2014 ERIEC Awards & Recognition

by Doug Piquette, Executive Director, ERIEC

Last Wednesday, November 19th, members of the Edmonton business community and internationally educated professionals were gathered together in the Art Gallery of Alberta to celebrate ERIEC’s five years of mentor/ mentee successes and employer partnerships.

This was the inaugural Awards & Recognition Event of this caliber for ERIEC which drew a well dressed crowd of over 100 participants.  ERIEC Chairperson, Cindy Laporte, who by day works at TELUS in an HR Managerial capacity, provided the audience with some context and organizational history within her welcome speech.  “Rewind 6 years ago when ERIEC began. In the first year there were only 10 mentor/mentee matches achieved and last year 2013-2014, we made a total of 117 matches”.   She added, “ERIEC’s success and growth would not have been possible without the support of our business partners and key community stakeholders.   Your support with funding and sponsorships and the promotion of the ERIEC programs within your organizations have contributed to the current and will contribute to the future success of ERIEC”.

A highlight of evening for many was the Guest MC and keynote speaker Vivian Abboud. Vivian’s bio is very impressive. Selected among the 2014 Top 25 Immigrants in Canada, VIvian is a Senior Manager with the Provincial Government, a business owner and community advocate. Vivian is also a member of the Edmonton Citizenship Committee Institute for Canadian Citizens. Other words that describe her are: Mentor, community advocate, played a leadership role with other women leaders in developing the Women Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE).Recently, Vivian was selected by the Canadian Living Magazine among “Canada’s 40 Most Inspiring Women” and her story will be published in the 2015 January issue. She shared with the audience her challenges with adaptation and integration into Canadian society and her vision about the role of professional and succesful women immigrants: “As immigrants, we have a responsibility to be engaged as ethical Canadian citizens, it is our responsibility to give back to the community not only to our ethnic welcoming community but to the community at large”. In her keynote Vivian focused on the power of networking which she refers to as one of biggest gaps in immigrant integration process. Her address was very inspirational and empowering. She ended her speech by quoting Robert Kiyosaki:  “The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Everyone else looks for work”.

Amazigh Ankji spoke at the ceremony and is a CMP graduate with a master’s degree in Management and Finance from the United States and a Bachelors degree in Economics from his home country of Morocco. He has many years of professional experience from different countries. He thought that finding a job would be easy here in Canada but unfortunately he was not successful in finding the right position for quite a long time. He explained to the audience that only after he had joined the ERIEC Career Mentorship Program and after he has been matched with his mentor, that he finally felt lucky.

His mentor helped him with his resume in adapting it to the Canadian job search and shared her personal story to encourage him as well as help him to recognize that he does have what it takes to be successful in Canada.  Amazigh added,  “With my mentor’s support, I regained my confidence.  The career mentorship program has helped me out in three important ways – my self- confidence, inspiration, and building my connections!”

Tonya Syvitski, a Resource Manager with Robert Half’s Management Resources and one of the winners of the Networking Star Awards, shared with the audience her experience as a volunteer with the Smart Connections and Connector Programs. She reminded the audience that everyone is a part of the solution to breaking down barriers. “We can all learn from each other by listening and sharing”, she said. The Smart Connections and Connector Program provides a safe forum for employers and future employees to have honest discussions about going through a hiring process, integrating into the workforce and nuances between Canadian and international culture. ERIEC’s mentorship program also provides employers the opportunity “to develop their staff’s leadership skills in the area of mentorship for free in addition to getting their staff involved in the community”.

Another winner, Wendy Rabel, a Recruitment Specialist with Stantec shared with the audience that the real reward for her was “the smile of an internationally educated professional who she helped with her job search while she was in the Connector Program – and all it took was a cup of coffee and making a few introductions over email”!

The last presentation was MCed  by Executive Director, Doug Piquette who  handed out the employer Partnerships Northern Star Awards to five employer partners who were recognized for the special volunteer achievements of the corporate sector involved with ERIEC programming: Five beautiful hand blown glass awards designed by glass artist Keith Walker were given to the following employer partners: City of Edmonton, Enbridge, Jacobs, Stantec and Telus.

ERIEC would like to thank the sponsors, Government of Alberta and ALLIES/Maytree Foundation, for their gracious collaboration and support for this year’s event.

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