Research is a career goal for many students, graduates, and fellows at our post-secondary institutions. Our research communities are undergoing a transformational change as part of Canada's effort to promote EDI in higher education.
In response to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) call to action to conduct the best research, innovate with the best practices, and demonstrate creativity within post-secondary, NSERC joined with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to integrate their EDI frameworks and criteria. This collaboration between the three primary funding agencies launched in September 2019 and requires researchers to intentionally incorporate EDI plans into the recruitment and training of students.
A related strategy, the Dimensions Project supports Canadian post-secondary institutions who have a culture of promoting and improving EDI policies and practices. The Dimensions Project parallels international initiatives such as, Athena SWAN in the United Kingdoms and Ireland, SAGE in Australia and SEA Change in the United States. The Dimensions Project is uniquely designed to recognize the diversity in the Canadian context and aims to support equitable access to funding, equitable participation in research and to embed EDI considerations in research practices.
Camosun College, in Victoria BC was one of just five colleges selected in the first Dimensions cohort to develop EDI tools and resources to empower all of the intersections of Canadian identity. Camosun's Education Vice President, John Boraas noted, “The selection of Camosun to participate in the Dimension’s pilot is public recognition of the college’s commitment to ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion remains central to our culture and values. We are part of a very select group.” Key to our commitment to an Equitable, Diverse and Inclusive Career Services was the development of a Board-approved EDI Policy. The Camosun College policy development process included an extensive consultation process with individuals from across the college, including both employees and students, analysis of peer institution policy, and review of scholarly literature.
In my role as a Career Educator, as a coach and advocate for students and alumni, I was a member of Camosun College's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Policy Steering Committee. I began the ongoing analysis of our Career Services related tools, marketing and resources for accessibility, representation and resourcefulness. At the suggestion of hosting an EDI career fair, I made a list of favourable employers, students and programs but then struggled to find ways to promote it without exclusion. I also piloted a Disability Impact on Career and Employment self-advocacy tool with several students. It is a pleasure to share this experience and knowledge with the membership with CACEE as we tackle this important employment equity work together.
Submitted by Jacquie Burden, Career Educator, Camosun College, Victoria B.C.