CORNER BROOK, NL—
College of the North Atlantic (CNA) recently completed a consultancy in the Anglo-Caribbean community on accessibility to higher education for persons with disabilities.
Jeff Patry, Counsellor at CNA’s Corner Brook campus, was part of the consultancy which started in December 2020. He notes that it provided a fantastic opportunity for each of the participating institutions to provide and create a community of best practices.
“CICan (Colleges and Institutes Canada), through support from Global Affairs Canada, partnered with CNA and NorQuest College to create a consultancy to work with participating institutions in the Caribbean to provide enhanced support for persons with disabilities,” he said.
Specifically, the college’s work was part of the Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) program. The initiative will help countries like Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and St. Lucia become more resilient through supporting demand-driven technical and vocational education training (TVET) in key economic sectors associated with climate change in the Caribbean.
Patry became involved in the program through Elizabeth Vincent, CNA’s Associate Vice President, International and the CNA Global initiative.
“We knew that CNA has a lot to offer in our experience with Counselling and Accessibility Services. Together with our Canadian partner bid institutions, we proposed a strategy to learn the needs of our Caribbean partners and then develop a training series and regular coaching on best practices.”
It was a collaborative effort, he notes, saying the CNA team worked with Felipe Civita-Ferreira, International Projects Officer, and Angela Wilm, an instructor and founder of the Disability Studies program at NorQuest to prepare the bid.
CNA has a long history of working on international projects and Patry was very excited to be part of this project.
“As part of CNA Global, the team identifies partnerships where we can provide skills and resources to support Global Affairs Canada mandates,” he said. “This is very important for the college as it not only provides support to partnering colleges throughout the world, but also offers opportunities for us to equally learn from each of our partners and gain a stronger global insight.”
Patry visited each partner country this past spring and noticed the impact the pandemic has had on these areas.
“During May and June, my colleague, Angela, and I visited each of the six partner countries. The economies in each of the countries, which were all very dependent on tourism, have been quite impacted by the pandemic. Nonetheless, everyone was very warm and welcoming.”
He says the trip provided him and his colleagues with an opportunity to talk about their personal experiences.
“Most people were sharing stories with Angela and me once they learned our project was to help technical colleges support and reduce barriers for students with exceptionalities/disabilities access post-secondary education,” he said, adding that the trip has had a lasting effect on him.
“It was so impactful to me personally to hear of the stories and experiences from each of the people we worked with in the Caribbean. Some told us stories of family members who had disabilities and they hoped one day they would have equal access to education.”
He says he also enjoyed seeing the excitement from everyone involved in the project.
“The enthusiasm from the faculty and staff at the colleges was so great to see. They work hard and really want to see everyone in their country prosper and have the same advantages that a good education can bring to an individual,” he said.
For more information, visit www.cna.nl.ca
College of the North Atlantic