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Hakim Ibrahim

2016 Gary Mason Learner Achievement Award

Hakim left his family in Sudan due to war there. He travelled through many countries in Africa seeking peace and stability, and eventually arrived in Ghana in 2011 where he spent almost four years in a refugee camp.

After a long process, Hakim was able to immigrate to Nova Scotia in 2015. “I found a job, but faced so many difficulties communicating with people in my workplace that I asked my caseworker about going to school.” Hakim attended the Bedford School for six weeks. “My teacher encouraged me to go to the Cunard Learning Centre. I am now in Level III at Cunard and I am able to understand what people say and respond to them confidently.”

Hakim’s instructor says he is a leader in the classroom and never hesitates to help other classmates when needed. “His positive attitude, academic and social abilities, and his story of success create a combination that will inspire others to strive for higher learning.”

Read Hakim's NSPGI award acceptance speech

“I see many changes in me from when I began school! I believe if we are all educated, the world will be a better place to live! ” ~ Hakim Ibrahim

E. Dale Reddick

2016 Nova Learning Inc Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award

Dale left school early for a career as a bus driver for the schoolboard, which he kept for many years. “After transporting generations of kids back and forth from school, I decided that it was me that needed to restart my academic journey.”

Applying and going back to learning was intimidating at first for Dale. “When I left school, there were blackboards, but now there are computers and projection screens. I was older than my fellow classmates and some of my teachers.”

Now that he has successfully completed grade 12, Dale has set his sights on furthering his education and obtaining a trade. “With the years of experience driving that I already have, I plan to take the Heavy Machine Operator’s course.”

Read Dale's NSPGI award acceptance speech

“The sense of pride I have from accomplishing my goal has been a huge confidence boost.” ~ E. Dale Reddick

Pamala Lynn Pick

2015 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Achievement Award
In 2013 Pamala decided to return to her education because she knew it was the only way she could achieve the future she desired. The single mother of two faced the challenge of balancing school with home life; however, her determination and eagerness to learn helped her overcome this challenge.

Pamala will receive her high school diploma in June 2015. She has been accepted into the Community Disability Supports Program at the NSCC Kingstec Campus.

Pamala’s instructor wrote, “After one year, I had instructors from post-secondary programs at the college coming to me telling me that Pam was teaching their students how to write effectively using APA format.”

Read Pamala's NSPGI award acceptance speech

“This experience has changed my life, and I can now walk into a room and hold my head high.” ~ Pamala Lynn Pick

Rachel Teah

2015 Nova Scotia Business Inc. Learner Achievement Award Winner
After arriving in Canada from Liberia, Rachel realized that the majority of jobs require at least a high school diploma. Due to the circumstances of Liberia she did not have the support or the financial resources to continue any further than Grade 3 in the Liberian education system.

Rachel is a passionate learner. She is currently enrolled in the Cunard Learning Centre where she is working towards her goal of having a career in the field of accounting. When the EAL program was in jeopardy of being cut she voiced her concern to the local MLA.

“Her dedication to her studies has not only improved her skills but has driven her to become more self-assured as she continues on her learning path,” said Rachel’s tutor.

Read Rachel's NSPGI award acceptance speech

“When I started at the Cunard Learning Centre, it was difficult to understand what I was learning. Writing a simple letter used to be a huge challenge for me, but after a few months of studying, it became much easier.” ~ Rachel Teah

Todd Kenyon

2014 Nova Learning Inc. Nova Scotia Learner Award
Todd will receive his high school diploma in June 2014 and has been recognized as the Outstanding Contribution Award recipient within the Adult Learning Program this year.

Todd battled through the obstacles and problems that held him back and is now grateful for the opportunities that returning to school has provided. In September he will enter the Political Studies program at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Todd’s instructor describes him as being the kind of human being you hope every child will grow up to become. “Todd has had countless struggles, but he has tapped into his inner strength and resilience in order to rise up, persevere, and continue moving forward. Not only does Todd have a willingness to learn, but he also supports his fellow students’ learning through countless hours of tutoring, and still excels in all of his seven courses.” Read Todd's NSPGI award acceptance speech

“I feel more confident than ever in my abilities as a student and as a leader. I am truly grateful for the opportunities that returning to school has provided.”
~ Todd Kenyon

Samia Eldik

2014 Nova Scotia Business Inc. Learner Achievement Award Winner
In 2003, Samia and her family arrived in Canada from Sudan. After tragically losing her husband, she knew she needed to learn English and gain more skills and knowledge that would lead to employment.

Right from the start, her tutor could see that Samia was a keen, curious and eager learner. “I have rarely had the opportunity to work with a student more driven to succeed. Samia’s commitment and achievement is inspirational.” Her tutor recalls how Samia wanted to learn how to write a letter. “While Samia waited for me to arrive for our session, she made her first attempt at letter writing. The note informed me that she would not be able to meet for our next session because she and her children would be receiving their Canadian Citizenship.” Read Samia's NSPGI award acceptance speech

“I am confident that I will achieve my goal of earning my Grade 12 so I can go on to Community College to study to become a homecare worker. I will be successful as long as I keep on trying.” ~ Samia Eldik

How NSPGI Helps Adult Learners in Nova Scotia

“The PGI grants are wonderful. Most of the time this is the only funding that we can rely on to provide direct support to learners. Giving a learner a book or a meal demonstrates compassion, and provides another level of support that is often missing in the lives of those who have the most severe challenges for learning, work, health, and quality of life. Our heartfelt thanks to the NSPGI for making a huge difference.” ~ Guysborough County Adult Learning Association

