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Overcoming employment barriers: Kevin Lacelle celebrates one year at Canadore College

Aug 15, 2023 | Vanessa Tignanelli, Storyteller & Content Creator

A year ago today, Kevin Lacelle (47) walked through The Village doors and began his first day at work with Canadore College.

As our Community Connector Assistant, Kevin has built meaningful relationships and impacted our college community in many ways, not only through his hard work and dedication, but also in the way that Kevin has overcome barriers to employment as a person with an intellectual disability.

Kevin is a partner of Community Living Employment Services, which pairs people with intellectual disabilities with employers in North Bay. This non-profit organization offers free job coaching services, training, supports for employers, and placement opportunities to help employees build their resumes and find permanent full-time work.

Andrea Jones-Pascoe, Executive Assistant to Vice-President Shawn Chorney, is a previous employee of Community Living and knew that Canadore College would be the perfect place to champion their programming.

"The Community Living organization is built on the belief that everyone has unique abilities and strengths that can contribute to an inclusive community," explains Andrea. "As one of the top employers in North Bay, Canadore shares this belief."

The Village was a great fit for Kevin. As a community-facing facility, there were a number of tasks and programs that required assistance – from watering plants around campus, to helping set up the flex room for events and activities, greeting students and community members, and walking seniors to and from their cars during winter months. He has quickly become a staple within the Village team.

"I’m concerned about people’s safety and health, I’m looking out for seniors, students, and my coworkers," says Kevin. "When I heard the job title Community Connector, it was awesome and cool. It means I am always friends with people and they appreciate my hard work too.”

He is the first employee to arrive every day, proudly adorned in Canadore swag from head to foot.

“These folks are motivated and willing but may not have the skills to apply for a job, and simply need that champion to help them take the first step," says Andrea. "It’s very difficult for someone who has a barrier to employment to secure a job, so a lot of times when they do get hired they are the most loyal, motivated employee. They will have pride and do the job well.”

Micheline Demers, Project Manager of The Village Collective Impact Project, says that having Kevin has been a great experience for the staff and students. "The goal is to provide him with references to seek permanent employment. We are a training centre, offering skill-building through hands-on experience. It’s been wonderful to see his relationships develop."

Kevin has held previous positions working in restaurants throughout North Bay and delivering flyers for local newspapers, yet these jobs were always behind the scenes. His role at Canadore has proven to him, and everyone on his team, that he excels most in roles that work directly with people.

Canadore College aims to be an innovative leader in the community in addition to an education centre. Hiring Kevin has been a rewarding first experience working in partnership with Community Living, allowing someone to gain the experience they need, to build their resume and enter the workforce being able to proudly say that they worked at Canadore. We hope this leads to future placement opportunities for individuals with barriers to employment.

When asked what his favourite part of the past year at Canadore has been, Kevin said: "Day one."

If you are an employer, consider giving a position to someone with an intellectual disability. To learn more about Community Living Employment Services, please visit:

#Canadore College #The Village