)
This is a sacred outdoor space to sit with ancestors, receive teachings, explore one’s place within Creation, and share in peace, understanding and contemplation. It is mainly used by the students and faculty of the UofS, but available to others for appropriate ceremonies and occasions.

Fiancial Aid
The UofS is dedicated to making education financially accessible by providing many scholarships, bursaries, and awards. Some of those offered specifically to Indigenous students:


With the help of donors, the UofS is pleased to offer substantial continuing scholarship opportunities ($5,000 to $7,000 yearly, per recipient) to Indigenous students.

Visit to learn more!

College of the Rockies announces winter semester plans

College of the Rockies’ focus remains on ensuring students get the education they need to prepare for their futures, while keeping health and safety as the priority.

Therefore, the College’s winter semester will look very similar to the fall’s, with most programs being delivered online. On-campus learning, including a blend of online and face-to-face, will continue for programs which require hands-on learning, delivered under enhanced health and safety protocols, as directed by the Provincial Health Officer.

“Most students will complete their courses online, however programs like health, trades, and science labs do require some on-site participation,” said Paul Vogt, College of the Rockies President and CEO. “Any on-campus classes will take part in small groups, with physical distancing and other public health guidelines in place.”

In the fall semester, 40 per cent of students took part in either face-to-face (f2f) or blended (both f2f and online) learning. The College anticipates a similar look to the upcoming semester.

All College campuses remain open and will continue to operate in a different way. Students with a current student ID can access the Library, Campus Store, Enrolment Services, some computer labs, and quiet study spaces. The gym and weight room will also be available to support student health and wellbeing. Services like academic advising and counselling are being delivered virtually.

The College’s Indigenous Education team, consisting of Resident Elders, Student Navigator, Student Mentors, Indigenous Education Coordinator/Advisor, and Director of Indigenous Strategy and Reconciliation, are also available through virtual appointments. This team can assist with funding applications, financial supports, awards and bursaries, applications, advocacy, academic planning, and more.

With more than 20 years of experience in offering classes, and even full programs, online, College of the Rockies faculty are well-prepared to meet the learning needs of students.

Learn more at

Helping Build Brighter Futures – Dumont Technical Institute Inc.

The COVID-19 Pandemic changed the landscape for everyone this spring. For those of us in adult education, we recognized the need to respond swiftly and creatively in order to continue to deliver the high-quality programming needed to support our Métis students, families and communities. The staff collaborated to ensure that our students were able to finish their courses, graduate and move forward on their educational or employment paths. 

DTI staff determined the need for consistency in programs moving forward in this new world of physical distancing, and implemented the Brightspace Learning Management System. This platform would allow for staff to help transform educational programming and delivery through the use of a ‘hybrid’ delivery system model, so students could take classes in a blend of online and in-person sessions. Brightspace gives DTI the capacity to deliver all of our programs online if required. 

In addition to gaining the ability to provide classes in the hybrid model, DTI students were set up with the appropriate technology to allow them to do their studies at a distance. Adult Basic Education students and students in our longer term skills training programs were set up with chrome books or laptops complete with student emails and the required programs installed and ready to use, to make their transition to online learning as simple as possible. 

DTI has made sure to reduce class sizes to allow for a safe distances between students within the classrooms, and have provided reusable masks to every student and staff member, ensuring that additional personal protective equipment and hand sanitizing options are readily available at all learning centres. 

Students of Dumont Technical Institute have had a very positive response to the hybrid learning model, as many found the spring incredibly difficult as they felt disconnected from their school family and the supports that in person training provides. Students in our skills training programs also found it difficult to practice their hands-on learning that would have otherwise been taught in a lab setting. Students appreciate the in-person time that they have with their instructors and classmates in the classroom and lab settings and feel more confident in their skill development. 

Native Education College

At Native Education College, a wide range of services available to students make all the difference when it comes to the success of our learners, especially those facing barriers. From our Elder-in-residence program to the NEC Wellness Warriors, students quickly gain a sense of pride and acceptance from the community of staff, alumni, and fellow students. No matter where you’re from, NEC will feel like home. 

