NSAA Takes Action on Improving Workplace Inclusion

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March 11, 2022

African Nova Scotians in skilled trades: A Legacy of Impact & Resilience

The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency (the Agency), in partnership with the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia (BCCNS) and Skills Canada Nova Scotia (SCNS) is coordinating and producing a film that will document the history of the African Nova Scotian community with the skilled trades of Nova Scotia. The documentary is part of the Agency’s commitment to take action against discrimination and exclusion within the skilled trades and apprenticeship system.

Marjorie Davison, CEO of the Agency said that the documentary will be comprised of authentic stories that will highlight the historical connections between the African Nova Scotian communities and the vibrant skill trades culture in Nova Scotia. “This project will not only aim to provide an enhanced understanding of inequities that diverse community members experience within the skilled trades but will celebrate the contributions of African Nova Scotians in our communities,” she said.

The final mini documentary will be available to the three partners to use in their programming. The Agency will use the film to initiate conversations with apprenticeship system participants that aim to build empathy and cultural humility which involves learning about another’s culture and seeing the connections in our shared history.

Russell Grosse, Executive Director of the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia said, “This collaboration provides an important glimpse into the remarkable contributions of African Nova Scotians in skilled trades and the important contributions made to society.” The documentary and footage will become part of Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia’s permanent exhibition and for smaller temporary exhibits as needed.

Davison says there is a vital need for systemic change around acts of discrimination and exclusion that exists within the apprenticeship system and that the Agency has been working intentionally to increase participation of equity-seeking apprentices. According to the Building More Equitable Pathways II framework which was launched in 2021, only between 13 to 20 percent of equity-seeking apprentices who registered from 2010-2020 completed their apprenticeship and achieved certification. Davison believes that early intervention and support from Agency staff, employers who create welcoming workplaces, and training providers who provide safe learning environments are all critical to increasing the success of equity-seeking apprentices. “The documentary is an important tool in enhancing our understanding of racism, inequities, micro-aggressions and power and privilege,” she said, “and in combination with other strategies and resources will support a much larger culture shift that needs to happen.”

The documentary is being led by Jayde Tynes, an experienced journalist and producer at Montague Media Productions. She is a former employee of the Black Cultural Centre and belongs to the African Nova Scotian community. The documentary is currently under development and expected to be completed by July 2022.

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