Right Direction Online

December 30, 2014

Talking to Kids Early Snags Career Trek an Innovation Award

Career Trek’s Fund Development Officer, Meghan Laube, accepted the National Youth Employment Innovation Award for Career Trek at a special luncheon on October 3 in Collingwood, Ontario.

Meghan’s light blue eyes sparkle with excitement as she attributes the grad-prize win to Career Trek’s proactive career development approach, noting that Career Trek must be on the right track.

“I think one of the biggest differences for us is how early we start to engage young people in the conversation. Not a lot of people do that,” says Meghan. The depth and breadth of what participants in Career Trek see is unmatched anywhere else.”

As grand-prize winner of the innovation award, Career Trek received a complementary ticket to the weekend-long conference on workforce engagement and a spot on the innovation award winners panel with the three runners up.

Many of the people that Meghan spoke with at the award luncheon work in what she calls reactionary programming, on the retention and rehabilitation side of youth employment.

“Many people approached me following the discussion and were really refreshed by our proactive approach and commented on how positive the approach is,” says Meghan.

The Innovation Award is a national contest open to applicants from Canadian Community based organizations. Handed out annually by the National Youth Employment Coalition and First Work, the award recognizes innovative programs and projects that lead to youth employment and career success.

“We were overwhelmed by the number and quality of submission [sic] and with the successes achieved by these projects and programs,” says Michelle Haddad, Senior Events and Programs Coordinator at First Work. “It was truly a challenge selecting the contest grand prize and runner-up winners for this year.”

According to Haddad, the contest judges were impressed with the fact that Career Trek’s programming focuses on hands-on learning, employment skills, and bridge building. They were also impressed with Career Trek’s extensive network of partnerships and how it engages youth starting at age 10 and then follows them through into post-secondary studies.

“The amount that our participants get to see and do really showcases all of their options and that is something we really do a lot differently than other places,” says Darrell Cole, Founder and CEO or Career Trek. “And we were recognized for that.”

According to Meghan, a lot of questions about how to better serve youth are currently being asked by organizations and governments across the globe. Many countries are struggling with high or record high levels of unemployment, especially youth unemployment, there are a lot of questions about work readiness, about youth leaving high school and post-secondary and being ready to work. There is a lot of confusion about what the best strategy is and she feels like Career Trek is on the right track.

July 30, 2014

Brandi’s Story

Career Trek plays ‘monumental’ part in role model’s success

Brandi is a teacher at St. John’s High School in the Winnipeg School Division and teaches Grade 7 Language Arts. She has long sandy coloured hair and sparkling eyes and is thankful for the opportunities life has presented.

Brandi’s current happiness, however, wasn’t always a sure thing. When she was a young woman working for Career Trek, as an Environmental Science Instructor, in 2005 she was offered two well paying jobs in Alberta, jobs she was pressured to accept.

In the end Brandi chose to follow her passion for teaching, a passion she had discovered while working for Career Trek.

“If it wasn’t for Career Trek I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have gone into Education, says Brandi. “While I was an instructor I discovered my passion for teaching and decided to apply.”

Years later, Brandi’s passion has transformed her into a health expert, fitness leader, singer, model and, most importantly, a motivational speaker. Brandi travels the province working with youth, band members, and educators teaching self-esteem and self-care.

Her work has recently been recognized by Indspire, a charitable organization dedicated to raising funds to deliver programs that provide tools for indigenous people.   Brandi recently won an Indsipre Award for her work.

“It is an incredible honour to work with students, families, and communities from across Canada, helping them to know themselves and to teach them self-esteem and self-care,” says Brandi. “I really credit Career Trek for my success. If I was not an instructor in the program I would not be an Educator today. Career Trek has played a monumental role in my life.”

July 30, 2014

River Phoenix Lathlin

As a welder in training and a role model in his community, Junior Staffer forges strong connections

Career Trek junior staffer River Phoenix Lathlin was surprised that he was chosen for the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal in Trades. But his welding instructor Monty Morrisseau certainly wasn’t.

Monty says 21-year-old River excels in anything he puts his mind to. Not only is River a skilled welder, his commitment to helping young people in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation where he lives is remarkable.

“Whatever he decides to do, he can achieve. I don’t think you can hold him back,” Monty says.

The first-year welding student at University College of the North in the Pas, Man., received the award in June. Three silver medals are awarded annually at the post-secondary institute to students who demonstrate proficiency in trade, diploma and certificate programs.