One program that can help kickstart your education journey is the Indigenous Land Stewardship program. ILS offers students career preparation in land and resource management as well as a gateway to higher education. This one-year certificate program consists of ten courses rooted in Indigenous knowledge of land, community, and ecology. Program graduates usually find jobs with employers involved in land and resource administration including First Nations bands; Métis organizations; resource, utility, and land development companies; environmental groups; municipalities and others. Justin Sidon, from the Matsqui First Nation, started his journey at NEC in the Aboriginal Adult Basic Education program. After completing AABE he enrolled in Indigenous Land Stewardship in hopes of taking that knowledge back home with him. “NEC has proven to be a safe place where I have been able to learn and grow. The cultural/traditional values that NEC demonstrates is really important to me. NEC has helped me see a brighter future for myself. It’s like a family. There is a lot of attention and a lot of compassion and a lot of patience. My dream is to gain the tools to go back to my community, and help them develop and grow in a good way. Just like any community of people, they’re trying to evolve and grow.” 

Another great program students can enrol in at NEC is Aboriginal Tourism Operations. This program prepares learners for a rewarding career in the Aboriginal Tourism sector, which is the fastest growing tourism sector in BC. Students gain practical skills and knowledge in ecotourism, heritage interpretation, and cross-cultural tourism. After completing the in-class courses, students continue with a practicum placement with a tourism company based in Metro Vancouver. A major component of this certificate program is learning how to incorporate Indigenous culture and heritage into the tourism industry. 

ATO graduates find employment with various organizations including non-profit agencies, First Nation governments, or municipal, provincial, or federal governments. The jobs may include; Guest Services Coordinator, Vacation Advisor, Customer Service Agent, or Tour Guide The Native Education College is the college of choice for Indigenous learners. NEC provides a culturally appropriate and supportive learning environment for Aboriginal learners, within available resources. Non-Aboriginal learners are also welcome. 

Consultation 2021: Critical and Emerging Issues

Over one intensive day, drill down on the critical issues in consultation and engagement. Benefit from the insights and experience of our national faculty of senior lawyers, government and industry representatives and academics as they grapple with the current and emerging challenges, including: The key issue of WHO: identifying the decision makers and other parties who need to be at the table Cumulative Effects: what are they and how do they impact consultation? Studies and the Consultation process Reconciling Indigenous and Canadian law Critical case law update – the key decisions and why you need to know them UNDRIP in 2021: where are we and where do we go from here? Consultation Agreements. Tips, Traps and Pitfalls to watch out for Municipalities and Tribunals and their (expanded?) role in consultation Plus! For those looking to obtain a solid grounding in the basics, don’t miss our full day Intensive Primer: Fundamentals of Consultation and Accommodation (recorded on November 8, 2018). Learn from Canada’s top experts and obtain a thorough grounding in this complex and evolving area. Register for Bundle Topics include: 

Introduction to Consultation: Who, What and Why. 

Implementing and Assessing ConsultationMechanics of Implementing Consultation: The Relationship and Timing Consultation Agreements: The EssentialsFaculty Program Chairs Robert H. Brent, Senior Counsel, Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Sandra Gogal, Miller Thomson LLP. Program Details 

Questions on program registration?Please contact the Registration Team at 

Questions on the program content? Please contact the Program Lawyer: Alison Hurst at 


Although the majority of university courses are online, ENGAP has offered their Summer Orientation for new students and current upgrading courses IN PERSON! This has been a challenge for both staff and students given that the university itself is largely shut down.

The dedication to teaching and learning has been demonstrated here. With the support of in-person instruction, the new students are acclimated to the difficult subjects of Physics, Math and Chemistry. The rest of the ENGAP students have transitioned to online courses and the ENGAP staff are online as well…still supporting them every step of the way. Even though the academic and social terrain of university has changed dramatically this year, the community of ENGAP still abounds! What is ENGAP? The Engineering Access Program (ENGAP) is a welcoming hub of Indigenous students (Métis, First Nation and Inuit) studying to become engineers in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba. ENGAP offers upgrading courses in Math, Physics, Chemistry and Intro to Computer Programming, in case your grades are not yet competitive enough to get you directly into first year classes. We offer academic, personal and community supports that create a warm and friendly home away from home to help you succeed. Our Academic Advisor is there to assist students with course planning, arranging free tutoring and registration support

