Dylan Morin and Jarred MacDonald are true ambassadors of the University of Regina, embodying campus values like calm, care, and compassion. Since starting their jobs as caretakers with the U of R’s Custodial Services in January 2020, they have been tasked with the critical role of ensuring that the University is a clean, safe environment for those who are on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also take pride in welcoming visitors, students, faculty, and staff to campus with a smile – from behind a mask, of course – and a cheery “Hello!”
Across Canada, October is designated as Disability Employment Awareness Month. Throughout the month, inclusive employers, such as the University of Regina, are celebrating their workers and raising awareness of the importance of providing meaningful paid employment for former students like Morin and MacDonald who experience intellectual disabilities.
“We are very fortunate to have Dylan and Jarred on our team,” says John Papandreos, Manager of Custodial Services, who has been instrumental in advocating for inclusive employment opportunities at the University. “They are outstanding workers who are contributing purposeful and essential work, especially during COVID when we have such a large need for a clean environment.”
Since the pandemic began, Morin and MacDonald have been working hard on the Custodial Services’ team to disinfect touchpoints around main entrances and exits on campus.
“Right now, I go to all the areas on campus and I’m wiping down touch points, like elevator buttons,” explains Morin, who seeks to make positive connections with people as he carries out his job tasks. “I’m just trying to do my best to keep the University safe.”
Students, staff, and faculty around campus know Morin and appreciate his outgoing, friendly personality, which provides him with a sense of satisfaction in his work and of belonging to the University community.
“I hear ‘thank you!’ from people,” says Morin. “From time to time, I get people asking where a building is and I’ll describe it the best I can. From being a student to being a staff member, I know the University well.”
Both Morin and MacDonald are graduates of the University of Regina and were supported by the Campus for All (CFA) inclusive, post-secondary education initiative, which provides adults who experience an intellectual disability with the opportunity for an authentic university experience. This initiative includes three pillars: academic, social networking, and employment.
“The students we support are no different than any others,” says Faith Savarese, Coordinator of the Campus for All initiative. “At the end of their education, they want to be employed and contribute to the community, so we created an employment project called 4to40 with our community partner Creative Options Regina. The staff at 4to40 identify potential employers and provide on-the-job support like job coaches, so that our new employees can more easily learn their job tasks and integrate into the workplace.”
Since the creation of 4to40, many current and former students supported by CFA are now employed, and more employers are realizing the benefits that hiring inclusively brings to their workplaces.
“Their work ethic is top notch,” says Papandreos. “Dylan and Jarred contribute to a positive work culture. It’s hard not to embrace these guys. There’s huge benefits to the U of R in terms of supporting an inclusive employment philosophy, which receives strong support from U of R senior administration. For the individuals, it gives them a sense of purpose and contribution to the greater good. It works wonders for their self-esteem and so they produce high quality work. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Recently, the University has extended the term positions of both Morin and MacDonald for another year, and Papandreos hopes to one day make their positions permanent.
Like any other workers, Morin and MacDonald look for stability, inclusion, and a sense of satisfaction in their jobs.
MacDonald cleans door and stair handles, as well as benches, and enjoys joking with his supervisor. “My favourite part of working at the University is my cart,” says Jarred, whose strong work ethic keeps him constantly on the go. “And getting a pay cheque.”
Murray Peterson, MacDonald’s job coach for the past year and a half – and close friend – is amazed by MacDonald’s commitment to doing the best job he can.
“He’ll never take a full lunch hour,” says Peterson. “Maybe 15 or 20 minutes and then we’re going back to work. Go, go, go.”
As a result of being University employees, MacDonald and Morin get the same benefits as other University employees.
“Sick time, vacation time, a pension – this is not something Jarred normally would have expected from any job, so the fact that he has that at the U of R is indispensable really,” says Peterson. “The quality of life here amazes me. I’m so impressed with everything the University has done for him and with him.”
Helping an individual to develop their strengths is an important part of empowering new employees.
“Dylan’s job coach used to be here five days a week and is now down to two days a week,” says Donna Flaman-Johnson, an inclusive employment broker for the 4to40 organization. “We want to see graduates of Campus for All gain confidence in their skills, abilities, and job tasks. Then, they can work more independently and may one day mentor others.”
By University Advancement and Communications — Posted: October 20, 2020
Employment means something different to every person. Some folks enjoy the social aspects of a job where the people make the work tolerable. Some prefer a role where they can put their head down and get things done for 8 hours a day and then go home to resume life the way they truly want. For Trent employment is all of these things. For Trent, employment adds variety.
