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New Glasgow Mayor on the Success of the Mentoring Plus Strategy in the Community

Posted by Jackie Jardine on June 8, 2022 in News

The Mentoring Plus Strategy is a federally funded project overseen by Dalhousie’s Faculty of Open Learning & Career Development. By seeking to turn the “problem” of seniors’ inclusion into an opportunity for intergenerational knowledge exchange, the program is a vivid illustration of Dalhousie’s commitment to being a ‘civic university.’

Now in year three, the program is reaching new heights with the easing of pandemic restrictions. We recently caught up with New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks to talk about the impact the program has had on her community.


New Glasgow Mayor Nancy Dicks has been a cheerleader for the Mentoring Plus Strategy since its inception and has witnessed first-hand the impact of the program.

“The pilot began in 2018 with our North Nova Education Centre students and we immediately saw the benefits,” she says.

“It was a really significant opportunity for our Grade 10 students to connect with people in the work world – retirees – and they were immediately engaged. Over the past couple of years, you can see the impact it has on those being mentored and, very noticeably, on the people who are mentoring. This has all resulted in a Mentoring Plus High School strategy that can benefit all high schools.”

The Mentoring Plus Strategy is valuable to the community, she notes, principally because of the relationships it creates.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen it spread throughout many different aspects of our community. Partnerships have been created, connecting to organizations like Nova Scotia Works Career Connections, CBDC – Northern Opportunities for Business Limited, the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, Ignite Atlantic, DEANS (Destination Eastern & Northumberland Shores), Healthy Pictou County and more. At first, I would never have imagined all the sectors (business, trades, health, education, etc.) that would have become involved in this, but it’s spreading like wildfire.”

The program’s impact in the community has been strong. People are reaching out to organizers when they hear about the program and realize the benefits it can have. From that initial concept of knowledge exchange from retirees to youth who are thinking about their careers, the model was built. The Mentoring Plus Strategy is working with the high schools, NSCC and ST.F.X University who see the value of this incredible community resource.

Mayor Dicks cites two examples of successes that stand out to her as being particularly impactful. The first was an informal, meet-and-greet type of session held at The Commune in New Glasgow where students from local high schools and universities were invited to meet with a variety of health care professional retirees within the community. “Not all of the students had a clear idea of where they were going in the health care field but it gave them an opportunity to speak with a variety of health care professionals and gave them a broader idea of what jobs are available in that field. It was a relaxed, informal opportunity for both the mentors and mentees. It was really impactful to watch them communicate with each other. The casual atmosphere really helped the students feel free to just ask questions they wished and the mentors were so engaged they seemed really excited to be talking about their experiences.”

The second example was a similar session held at Glasgow Square in the Spring of 2021 – since the schools were all closed due to Covid – that was a bit more formal. Mentors were each at a table and groups of two or three students at a time worked their way around the room and connected with the mentors that way. “The students came because they wanted to and the mentors took great pride in sharing their knowledge.”

The success of the program and its positive reception in the community cannot be denied and Mayor Dicks would like to see it continue.

We’ve seen from the beginning just how important these relationships are that have been created and the fact that it can go off in many different directions as needed. It has created terrific partnerships throughout the community and I think that’s the way to keep it sustainable. I have heard many of the mentors themselves saying they wished this type of program existed when they were deciding on a career. That speaks volumes.”

Mayor Dicks was quick to point out that the program would not be possible if not for the vision, leadership and dedication of Gordon Michael, executive director of The Mentoring Plus Strategy.  Gordon saw the benefits of knowledge exchange and worked with the communities on a pilot project that was the basis of the federal four-year funding source.