Once you complete your first year of required courses, you can specialize in Civil, Electrical, Computer, Mechanical or Biosystems Engineering. The Co-op program offers work terms in the engineering industry to facilitate your career path moving forward. ENGAP has an inviting lounge where students can study together, use a kitchen and participate in industry run lunch information sessions. Located close by the lounge is our computer lab and printer. Our scholarship and bursary initiative has tremendous financial support from organizations such as Manitoba Aerospace, Lafarge, Price Industries, Vector Construction, Urban Systems, Manitoba Hydro, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba and Hatch Ltd., to name just a few. These companies generously provide much needed scholarships and bursaries to qualifying ENGAP students.

Applications for ENGAP can be found at and are due: May 1st 

Exploring Indigenous Career Development at Cannexus21 Virtual Conference

Exploring Indigenous Career Development at Cannexus21 Virtual Conference

Cannexus is Canada’s bilingual Conference on Career Development, promoting the exchange of information and exploring innovative approaches in career counselling and career development. Cannexus21 will be virtual, taking place January 25 & 27 and February 1 & 3. If you provide education, training or employment programs to Indigenous students or clients, you will find much of interest.

Among the 150 education sessions, there are many presentations that focus on working with Indigenous peoples, including:

  • Fostering Positive Indigenous Community Engagement with Purpose with Trina Maher, President & CEO Bridging Concepts
    This session will share Indigenous partnership worldview concepts and practical advice to help agencies engage with Indigenous organizations.
  • Trauma and Resilience: A Career Professional’s Guide with Seanna Quressette, Owner, Creating Intentional Change and Catherine Hajnal, Grief Educator, Life Fundamentals
    Participants will identify what constitutes trauma and learn practices to expand resilience, and foster safety, belonging and possibility for any client.
  • Skills and Leadership Development: Opportunities for Indigenous Youth with Tanya Tulus, Program Advisor, International Experience Canada and Michele Young-Crook, President, National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association
    Discuss activities for Indigenous youth to empower themselves and prepare for an evolving workforce through international experience, including financial literacy.
  • Feeding the Spirit: Indigenous Women, Career and Mental Health with Kathy Offet-Gartner, Counsellor/Associate Professor, Mount Royal University
    This session explores how an Indigenous women’s group feeds the physical, emotional, spiritual, academic and career spirits of attendees.
  • Opening the Path for Indigenous People with Disabilities with Shannahn McInnis, Senior Researcher, CRISPESH and Rose-Anne Gosselin, Training Co-ordinator, First Nations Human Resources Development Commission of Quebec
    Learn from research with 20 First Nations in Quebec about barriers faced by people with disabilities and gain training tools to promote an Indigenized perspective on inclusion.
  • Aboriginal Peoples Employment Program: A Pathway to Reconciliation with Rodney Hester, Manager, Aboriginal Peoples Employment Program, Indigenous Services Canada
    Regarded as a model program, hear how APEP is increasing Aboriginal workforce representation and Indigenous cultural competence within a federal department.

Three incredible keynotes – Future of Work Executive Advisor Zabeen Hirji, Simon Fraser University Professor Kris Magnusson & Olympian Perdita Felicien – have been announced plus the full preliminary program is now available. All sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing for an entire year – so you don’t miss anything and can view them at your convenience. Plus, take advantage of a Virtual Exhibitor Showcase and extensive online networking opportunities at Cannexus.

Attendees gather at a previous Cannexus National Career Development Conference. The annual conference – which is virtual for 2021 – examines career and employment issues, including for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada.

Attendees gather at a previous Cannexus National Career Development Conference. The annual conference – which is virtual for 2021 – examines career and employment issues, including for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada.

Cannexus is presented by CERIC with a broad network of 38 supporting organizations, including the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and Ontario Native Education Counselling Association. Members of Cannexus supporting organizations as well as groups of 5 or more benefit from a 25% discount on registration. You can also save by registering by the November 12 Early Bird deadline.

For more information and to register for Cannexus, visit

Skilled Trades in the Digital Age – New opportunities at the intersection of old and new career pathways

The digitization of trades demands new skill sets, makes some trades more appealing to a wider range of apprentices and is creating new career and training pathways. For educators, this will require a better understanding of the overlap and differences between trades and information/communications technology and the new opportunities they present to students willing to consider less traditional careers.