When asked about what the perfect job for Trent would be he replied, ‘For me it would be the perfect mix of things. I don’t just like one job over another. I like to have time at home to chill out, and I also like to meet new people at work. If I had to choose I would say I’d be a mechanic in the afternoons and then relax by the water and skateboard all night!’ As Trent is a self-proclaimed ‘night owl’ evenings are made for leisure and relaxation.
Over the course of our conversation it became quite evident that Trent’s heart belongs to skateboarding in the summertime. When asked about his passion Trent stated, ‘I love the freedom to move and the feeling of the outdoors! When I am skating I can let go, be myself, and let my worries drift away!’ Trent also talked at length about his desire to keep up his skills and dedicate as much time as possible to practicing which is truly admirable when working toward any goal!
Finally, when asked about what he spends all his extra cash on, Trent lit up and said, ‘with my money I want to save enough to treat my family to things like Pats games or trips. I also want to make some upgrades to my skateboard like to the wheels and axels. New bearings would be sweet too!’
In getting to know Trent it has been my greatest pleasure to learn about his value to any work place. He loves to belong to team and is a dedicated partner to be able to count on. He values his work life balance and is never afraid to share in conversation-especially if it’s about the great outdoors or thrashing during the summer. He is adaptable, polite, and an all-around unique guy!
Thank you Trent for sharing your passions with me!
COR Family Member
Read the story on the UofR website: https://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/feature-stories/current/2019/11-07.html
Inclusive employment opportunities are ideal for everyone. There are emerging prospective employees who get the opportunity to work as equals alongside amazing employers within our progressive city. However, we are not always as aware of the unsung heroes working tirelessly in the background. The journey these champions embark on can sometimes be long and filled with twists, turns, struggles and triumphs. They don’t wear capes, but they relentlessly work towards what is best for the people closest to them. These champions are the families!
The following is a testimonial from Jarred’s family sharing their perspective on his journey.
A DREAM COME TRUE
“As a family, we have always wished for Jarred to have the opportunity to be employed earning a decent wage. As parents, we pursued inclusive work placements for Jarred, but we were never successful in accessing employment for him. Jarred also wanted to live in his own home. It was a very happy day in March of 2015 when he was able to move into his own condo with a roommate that was supported by Creative Options Regina. Jarred wanted everything that his sister was experiencing.
Jarred completed high school at Dr. Martin LeBoldus High School in 2002, where he had various work experience opportunities through his high school and the Saskatchewan Abilities Council. He was employed at the Cosmopolitan Learning Centre Satellite Program for almost fifteen years and received a small paycheque each month. Through this opportuity, he became skilled in doing various cleaning jobs at businesses in the community, mostly when they were closed. While working at the Satellite Program, he also attended Campus For All at the University of Regina. Jarred really enjoyed attending his University classes and convocated in 2012. It was the highlight of his workweek when he could attend classes as he flourished in the inclusive university community.
Jarred was aware that some of his workmates from the Satellite Program were getting new employment. He would often come home from work and tell us he wanted a new job — his Supervisor would phone me and ask if Jarred was getting new employment because he would tell her he was getting a new job. Many times he would ask to have a day off. We knew Jarred needed a change! Creative Options Regina was also aware that Jarred wanted a change. With our connection to Creative Options Regina and the Campus for All program, we were put in touch with Donna Flaman-Johnson from the 4to40 initiative. Donna found an employment opportunity for Jarred with Ranch Ehrlo Early Learning Centres. The position was to do cleaning in five elementary classrooms for three hours each day and he would stay at one school all week and then rotate to the other schools each week. He would be paid minimum wage, which seemed like a perfect fit. Jarred had to update his resume and go through an interview process (which he was nervous about), and as were we. We did some practice interviews to get him ready. He did very well, and we were so proud of him. Our DREAM CAME TRUE on May 6, 2019, when Jarred started his new job. He completed his three month probation in August, and he is now a very happy young man in his new work environment.
A sincere thank you to Jarred’s family, as well as many others that put their trust in us and their children to live a life they want to live. Without the support of families, the growing inclusiveness in our communities wouldn’t be where it is today.
Ben & Sawyer
Two years ago, we connected with Jamie Carter to talk about her ambitions, dreams, and employment with Regina business, iQ Metrix. This week, we were able to reconnect with Jamie.
