A Year in Reflection

Recently, I sat down to reflect on the one-year anniversary since COVID-19 dramatically changed the way we interact with our students, our colleagues and our community partners. The pandemic fundamentally changed how we work and how we live our lives. As spring arrives, I look forward with hope and am incredibly proud of the resiliency you have all demonstrated over the past year.  I’m particularly proud of, and humbled by, the outstanding work of so many volunteers that make up the CEWIL community. Our members and partners have been extraordinarily busy in their own institutions, organizations and as advocates on the national stage.  I want to share some key accomplishments we have been able to achieve - all done by volunteers and a Community coming together!

National Advocacy

  • National call to employers to not cancel work terms, and to allow work from home or push start dates to June 1st – launch of #WILfromHome social media campaign
  • Adapted Accreditation guidelines to allow for flexibility
  • Advocated to the government for SWPP flexibility, shorter co-op work permit processing times, increased Public Service Sector hiring of students
  • Launched weekly, then bi-weekly, now monthly town halls, bringing the WIL community together to discuss challenges, trends, reactions and so much more
  • Partnered with SWPP delivery partners and others to share news, funding and opportunity for students across Canada
  • Became a trusted advisor to the government, other associations and organizations
  • Secured just under $17 million dollars from the Federal Government, launched a grant process iHub, bringing on staff and developing processes
  • Created an Employer/Community Partner Expert Community
  • Shared globally how Canada’s WIL community was responding to the pandemic

Outreach/Resource Development for Members

  • Professional Development committee took on a load of a “unprecedented situation” as we had to “pivot” to our “new reality”
  • Members helped with everything from collecting information on Government programs, changes and announcements, to translating resources to French
  • Started a member newsletter, increased social media and communication capacity,
    created resources for employers/host organizations
  • Created a LinkedIn group for wider sharing
  • Published stories of inspiration and success
  • Collected and collated pulse data monthly, sharing with members and government to inform decisions
  • Call for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – a Community of Practice established, workshops and resources developed
  • Postponed our CEWIL conference in St John’s, chasing the elusive East Coast in 2022.In the meantime planned collaboration between PD, research and the conference committee
  • Hosted coffee chats on areas of interest and hot topics
  • Changed and updated our bylaws – including governance structures and membership categories for more stability and to better reflect CEWIL’s future
  • Launched our second Co-op and WIL Month and celebrating our Co-op and WIL students of the Year
  • Launched a new website and membership association platform
  • Supported a Canadian version of International Journal of WIL and publication on research in WIL in Canada
  • Conducted a volunteer appreciation and virtual AGM
  • Introduced the Quality Council (launched in March 2020) working on expanded mandate, quality improvements for all forms of WIL
  • Developing a CEWIL practitioner certificate program
  • Working with CEWIL members on feedback on government sponsored programs
  • Developing tools for employers and community partners to better understand and engage in all types of WIL
  • Hosting in May, Strategic Planning by the board for the future of CEWIL

I am sure that I have forgotten items on this list, and I invite you to share on components that may have been missed so we can celebrate our accomplishments together.

While this year has been marked by various emotions, stages, triumphs, struggles, and accomplishments, CEWIL’s community has responded with grace, compassion, action, and decisiveness.  I was recently asked on a panel if our organization was prepared for the pandemic, and while my first reaction was “No, who was?”, I took a moment and changed my response to, “No, but we were well positioned to act, support and guide”. Which was a result of our foundational strength, strategic positioning and tremendous depth and breadth of knowledge and expertise of our members. So, it was with a smile on my face (and yes some teary eyes) that when building this list, I thought that although we are very tired, we should also all be very proud.  Thank you for being such an outstanding community of volunteers and passionate professionals. And thank you for the trust that you have put into me, and the board during this year.  It has been our pleasure to serve and represent the CEWIL Community.

Sincerely,

Cara Krezek
CEO, CEWIL/ECAMT Canada