The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway, as a combination of digital technologies permeate every sector of the economy and most every occupation – including those in the skilled trades. The digitization of trades demands new skill sets, makes some trades more appealing to a wider range of apprentices, and is creating new career and training pathways.

At the same time, the blurring of lines between information and communications technology (ICT) and skilled trades has created a confusing occupational grey area. The two sectors notably share one feature: both ICT and trades need more workers.

For educators, this evolution in the workplace will require a better understanding of the overlap between trades and digital tech, its extent and limitations, and the new opportunities it presents to students willing to consider less traditional careers.

Size of the prize

The digital economy has been growing at roughly double the pace of the wider economy for more than a decade now. According to the most recent labour forecast by the Information and Communication Technology Council (ICTC), by 2023, the demand for digitally skilled talent in Canada is expected to exceed 305,000. If filled, ICTC expects total employment in the Canadian digital economy to reach more than 2.1 million tech jobs.1

Interestingly, more than half of the current tech work is outside of the ICT sector per se. That means most tech jobs are now in sectors such as banking, insurance, and oil and gas, and in organizations across the entire economy looking to digital technology for better operational, safety and environmental performance.

The rapid growth of the digital economy has outstripped available ICT talent. In Canada’s major tech hubs – Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal – the shortfall in senior-level tech workers has even prompted international hiring symposiums such as the one last year in Calgary, hosted by Calgary Economic Development and international ICT recruitment firm VanHack. In October, VanHack vetted 36 intermediate and senior tech job seekers from five continents to help local Calgary companies hire the talent they desperately need to grow. The skilled trades tell a similar story. Fewer youth are learning the skills needed to replace an aging generation of soon-to-retire tradespeople. Critical shortages in skilled workers are on the horizon.2 In Alberta, during the economic downturn, trades groups reported continued healthy demand for skilled workers, but during the province’s oil and gas boom years, worker shortages were so acute that projects also imported tradespeople from abroad. This practice is expensive and risky, and almost always “the option of last resort,” whether in trades or tech.


By now, educators have surely heard a well-honed message from Canada’s trades groups. “If we want to have a well-functioning society, we need people with diverse interests and diverse skills,” says Shaun Thorson, Chief Executive Officer of Skills/Compétences Canada. Students should be led to consider all occupations and not just those that shepherd them through a university education, he says.

This message, however, doesn’t seem to be translating into more tradespeople. Despite steady, well-compensated work in trades, there remains a deeply entrenched perception that trades are a lesser career path to one that requires a university educationeven as increasing numbers of university graduates struggle to find employment.

“It’s worth repeating that not everyone wants an office job in front of a computer,” Thorson says. “And not everyone wants to be out on a worksite, working with tools and materials. The main thing is to tell students to do their research and not get trapped in the six to ten occupations that you mostly hear about.”

Digitization of trades

Some of the obvious examples of digitized trades are the diagnostic tools that automotive and heavy-equipment technicians use today. GPS-guided excavation is now run-of-the-mill technology in road construction and natural resource extraction projects. Schematic drawings are now mostly read on tablets rather than from rolls of paper blueprints.

Pretty much all trades contractors rely on scheduling, invoicing and other software programs to expedite their paperwork. The ubiquitous smartphone and the many communication platforms such as Teams and other video/chat/file-sharing apps allow for greater collaboration and problem solving among tradespeople, designers and engineers. And new digital applications are being introduced each year.

Janis Lawrence-Harper, director of research and development with Careers: The Next Generation, an Alberta trade group launched in 1997 to support the growth of the oilsands industry by promoting skilled trades, adds some of the latest developments along this digital journey. “In the oilsands, the heavy haulers have a tremendous number of sensors that collect data about everything from how hard the equipment is hitting bumps, to how inflated the tires are and where the bumps are located so the road can actually be fixed,” she says. That data is tracked and processed by the mechanic, whose job it is to optimize the efficient running of these machines. (What Lawrence-Harper doesn’t mention is that autonomous vehicles are also becoming the norm in some mining operations in Alberta and around the world.)

