January 2022 NPower Canada Graduations

January 2022 Graduations

Over the past couple of weeks, NPower Canada has been celebrating our September 2021 participants. 

In September, a new cohort of young adults embarked on a challenging program, learning in-demand tech skills, growing personally, and equipping themselves with professional skills through NPower Canada’s youth programs.

In late December, participants wrapped up their programs after 15 weeks of hard work. It has been a pleasure to celebrate their success over the past couple of weeks through provincial graduation ceremonies. These virtual ceremonies have provided an opportunity for funding and employer partners, family, friends and NPower Canada staff to look back at the 15 weeks spent together.

Graduation is also a time for us to reflect on how far NPower Canada has come since our inception in 2015. Our CEO, Julia Blackburn, recalled that our initial program was designed to serve only 100 youth per year and was happy to report “ in the last seven years, we have had over 3,400 youth graduate from our programs.” She thanked our board of directors and employer and funder partners for making this possible.

Alberta Graduation

We celebrated our Albertan graduates on January 18th, where a keynote address was delivered by Fiona Wilson, Grants & Procurement Specialist, on behalf of the Government of Alberta. Fiona reflected on the expansion of NPower Canada’s programs in Alberta, with this being the first cohort where individuals outside of Calgary were able to enroll in the program.

Screenshot of Virtual Graduation Ceremony with pictures of Alberta's participants

One of the most touching aspects of the ceremonies is when the graduate speakers share their stories. Elizabeth shared that having been raised by a single mother, her “financial obligations” meant that she “was never able to pursue further education,” until she found NPower Canada. She felt stuck in a low-level retail manager position that wasn’t enough to support herself or her family. Now, Elizabeth will be starting her new role with ATB Financial.

Logan Hutchinson, the Social Impact Analysis & Innovation Lead at ATB Financial, was in attendance and able to personally welcome Elizabeth to the team. Logan also presented the Innovation Award to Patrick, a graduate, which recognized Patrick for his creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. 

Anuradha, a new immigrant to Canada, also shared her story at the Alberta graduation: 

“I must mention my amazing classmates. We held each other’s hand at every possible moment, taking time out from our busy schedules to help each other whenever we had doubts. I am happy to say that even after the course, we are supporting each other in numerous ways and I believe we will continue to do so, so strong are these bonds.”

Nova Scotia Graduation

On January 20th, we celebrated our third Nova Scotian graduating class, which our COO, Andrew Reddin, acknowledged was largely made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Government of Nova Scotia that allowed us to launch our first delivery site in the maritimes. Minister Balser and Minister Comer were both in attendance and shared a few words.

Minister Balser commended the graduates for “having the courage to try something new and for foraging a new path,” and noted that the graduates’ talent and skills would help bolster Nova Scotia’s thriving digital sector. Minister Comer similarly thanked the graduates for “their contribution to the province of Nova Scotia.”

Screenshot of Virtual Graduation Ceremony with pictures of Nova Scotian participants and Minister Jill Balser
Screenshot of Virtual Graduation Ceremony with pictures of Nova Scotian participants and Minister Brian Comer

The first graduate speaker, Tamara, shared that she had always been interested in tech but didn’t know how to break into the field. She said, “NPower Canada has assisted me with learning to advocate for myself and giving me the proper tools and skills needed to apply for a job.” Her speech was followed by our second graduate speaker, Hunter, the second graduate speaker, echoed this newfound confidence. “In the past, I was always worried that I was not going to accomplish a whole lot in my life,” he said. But the program helped Hunter develop and improve his employability.

Hunter shared that he had secured a role with CIBC, who received our Hiring Excellence Award for hitting a 100 hire milestone. Walid Saleh, Senior Director of Cloud Transformation, accepted the award on behalf of CIBC.

Ontario Graduation

Our third graduation ceremony was celebrated on January 25th, where we were joined by Kate Gatto, the Manager, Social Impact, of RBC Future Launch. Kate delivered the keynote address to “the young people graduating today from the Junior IT Analyst (JITA), Junior Data Analyst (JDA), and Junior Security and Quality Assurance (JSQA) programs,” citing them as “exceptional examples to all of us” for their “perseverance, hard work, optimism, and ability to learn and adapt.”

Screenshot of Virtual Graduation Ceremony with pictures of Ontario's participants and Kate Gatto, Social Impact Manager of RBC Future Launch

We had three graduate speakers representing each of the streams we offer in Ontario. Emmanuel, from the JSQA program, said what he loved most was that “everyone was given a chance but we were also set to a high standard.”

Kiran, who completed the JDA program, shared that she had struggled when she first came to Canada, as “the cultural shock, lack of social network, and academic skills along with the pandemic made finding a job, much less a job that would lead to a career [she] enjoyed, almost impossible.” However, she shared that she now feels hopeful and well equipped for the next chapter.

Rami, from the JITA program, touched us all with his closing words:

“That’s all we need in life. All I needed was a chance and that’s what NPower Canada gave me.”

Luke Gilgan, representing the Peter Gilgan Foundation, was also in attendance to award the Trailblazer Award. The award was given to Milad, for being the first in his family to come to Canada to pursue a career in tech.

Screenshot of a webinar with Peter Gilgan Foundation Trailblazer Award certificate slide and picture of Milad, NPower Canada graduate awarded from Ontario

British Columbia Graduation

January 27th marked our first ever graduation ceremony for B.C., as we celebrated the inaugural class. The momentous occasion was marked by a touching keynote address from Sue Paish, CEO of Digital Technology Supercluster, who thanked NPower Canada and partners “for giving Canadians, every Canadian, a real and fair opportunity for success and a better quality of life.”

We were also thrilled to have Danielle Gregov, from Hootsuite, present the Above & Beyond Leader Award to a graduate, Kenneth, for being an empowering classmate who helped himself and his peers to grow, transform, and step up into the next generation of digital leaders.

Kenneth shared his story with us as an immigrant from the Philippines. Although he had education and experience in tech from back home, he found it difficult to enter the same field here in Canada. He said the Junior Data Analyst program “was the perfect opportunity for me to restart my career as a data or business analyst here in Canada.”

Screenshot of Virtual Graduation Ceremony with pictures of British Columbian participants and male graduate speaker

Pallavi, our second graduate speaker, shared her similar experience as an immigrant. Thanks to the supportive staff, rigorous technical training, and personal and professional development sessions, Pallavi said the Junior IT Analyst program let her “grow in confidence to join the workforce.” She said, “while I was previously hesitant, I am now employment ready.”

Screenshot of Virtual Graduation Ceremony with pictures of British Columbian participants and female graduate speaker

At each graduation, we also shared our virtual yearbook to look back at class activities, #FunFriday themes, and partner events. Watch the virtual yearbook here.

We would like to thank everyone who attended our January 2022 graduations and joined us in celebrating the September 2021 participants. We look forward to continuing to work with young adults and transformative partners to create pathways to economic prosperity for Canada’s underserved youth and adults.