Cannexus19 conference wrap-up: What we learned about career counselling

Carley McDougallBlogs, Conference Wrap Up

Career Counsellors attending Cannexus19
Cannexus19: Photo:// Cannexus, Fred Cattroll

Career planning is one of the most difficult tasks students face during their post-secondary education, and here at Campus Manitoba, we’re always looking for new ways to help support students in this crucial step.

Three members of our Campus Manitoba team (Kim Grenier Mintenko, Carley McDougall, and DawnDena Gordon) recently visited Ottawa to attend Cannexus19, Canada’s largest bilingual career development conference. We wanted to understand how we can better support career educators and counsellors as well as the students seeking support.

Currently, our Set Your Course website allows individuals to explore career and education pathways in Manitoba. The site also has a Career Planning section. Strengthening this offering is one of the reasons we attended Cannexus19.

We chatted with Kim, Carley, and DawnDena to discover what most inspired them, what they learned, and what changes they hope to implement in their own work going forward.

Q: Who did you most enjoy hearing from at Cannexus?

Carley: Shellie Deloyer, a leadership coach who gave a presentation about finding your key purpose. She reinforced that you need to make sure you’re aligned and moving forward towards your “why” in every aspect of your life.

Speaking to career counsellors
Shellie Deloyer, discussing finding your ‘why.’ Photo://Cannexus, Fred Cattroll

To help “find your why”, she suggested sending an email to 10 people whose opinions matter to you, and ask them questions like, “What are some of the key things that are integral to me being me?” and “Which of my traits are really important?” This process lets you see your value from someone else’s perspective and gain clarity.

Kim: Kofi Hope, who gave a presentation called “Putting values at the centre of your leadership.” It was about knowing your values and remaining aligned with them in everything you do. He tied it into leadership, and how you bring those values to your organization and model them for your team.

Q: What was one thing you learned at Cannexus?

Carley: This conference showed me that career development is not just about the career. It is so much more than that. It incorporates a person’s mental health, socioeconomic status, background, and support network. Now I realize how deeply individuals who are seeking career advice need to be understood. Career counsellors support them where they are at and help find the path that is right for them.

Q: What was one thing that surprised you?

Carley: I was surprised by how much career developers focus on mental health and self-care. We are realizing that mental health needs to be part of the conversation. It’s not plunking people into jobs; it’s finding paths that work for them where they are at. Someone may seem unmotivated, but this may be because they’re struggling with depression or grief, which is making it difficult for them to pursue an education or a career.

Kim: There were many conversations about knowing yourself, your values, your why, your purpose – career developers are bringing this self-awareness component into their work. The philosophy here is that you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself. Canada’s career counsellors are dedicated to becoming the best they can be before they sit down to offer career development advice to someone else.

Q: What was one thing that moved you?

DawnDena: I really appreciated the discussions on disenfranchised grief – the kind of grief that is unacknowledged. We think grief happens at death, but it can happen any time there is a loss. When there is a beginning, there is always an ending. 

For example, when you receive a promotion, you also receive more money and responsibility. But there is also a loss, in that you may be losing your comfort, routine, desk neighbours, etc. It’s not something people think about, and you may feel you cannot express any negative emotions. Those misgivings about the promotion are often unseen and unheard, yet when they are unexpressed, they can lead people to shut down.

Disenfranchised grief is part of career development, and it’s something we need to talk about more openly so that it doesn’t hold people back.

Q: What is one thing you hope to see going forward?

Carley: At Campus Manitoba, we are going to look for ways to support and work collaboratively with career counselling offices at Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions. A tool like Set Your Course can offer new education ideas to both students and career counsellors, so we want to see it in the hands of everyone who can benefit from it.

If you’re in career counselling, and you’d like to know how Set Your Course can fit into the set of tools you offer students and clients, contact us to schedule a walkthrough.


Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public post-secondary institutions. Through collaborative projects and shared services, we facilitate student mobility and expand access to post-secondary programs for students in Manitoba. In addition to campusmanitoba.ca, our websites include ecoursesmb.casetyourcourse.ca, and openedmb.ca.