Agricultural equipment technicians also rely on data to do their job. Advanced agricultural equipment today can seed a field within an inch of the previous year’s seeding plan. To maximize crop growth, drones help run and monitor fertilization programs.

“As technology continues to play a bigger role in many skilled trades, we are going to see changes in the required skillsets,” says Lawrence-Harper. “That might mean those occupations change, or in some cases, it might create new specialized positions that could fall into the categories of skilled trades and ICT. It will be up to the Alberta government to decide where those occupations belong.”.

ICT as a trade

The Working Centre, an Ontario group established in 1982 as a response to unemployment and poverty in downtown Kitchener, now lists several ICT roles as skilled trades under the “Services” banner. These occupations include Contact Centre Customer Service Agent, Technical Support Agent, Hardware Technician, and Network Technician.

The grey area between tech and trades has prompted Careers: The Next Generation to launch an Information and Communication Technology Internship Program to help meet the growing demand for tech workers in the next decade. The program offers six-week hands-on-learning internships to high school students interested in expanding their understanding of ICT opportunities in the workplace and to help define their potential career paths.

“We’re piloting it this year – though it’s a bit of a stretch right now with the COVID 19 pandemic,” Lawrence-Harper says. “We see a huge synergy between skilled trades and ICT. These two directions build on each other and this program bridges that gap between tech and trades.”

Careers: The Next Generation works with companies and organizations whose primary role isn’t ICT, but which have an ICT dimension. These have been in transportation, construction, marketing, the not-for-profit sector or others. At the other end, Careers works with high school staff to match Grade 11 and 12 students who have specific ICT skills and interests with target company needs. “Pacific Western, for example, has a lot of heavy-equipment technicians, so we talk to them about what role ICT plays in their company, what the crossover is in their heavy-equipment garage and how they could benefit from hiring a student intern,” Lawrence-Harper says. The company or organization foots the bill for the six-week internship, and benefits from the placement to the extent of the type and scope of work identified for the intern. Part of this value proposition is a line of sight to future ICT hiring, development of mentoring capabilities, strengthening of its ICT focus and connection to community.

To date, about 30 students have taken part in this internship, but the program is expected to expand into something bigger. Lawrence-Harper says that the skilled trades’ training model, which combines on-the-job mentoring and post-secondary education, could apply to learning certain ICT roles.

The blurring of lines between information and communications technology (ICT) and skilled trades has created a confusing occupational grey area.

Limitations and pathways

Despite the overlap of skilled trades and tech, Skills Canada’s Thorson is careful not to oversell the razzle and dazzle of tech to prospective apprentices. “The digitization of trades is exciting and interesting and may initially attract more students to learn about what’s involved in these occupations, but I don’t think digital tech will necessarily keep them in a skilled trade occupation [if they don’t enjoy the trade itself],” he says.

ICTC’s manager of data analysis and research, Rob Davidson, puts a finer point on this. “Trades are typically tactile occupations. So they are almost the opposite of digital jobs, which are mostly abstract,” he says. Many tech roles, in fact, involve high levels of abstract thinking and knowledge of programming languages. This is true of the top five in-demand digital occupations identified by ICTC’s Canada’s Growth Currency: Digital Talent Outlook 2023 (software developer, data scientist, data analyst, UX/UI designer, and full stack developer).

Thorson, however, urges people to move beyond the idea that students are either abstract learners or experiential learners. Students fall somewhere along a continuum between these poles. This perspective opens the door to “helping students find the right comfort level with abstract concepts that are married to tactile occupations that manipulate objects.”

Moreover, Davidson notes that the growing importance of digital technology challenges other sterotypes. The image of the socially inept techie in a dim backroom full of computer screens is giving way to tech workers who can fluently explain digital functionalities and present the business case for a new technology platform to C-suite executives.

A parallel trend in the skilled trades is driven by the collaborative nature of digital technology, which is allowing tradespeople to share their expertise. Construction outcomes, for example, can be improved when trades collaboration is sought earlier in the planning and design process rather than later in the execution stage, as has traditionally been the case. Shared digital platforms are facilitating this type of stakeholder consultation.