Jamie has continued her employment at iQ Metrix for almost three years (since January of 2017) and has developed an exciting rapport with her colleagues and bosses. Her fantastic work ethic and a gift of gab has opened up a universe of opportunities and led her to the University of Regina, where she began her journey in education. In her own words,
“There is no time like the present to get what you want!”
Now years later, following our initial encounter with Jamie, we revisited the discussion about her employment. To jog our memory, we asked her a little bit about the work that iQ Metrix does and she described her current role with the company.
“IQ Metrix is a software programming company. They are different. Everyone there seems to be having so much fun, and they enjoy chatting with me! They’re always busy but seem to be happy! Let me say, though, maybe a little too busy! . . . I’ve gotten more confidence in what I’m doing.”
Full of humour and character, Jamie chuckled at her response. When asked what her favourite part about working was, she replied,
“I like getting my workout with deliveries, and I like joking around with everybody. Thumbs up for iQ Metrix!”
Jamie was excited to add her current role as a University of Regina student to her resume. When we met two years ago, she was adamant about wanting to return to school and pursue more education and today, she can proudly say that she’s been attending classes for three semesters. When asked about the courses she’s taken and currently enrolled in, Jamie explained,
“Two semesters of Cree and this year, one Indigenous studies class so far. I want to take classes that have to do with First Nations. I’m proud of that.”
Where she once explained school as being scary, Jamie now seems filled with motivation and dedication — describing University as:
“…Interesting. My professors are interesting. What I am learning is interesting. I want to be a receptionist someday and work my way up, so I need to go to school for that.”
With such a busy daily life filled with meaningful employment and education, one might think that Jamie would also find time to relax. When asked about her schedule, Jamie replied,
“I’m busy six days a week, man. I don’t have time to relax! But I suppose I like to watch T.V. at home and play with my cat. Just chill- but my [usual] plan for every day is reading. I like to get my brain practice. Not University books always. I just like to wake up my brain after its’ weekend sleep. I need to wake it up and get it back in an education mood. I take it seriously.”
Hanging out in the peripheral of Jamie’s life, we have noticed amazing things about her journey. One quality we appreciate about Jamie is her ability to maintain her unique spark and humorous edge. She loves to laugh and aims to make you smile at every turn. We also appreciate her feeling of accomplishment through the development of her character. Two years ago, Jamie was defining what meaningful employment and education meant to her. Today, reconnecting has illustrated how profoundly she owns her accomplishments. There is a growing hustle in Jamie that inspires us every time we can reunite and celebrate her. This hustle is driven, respectful of its boundaries, and humbling to the untrained eye.
Thank you, Jamie! Thank you, iQ Metrix! Thank you to the University of Regina Campus for All. Today, we acknowledge and celebrate you all for your progressiveness with inclusive employment and building love within our communities.
Lucas Faye, alongside his family and Peco Nagai (Educational Facilitator at Campus For All), are actively defining what inclusive employment means to him, as well as working towards a vision for what it can be for everyone.
Lucas is currently a 4th year student at the University of Regina with assistance from Campus for All — an Inclusive Post-Secondary Education initiative for adults experiencing intellectual disability. Lucas is enrolled in courses that interest him, spreading positivity, love, and a contagious smile to the many people he meets on campus. One thing you might not know about Lucas is that he is also employed as a Teaching Assistant with the Center for Student Accessibility. He is also an employee of Special Olympics Saskatchewan. Students supported by Campus for All attend classes, participate in campus activities, create relationships, prepare for employment, and enjoy the same opportunities as their post-secondary peers.
As we focus on National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we reached out to Lucas, his family, and Peco to share their perspectives on inclusive employment. Together, our conversation focused on how important inclusion has been for Lucas and the culture of Campus for All. Peco shared her profound connection to her position as an immigrant who experienced many barriers to inclusion in a country she now calls home. She began her journey as a Student Advisor for the English as a Second Language program. More than twenty years later, Peco’s involvement [since 2016] in Campus For All has lead to the opportunity to meet, learn from, and grow beside Lucas. Peco identified her hopes for what people can achieve for themselves.
“You must expect that people have their own goals for their lives, and that’s the number one focus, rather than putting our own expectations on students because students need to be respected as the people they are. . . I like to see people become proud of themselves and enjoy their lives fully, regardless of disability. They’re entitled to that.”
Peco also highlighted the importance of finding meaning within the work that we do while encouraging us to understand that finding meaning within a job is completely unique to every single person.