River recently competed against third-year welding students at the annual Skills Manitoba Competition and placedfourth, beating out a couple of dozen competitors.River’s current employer has been praising the up-and-comer on his work ethic, skills and positive attitude, Monty says.

But it is River’s success helping young people in his community that might be his most impressive feat. He works with RCMP officers to improve relations between police and area kids, and is also a member of the Junior Chief and Council.

He helps to arrange extracurricular activities like soccer, hockey, baseball and martial arts to keep teens away from gangs and drugs. It’s not always easy to convince them to get involved.

“We have a lot of programming going on. I guess the kids don’t hear about it or just don’t want to go so that’s why we go talk to them personally, make friends with them and ask them to come along. We offer encouragement,” River says.

He also reacquaints the aboriginal youth with their ancestors’ culture, organizing an annual camping trip with elders where they can learn how to cook bison, experience pipe ceremonies, and play traditional games.

“I don’t like seeing young children walking around, acting the way they do, dressed the way they are, and they don’t know their real culture and they like to down it because others down it to them,” River says. “We want them to feel good about their culture and traditions.”

He also wants them to feel good about themselves. River is organizing an upcoming suicide prevention walk in an attempt to reduce the suicide rate among teens on his reserve. He has lost two friends to suicide—ages 15 and 17—in as many years.

“We want kids to grow up making the right choices,” says River.

He plans on earning his Red Seal certification in welding and owning his own company. Monty says he wouldn’t be surprised if River one day became a strong aboriginal leader in the world of politics.

“For somebody of that age to have that type of concern for the youth in his community is pretty awesome. He is a really good role model,” says Monty. “His future is wide open.”

July 30, 2014


Tanner is a laidback 14 year-old who thought he knew what career he wanted, until Career Trek changed the direction of his life.

Tanner was enrolled in Career Trek’s Phase 2 Project when he found out that the program he wanted to attend was filled and he would have to accept his second choice: Aerospace Technology.

“I am happy I got switched because it was fun and there was lots to do,” says Tanner. “I fell in love with it! I knew I wanted to do this. This is what I want to do.”

Tanner’s exposure to a different occupation has changed his career goal and, with Career Trek’s help, he has figured out the steps he needs to reach it. He has even chosen to go to a different high school, one that has courses that will help him on his journey.

Tanner’s story is an example of the life changing impact that Career Trek programming can have on the life of children and youth – all made possible because of you.

When asked if Career Trek has had an impact on his life, Tanner’s face lights up. “I think a big one!” he says, “It turned my career choice around. I now know that this is 100 per cent what I want to do thanks to Career Trek.”

June 30, 2014

Chris Tekpetey

‘The next step in his Career Trek’

Phase II project manager pursues his entrepreneurial spirit

Long-time team member Chris Tekpetey can sum up his experience with Career Trek in one, weighty word: transforming.

“In many ways, Career Trek has been a catalyst for who I’ve become,” says Chris, who credits the organization with helping him grow not only professionally but as a person.

He left in May to start his own business.

When Chris joined Career Trek as a group leader in 2002 at age 21, he had no idea it would turn into such a big part of his life. “It just began as a part-time job to get a couple of extra bucks in my pocket. But the people were so amazing that I came back every year.”

He eventually secured a full-time position and during the last decade took on a number of roles, including his most recent as Phase II project manager.

His co-workers will miss his drive and physical bursts of enthusiasm. Chris was also a favorite among trekkers, who would often describe him as “super cool” in their program evaluation forms.

It was early on that Chris understood the level of impact you can have on kids through the program. He recalls walking along River Avenue when out of nowhere someone called out to him.

“I heard somebody calling, saying ‘Hey! Hey!’ Everybody who was walking looked away, so I casually looked back over my shoulder and it was a man and woman in their pickup truck, screaming out of the window: ‘Hey, aren’t you from Career Trek? My daughter loved you guys! Great work!’ That passion that came out of the parents, it was just amazing. I was only 21 at the time and it just blew my mind.”

Chris says he will definitely instill in his own kids the lessons he learned at Career Trek about positivity and believing in one’s potential. “I was so blessed to have that opportunity,” he notes.

Chris now runs and co-owns a residential and commercial cleaning business, Custom Maids Janitorial Services Inc. A rapper himself (known as Tek), he also manages Toronto hip-hop artist R.O.Z.

“Thank you Chris, and good luck with the next step in your Career Trek,” says the organization’s founder Darrell Cole.

Chris said he’s excited about his new opportunities but leaving Career Trek felt like saying goodbye to part of his family.

“It really is a family. It’s growing but still has a sense of family. I hope that never leaves.”