Exposing students to these tech and occupational trends is key. Educators can play an important role in helping students find meaningful careers by sharing their understanding of digital technology developments and their impacts on in-demand occupations. This awareness could extend to keeping abreast of new tech curricula developments in Canada’s post-secondary institutions, and various initiatives such as the Careers ICT pilot, or ICTC’s nationwide CyberTitan program, which provides middle and secondary school students with a foundation in digital skills by participating in a competition to fend off simulated cyber attacks. Career options have never been as diverse as they are today.

Photo: iStock

First published in Education Canada, June 2020


– ICTC is in the process of revising this pre-COVID-19 forecast. Moreover, ICTC’s previous forecast to 2021 projected a significantly lower demand of 216,000 tech jobs, which was largely due to a change in methodology; more ICT-related National Occupational Classification codes were included in the 2023 forecast.

– Again, how this will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic was unknown at the time of writing.

Soft skills and hard skills: What’s the difference?


If you want to take your career to the next level, you’ll need to showcase your development in two key skill areas: hard and soft skills. A hard skill is essentially your ability to carry out a specific task, while a soft skill is the way you perform that task within a workplace setting.

In the past, employers had a tendency to focus on hard skills, but in today’s modern workplace, they are increasingly seeking soft skills as a differentiator. In fact, soft skill-intensive occupations will account for around two-thirds of all jobs in Australia by 2030, Deloitte reports.

So what’s the difference between hard and soft skills, and how do you demonstrate you have both to employers?

Hard and soft skills: The difference

Hard skills are easy to quantify – they are the technical knowledge you learn either in the classroom or on the job, and you prove them through certifications, degrees or other qualifications. Soft skills, on the other hand, are a bit more subjective – you can’t show a potential employer you scored an A in teamwork, for example. Instead, you have to show you’ve developed these interpersonal skills through offering instances of where you’ve used teamwork in a particular setting.

In today’s workforce where technology and automation predominate, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking hard skills are all you need, that they are the key differentiator that will help get you a job or your next promotion. However, while hard skills are certainly important, in a tech-dominated world it’s your soft skills that are really going to make the difference. After all, while machines can carry out a lot of tasks that were previously only performed by humans, they can’t practice emotion or empathy – this remains the preserve of humans.

Now let’s take a look at some examples of hard and soft skills.

Examples of hard and soft skills

LinkedIn has compiled a list of the most in-demand hard and soft skills in 2019. When it comes to hard skills, predictably, the majority are technology-based, however languages and marketing also feature highly.

The top 10 are as follows:

  1. Cloud Computing.
  2. Artificial Intelligence.
  3. Analytical Reasoning.
  4. People Management.
  5. UX Design.
  6. Mobile Application Development.
  7. Video Production.
  8. Sales Leadership.
  9. Translation.
  10. Audio Production.

When it comes to soft skills, creativity tops LinkedIn’s list, followed by persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and time management. Creativity and adaptability clearly complement many of the harder skills outlined above. With technology changing at a faster pace than ever, organisations need people who can think innovatively and adapt to new circumstances in order to survive.

Other examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication: The effective sharing of ideas, perspectives and information between parties inside and outside the business.
  • Critical thinking: The ability to analyse situations and understand the implications of a problem to find solutions.
  • Global citizenship: Being aware and cognisant of your place in a culturally and economically connected world.
  • Innovation: The ability to conceptualise new or improved ideas, processes and ways of doing things.
  • Problem solving: Defining problems, finding potential solutions, and evaluating each one’s impact to choose the one that will work best.
  • Professional ethics: Understanding the ethical expectations of professionals and organisations in the modern business environment.
  • Self-management: Taking responsibility, working independently, managing your own career, planning and pursuing opportunities, and reflecting on performance.
  • Teamwork: With many projects in today’s work environment needing input from multiple people, the ability to work effectively in a team is a skill many organisations need their employees to have.

So those are some of the most common hard and soft skills employers look for, but how do you acquire them?

How do you develop hard and soft skills?

As we said before, hard skills are often developed in a classroom setting. If you want to learn about social media marketing, for example, you can take an online course in it. It’s also possible to pick up hard skills in the workplace, but this will still generally require some sort of formal training.