“Every job has meaning because it’s important for the team. If a job provides meaning to you, then it is a meaningful job”
We asked Peco: How can we better promote and encourage inclusive employment?
Peco provided insight on understanding the positive impact that individuality can offer to a workplace and our communities.
“The number one thing is giving people a chance, as well as not to be afraid. These people are not fragile, they are strong, they are adults and they are our equals that come to work. Don’t be overly protective. Work together from your heart, because sometimes we close our kindness and simply saying ‘that’s okay, you don’t have to do this’ is not being kind. Have the mindset that you CAN do it, think about how you can do it. . .Or better yet, let’s think together.”
Both Lucas and Peco reflected on the meaningful work within his role. Shredding important confidential documents, folding T-shirts for the Student Success Centre, and maintaining the integrity of the computers in the office are among some of the key duties he fulfills. Peco also shared an important story regarding Lucas’ character advancement and how it has impacted her as a person.
“We planned a big celebration – a big event welcoming about sixty people and Lucas planned everything from menus, to budget, invitations, the master of ceremonies, the clean-up and setup and everything involved. I was amazed at how much Lucas could do. . . I realized that we need to have higher expectations of these students. I explained, he learned, and he did it. So I had to learn to trust him. . . Lucas surprised so many people. We invited office workers, managers, directors — all were just surprised. This made the Centre of Student Accessibility realize they wanted Lucas as a casual employee – so thank you, Lucas.”
While Peco discussed how much professional development has occurred within Lucas, she also realized that as an employer, trusting in his abilities supported his natural growth. Peco identified how her trust evolved into counting on Lucas in his role.
“Strength will build up more and more, so please don’t count on the first appearance of people. It’s about the opportunity we provide for people. . . Being part of a team, we realize how much we rely on the good work that Lucas provides to the team and the only thing we expect is him being himself. . . four years ago when Lucas came, he was my first student. I never would have thought that Lucas would be here right now.”
A strong support system plays an important role in the success of any student or employee. Lucas’ family worked together with Peco in order to support the successes and failures that Lucas has experienced along the way. As an inclusive employer, a connection with families is a key factor for the development and success of the employee.
“Lucas’ parents trusted me, they did not see me as a person that pushed too much by bringing him to that overworked zone. They also supported me and we communicated very closely about the work we wanted him to do, the challenges and stresses in order to work towards a better outcome next time. . . Family support is very big.”
Lucas added to the conversation by sharing his own perception of the role he fulfils at Campus for All. He identified his achievements in event organization and utilization of computer programs, which landed among his most meaningful duties.
“I make student lists for people’s classes like time, location, e-mail addresses. . . data entry into Excel, Powerpoint and Word”
Given Lucas’ exuberant character, we were interested in asking him a few questions about what makes him so awesome. We asked Lucas what he loves to do in his spare time.
“Music, listening on my iPod: Abba, Barenaked Ladies, all kinds of stuff. If I had a million dollars is my favourite!”
And once asked how much he would share with us if he had a million dollars, Lucas jokingly responded “I’d give a thousand to each of you guys.” We also asked Lucas what his dream job is. If he could be anything in the world, what would he be?
“I’d like to be a bus driver, the city bus. . .I usually take the bus. . .I’ve helped Robbie, Taylor and Amelia too. I can do that, I can show people how to ride the bus”
When posed with the question of how he likes to spend his hard earned money, Lucas stated:
“I usually save it, I’m not much of a spender. I save up for games and eventually would save up to go to Los Angeles to go on Disney rides.”
We also asked Lucas if he would recommend that people become part of Campus for All.
“I recommend people work for Campus for All. I enjoy working here.”
Allen, Lucas’ father, shared the family’s insight on how opportunity has opened up for his son. The inclusiveness they have experienced together has largely shaped the man Lucas is.
“Now he has even gained employment right in the University to help him get further trained for his employment and life ahead. This is all so important. He has just started this job, but I know that they will be so inclusive and open to him. So, as you can see, Lucas has been very fortunate to have had great opportunities over the past.”
Allen expressed the family’s deep gratitude for the roles that so many have had in Lucas’ life over the years. He also shared his perception of Campus for All and the message it sends for a more inclusive society.
“Not only does it give a chance for a much better life for students with better job opportunities, self-sufficiency and a more blossoming interest in life and education. It also helps regular students learn to accept, understand and integrate those with an intellectual disability in their own lives. I hope and pray that this program can always continue and expand so much further and help so many more people.”