PGI Grants Help CANU Put Balance in Adult Learning

What do fossils, Cyrus Eaton, and the Amazing Race have in common?
All three represent innovative learning opportunities that were funded by PGI Grants at the Cumberland Adult Network for Upgrading (CANU) in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Since 2004, CANU has helped adult learners step out of their comfort zones and learn new skills at their annual Balance Expo, a vital and meaningful learning opportunity funded by PGI Grants. The Expo is a day-long event held each year in various communities throughout Cumberland County. Learners, instructors and volunteers get out of the traditional classroom setting and ‘hit the road’ to activities in other locations. The Expo happens either in the spring or the fall, depending on the availability of the venue and the facilitators, and whatever time of the year works best for the activities planned.

During the 2010 CANU Balance Expo, learners gained new appreciation for an incredible educational resource that is right in their own backyard. They visited the Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Site in Joggins, Nova Scotia. The Joggins site contains the world’s finest examples of fossil records from the Pennsylvanian 'Coal Age' approximately 310 million years ago. In 1852, Sir William Dawson, considered the founder of modern geology, discovered amphibian and reptile tetrapods fossilized in trees preserved in the Joggins cliffs. His discovery is considered pivotal to understanding the origins of all vertebrate life on earth. CANU learners toured the fossil centre and roamed the Joggins beaches on their own geological explorations.

2013 CANU Balance Expo participants visited The Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash, a National Historic Site and formerly the summer home of Cyrus Eaton, the Nova Scotia-born banker, businessman and philanthropist. The Thinker’s Lodge is famous for being the location of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization founded at the height of the Cold War in the 1950’s to address the possibility of a global nuclear war. The Pugwash Conference is still an annual event at The Thinker’s Lodge, where global experts gather to discuss peaceful conflict resolution. CANU learners toured the Lodge, enjoyed a history lesson, and were thrilled to sit in the very same chairs that Cyrus Eaton and scientists from around the world sat in during the first Pugwash conference in 1957.

Later that same day, CANU’s ‘Amazing Race Pugwash’ helped participants develop their map reading, computer, communication and social skills, and to be more physically active. To prepare for the race, CANU joined Heart&Stroke Walkabout, an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation that encourages Nova Scotians to realize the physical and mental benefits of walking in their communities. Pedometers were purchased for the learners and everyone was encouraged to create an account on walkaboutns.ca where they could record their walking stats. During the race, everyone worked in pairs; each learner was partnered with a learner they had not yet met, and each pair had a map of Pugwash. The object was to follow the map and be the first pair to arrive at the end destination. Everyone enjoyed the amazing race and came away with increased skills, more familiarity with Pugwash and a greater appreciation of simply getting out and walking. Many learners still use their pedometers and login to the walkabout site to record their walking stats. CANU plans to set up walking challenges between adult learning classes, instructors and board members, and this will motivate everyone to stay active.

Special t-shirts sporting graphics and information on CANU are produced each year for Balance Expo participants. Learners, coordinators, instructors, and volunteers all wear the t-shirts, so no there’s no indication of what someone’s position is within the organization or what community they are from. This levels the playing field for everyone, increases the comfort level of those who may feel nervous about participating, and encourages all participants to relate to each other as equals. The t-shirts also help market CANU and its programs; learners become ambassadors for adult learning when they wear the t-shirts around their communities and answer questions about CANU.

CANU Coordinator Beth Estabrooks and Program Coordinator Catherine Wile say there are many CANU learner success stories they could tell, but when measuring the direct impact that PGI Grants have on adult learners, one story in particular comes to mind. “We had a student who was being tutored one-on-one in Pugwash. She was very isolated, lonely and extremely shy. When she came to the 2011 Balance Expo, she realized that she was not alone, and that there are many people just like her who are striving to improve their education and get their high school diploma. Interacting with the other learners at the Expo helped her discover self-confidence she didn’t know she had. This learner is now continuing her studies in Halifax which is an enormous leap for her, and something she would never have felt able to do a short time ago.”

Beth and Catherine say they would not be able to hold the annual Balance Expo without PGI Grant money, and they make every dollar count when planning this enriching learning experience. CANU adult learning programs are all only part-time, which offers a very limited time frame to go through the curriculum, or to have the learners interact with each other. Being together for the entire day of the Balance Expo forges a special social connection among participants that they would not normally have. The Balance Expo activities enrich the learning opportunities for the adult learners outside the classroom environment.

CANU’s Balance Expo gives adult learners exposure to the rich local history and culture of Cumberland County of which many were unaware. Many Expo participants had never been outside their communities before. Learning outside the classroom helps CANU learners to value their home communities, and also to understand that they are an essential part of something much greater.

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Hakim Ibrahim
Hakim Ibrahim

E Dale Reddick
E. Dale Reddick

Todd Kenyon
Pamala Lynn Pick

Todd Kenyon
Rachel Teah

Todd Kenyon
Todd Kenyon

Samia Eldik
Samia Eldik

Joggins Beach
CANU learners explored the Joggins Fossil Cliffs during the 2010 Balance Expo.

Thinkers Lodge
CANU Balance Expo participants visited The Thinker’s Lodge in Pugwash in September 2013.

CANU learners
Since CANU adult learning programs are only part-time, being together for the entire day of the Balance Expo forges a special social connection among the learners that they would not normally have.