Meanwhile, soft skills are a lot more intangible – you’ll normally develop them through experiences in everyday life or on the job, and they can’t be taught in quite the same way as technical knowledge, although coaching and mentoring certainly helps.

To pick up soft skills, employees need to be self-reflective. They must look at different situations at work and see how they could have handled it differently, either through communicating in another way, organising a task differently or thinking about something in a more innovative way. It’s also helpful to look at how other people (particularly managers) handle certain situations. If you reflect on your own and other peoples’ interactions in the workplace regularly, you’ll eventually build up a bank of different soft skills.

But without formal qualifications, how do you prove that you possess these soft skills to employers during the interview process?

How to demonstrate you have hard and soft skills

Even with hard skills, simply saying you have a degree in X isn’t enough. In the early 1980s, only 5 per cent of the Australian working population had a bachelors degree or above. Now, according to Deloitte, this figure stands at 25 per cent and rising. It’s therefore likely that other candidates in the hiring pool have exactly the same degree as you.

Instead, you need to talk to potential employers about your experiences using that technical knowledge in specific real-world scenarios. For example, how has an instance where you used your technical knowledge helped further the success or revenue of the business?

Soft skills are also now essential in getting your next job or promotion, especially if you’re going for a leadership or managerial role. But how do you prove you have these types of skills?

Look no further than Deakin’s professional practice credentials. These are university-level micro-credentials that provide an authoritative and third-party assessment of your capabilities in a range of areas, including employability and soft skills, as well as leadership proficiencies and even technical knowledge.

Find out more about our credentials here or contact a member of the team today to find out how you can take your career to the next level by showing you’ve got the soft skills they need.

Reconnecting With the Land Restores Teachers’ Spirits After Hard Emotional Labour

Nancy Knickerbocker

Gathered under sunny skies on the shore of Kawkawa Lake, two dozen teachers listened in rapt attention to the renowned Stó:lō  historian and cultural advisor Naxaxalhts’i, Albert “Sonny” McHalsie, as he shared his deep knowledge of S’ólh  Téméxw, the beautiful lakes, rivers, and mountains within the unceded traditional territory of his people.

This special Pro-D and wellness day was the BCTF’s way of saying “thank you” for the important and difficult work they do as Aboriginal Education workshop facilitators. Along with a few non-Aboriginal colleagues, they were taking a day out of time, reconnecting with the land, learning place names and concepts in the Halq’eméylem language.

As the bus headed upriver, Sonny emphasized that he was sharing both sqwélqwel, true facts and personal histories, as well as sxwōxwiyam, the creation stories of Xexá:ls, the Transformers. 

He spoke of the origin of the great blue heron, of the mountain that looks like a man from upriver and a woman from downriver, of the once-overwhelming abundance of oolichan in the river now decimated due to overfishing downstream, of the beauty of the women’s fasting grounds high in the hills, now logged out. At the lakeshore, he told of the sacred mask from the time of the 1782 small pox epidemic, when up to 90 percent of the population perished. “Whole villages were wiped out. They found the people dead in their canoes, in their homes.” 

“The things we talk about in the classroom can be very traumatizing for people of Aboriginal heritage,” said Jesse Halton. “But that day, connecting with the land, putting my hands into the waters of Kawkawa Lake, was so reinvigorating! I could feel those lake people.”

In Hope, the bus turned into the Telte-Yet Campsite to view the site of a sqemel, a traditional pithouse. “Or, as the anthropologists would say, ‘a circular semi-subterranean winter dwelling’,” Sonny noted dryly, making air quotes as he indicated a deep round indentation in the earth.

He asked four teachers to stand in designated spots to show where the house posts would have been and explained how the pit houses were built to be cool in summer and warm in winter.

That was an emotional moment for Dani Pigeau and her father Harold Lock, who is a cousin of Sonny’s. The two men’s great-great-grandfather, Sexyel, also known as Captain Charlie, inhabited the very house that once stood there.  

“Standing on that place where my ancestors lived was overwhelming. It’s a sacred site that now is a commercial campground. They don’t know that’s where we lived and died. The sacred space is covered up, but you can still feel the spirit energy there,” Dani said. “I’m so grateful we still have our knowledge keepers. That day was big — a really big gift for me.”