Lucas, thank you for being YOU. You are defining what employment truly means for you. You actively show us what opportunity, trust and empowerment can offer for inclusiveness within our communities. Way to go, Lucas!
As a young child, a blast shook Peter Rhodes awake one night.
A furnace explosion caused the family’s house to catch fire while Rhodes and his sister were inside.
“I was scared,” he recalled in a recent interview. “I had no clothes on, nothing like that. I got seriously burned.”
Thanks to their neighbours who called for help, Rhodes and his sister were rescued by firefighters.
Now 47 year old, Rhodes — who lives with an intellectual disability — recalls that moment as one of the things that inspired his dream of working in fire services, a dream that has finally come true.
“I felt like giving up, but I didn’t,” said Rhodes from Regina Fire & Protective Services Fire Station No. 2 where he is the first employee hired with an intellectual disability.
It hasn’t been easy for Rhodes to finally arrive at his dream job, following in the footsteps of his father who was a firefighter.
Originally from B.C., his father died when Rhodes was three years old. His mother later died of lung cancer, and Rhodes bounced around in foster care before landing in Saskatoon and eventually Regina.
For the past 10 years, he has been a client of Creative Options Regina (COR) — a non-profit organization that develops personalized support services for people with disabilities.
He has worked a few jobs around the city thanks to a program jointly operated between COR and the University of Regina’s Campus for All called 4to40, which connects people experiencing disabilities with forward-thinking employers.
But none compare to this one.
“He was so excited, even after … he went down to the fire hall for the first time,” said Donna Flaman Johnson, an inclusive employment broker for 4to40. “He left that day on top of the world.”
Rhodes works two, three-hour shifts a week helping his platoon with daily chores and inventory checks.
“Fire service is about helping people and when you hear Peter’s story, you can’t help but want to help him fulfill his dream,” said Kevin Digney, assistant chief of operations.
Starting off slow, they’ve introduced Rhodes to one platoon at station No. 2. Together, they do daily chores like sweeping, mopping, washing the trucks and hoses and more. He always has a job coach with him for guidance and so he’s not alone in the station if the platoon has to go out on a call.
His favourite part, he said, is washing tools.
Rhodes worked his third shift on Wednesday, but he has already blended into the team like he’d been there all along, sipping coffee in the kitchen and going about his tasks with quiet confidence. Everyone appeared at ease, despite how new the situation was for all of them.
He was quiet and a little shy, but broke into a hearty laugh after Digney joked about photoshopping a fellow firefighter’s lush hair onto his balding head in any photos going to press.
“I was happy,” said Rhodes of when he found out he’d got the job. “I know I can do it.”
But not everyone felt the same way. Rhodes’ roommate told him he couldn’t do it, called him a coward.
“I told him I’m … no coward,” said Rhodes, whose very presence in the station proved his old roommate wrong.
He’s doing well, said Digney, and it’s clear that the station is happy to have him as they guide him through his duties with respect and compassion.
“What they told me when I was down at the fire hall was that working for the fire department is like being part of a family,” said Flaman Johnson in an interview.
“Here they are basically bringing Peter in like he’s one of them — to support him, to encourage him, to give him new experiences and (get him to) try new things, to grow,” she added. “That’s exactly what family is all about.”
Flaman Johnson, who’s been with 4to40 since last fall, met Rhodes in early spring and has interviewed him extensively about the things he likes to do so that his work with the fire department would be meaningful, an important part of any job, for any person.
She said she loved him from the moment she met him and saw immediately the love others had for him too.
“Everybody just wanted this to work out for Peter because they know this has literally been his dream for years,” said Flaman Johnson. “I just find it so fulfilling and so inspiring when I see organizations open themselves up to this type of work arrangement.”
Seeing Rhodes in the fire station, you can tell he’s just proud to be there, she said.
And it’s a step in the right direction, said Digney, in the city’s commitment to having a diverse and inclusive workshop.
“It’s new,” said Digney. “The fire service is traditional, a lot of culture and it’s time that we have a new tradition.
“He’s been looked after very well from the guys at the station here and as we move him out to the different platoons and the different stations I have no doubt he’ll be embraced and treated as one of our own.”
Rhodes’ message to those who haven’t found their way to their own dream job yet?
“It’s not easy to come here at all,” he said. “It takes time.”
But he didn’t give up.