For Brian Coleman, the trip evoked nostalgia overlaid with a tremendous sadness. “I have a lot of fond memories of driving that road through the [Fraser] canyon as a child, with my dad and my sisters. Dad would tell stories, but back then I never understood all the loss,” he said. “How full that land is! Yet so much is lost.” 

Just how much was lost, and when, and where, and by whom – these are among the hard lessons Canadians are beginning to learn, and teachers are mandated to teach.  To support members, the BCTF offers 12 different workshops on topics including the legacy of residential schools, infusing Aboriginal content, Indigenous perspectives, decolonizing, and much more.  And they are in high demand; of 296 workshops delivered in the 2018-19 school year, 94 were Aboriginal Education workshops. The facilitators are highly trained and deeply committed to this work, but it demands hard emotional labour.

“It’s like having PTSD and being triggered all the time. I live this history, I own it. So, retelling it is like ripping off a Band-Aid every time,” says Jacquie King. “At the same time, it’s super rewarding because people say thank you so much for sharing. People wouldn’t gain the same insights without our authentic voices.”

The facilitators expressed frustration at the continuing ignorance of some Canadians about this history, despite the lengthy hearings and massive reports by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Missing and Murdered Women’s Inquiry. 

“People say OMG! I didn’t know! But how could people still not know?” asked Peggy Janicki. “I’m not very empathetic to that position anymore. I’ve been teaching this history for 16 years now.”  

Still, it remains the fact that generations of Canadians learned absolutely nothing about the residential school system, the 150,000 children taken and the 6,000 who died, the hunger, the tuberculosis, the physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse. The true history is so shocking and brutal, it is often met with skepticism, crossed arms, and even eye-rolls.

“You get the fact checkers in the room, immediately opening their laptops or going on their phones looking up whether what I’m saying is true. It’s like, ‘I don’t believe that because I’ve learned something different my whole life’,” said Claire Akiwenzie. “A lot of people are giving their full attention, but there’s always someone who’s not having any of it. They’re totally walled up.” 

Nodding, Heather Froste added: “Last year I found the reaction to be a lot more of ‘Yeah, yeah, okay, just give me the lesson plans.’ People don’t want to do the work. They just want to check off the box. Residential school history—tick! But that’s not an act of reconciliation.”

Not only do some question the veracity of information, they challenge the very identity of the presenters. Carlo Pavan noted that all workshop presenters experience resistance from time to time, no matter what the topic. “But the difference is that we’re talking about us — our history, our lived experiences, our identity. So, when you experience resistance to your own identity, the emotional cost is much higher. You feel invalidated. I often wonder if the SOGI facilitators feel the same way.” 

Branden Peters agreed: “Some of the resistance is white fragility, because this history does unsettle people. It makes you feel things. Discomfort and guilt are two horns on the same goat.”

A middle-school principal once asked Peggy to “take it easy on the staff” because they had felt heartbroken after doing the Blanket Exercise. “Sorry, there’s no gentle version of this history,” she said. “It’s a pedagogy of discomfort.”

Unsettling as it may be, teachers are called to confront these uncomfortable truths. There have been significant changes to BC’s curriculum around infusing Aboriginal history and culture, and the BC Teachers’ Council’s new professional standard requires educators to “contribute towards truth, reconciliation and healing.” 

Jean Moir has been doing just that in her Grade 3-4-5 classroom, helping to pilot the BCTF resource “Gladys We Never Knew,” about Gladys Chapman, a little girl taken from her home in Spuzzum to Kamloops Residential School, where she died of tuberculosis at age 12.

“Visiting Gladys’s grave was one of the most profound learning experiences my kids ever had. It was an amazing opportunity for them to connect to her story with their hearts, as well as their heads,” she said as the bus passed the Chapman family cemetery near Spuzzum.

“Children are hard-wired for fairness, so when you teach them about the historical and current injustices, they are outraged and eager to take action. Now my students are going home and educating their parents about the true history of Canada.”

Jean urged other non-Aboriginal teachers to dive into this work with open hearts and minds. 

“It really is a personal journey and once you start engaging with this history it takes on its own momentum,” she said.  “You confront your own shame and discomfort and biases, but it’s all so worth it. When you acknowledge something difficult and go through it, you come out a better person.”