What We Learned at Cannexus17


Cannexus17 was a whirlwind of professional development and networking for CPC members and career practitioners across Canada. We would like to share some of our learnings from Canada’s largest bilingual National Career Development Conference. What an adventure!


Wayne Pagani, Maureen McCann, JP Michel and Denis Luchyshyn at the Shaw Center Lookout.


Cannexus17 plenary.

This 11th edition of Cannexus featured more sessions and delegates from the career development field than ever (some of whom travelled from around the globe), representing an array of career related programs and services, human resources, education, government, and business. The name Cannexus came from the marriage of “Canadian” and “nexus,” which means “a connection or series of connections.” I’ve attended several Cannexus conferences and did not know that.

One of my favourite reasons for attending Cannexus is the extraordinary opportunity to network and connect with colleagues from across the country and to initiate new relationships with others.

We kicked the conference off with a meetup hosted by Career Professionals of Canada, which was very well attended, and we made a few new connections with a host of professionals from coast to coast.  The CPC ambassadors for our meetup were Sharon Graham, Kevin Schaffer, Maureen McCann, Trish McNamara, and myself, Wayne Pagani. We quickly learned that you can squeeze quite a few people into a very small amount of space in a pub, as close to 30 people joined our meetup at the Highlander Pub. The discussions were rich as people at different tables talked about everything from careers to their hope that the Rideau Canal would open for a skate before the conference ended.

This year highlighted “Diversity Engagement,” along with the themes of “Well-being” and “Rising to Meet the Challenge.” Despite the gloom and doom that seems to be so pervasive these days, there is hope. Our stories, experience, and passion for helping others can and will make a difference. For example, Roberta Jamieson’s 7-generation perspective showed us that there is still a lot of work to do to resolve the gaps and dire needs of indigenous youth. I also learned that a person’s name can influence hiring managers, who are more prone to hire people more like themselves (we tend to trust those who are most like us).

There are some new terms related to hiring biases: Skills-Discounting, Acculturation, Impression Management. All were new to me and the evidence behind them was even more interesting. I was introduced to various tools including a Five Star well-being and self-discovery instrument that explores skills and passions, and that ends with a cool Wordle map. Marc Kielburger of “From Me to We” shared the term “minga” from a tribal chant which, when translated, is the equivalent of “Riot for Good.” I love that!

There’s one more thing I learned about recording sessions to review later. Make sure to be close –  like really close –  to the stage. When recording an employer panel, my video turned out great; the audio, not so much!

Wayne Pagani


Maureen McCann and Wayne Pagani at the CPC Meetup.

As a first-timer to Cannexus, with over 1,000 participants and 130 workshops I was expecting to be overwhelmed. It was great to meet up on Sunday evening after registering and network with a group of CPC folks. This set the tone for the rest of the conference. I was on a “high.” What I found was that I am not alone in my passion and enthusiasm for this client-centered field. I also found the excellent workshops, keynote speakers, exhibitors, and networking opportunities to be uplifting, rejuvenating, and rewarding. After networking with many career professionals, learning new strategies for helping clients, and feeling the passionate vibes from the conference speakers, I came back feeling enthusiastic about doing my job better. I am definitely going to try to get to Cannexus18.

Judy-Anne Sleep


Judy-Anne Sleep and Antony Godwin getting Beavertails.

Investing time, energy, and money to attend a conference is a difficult decision. But I have attended the last three Cannexus conferences and each year I receive an even more impactful return on my investment. My network is not just strategic and intended to benefit my business; I really enjoy the new relationships and friendships that have bloomed.

Each year, I truly look forward to CPC’s meetup to kick off the conference. Rather than feeling like a first-time guest, I already know fellow members and recognize names and faces when I see them at Cannexus.

The learning opportunities are immeasurable. As an extrovert, I love the balance of group discussions and great plenary presentations that are not just about trends, but confirming for my private practice. As a conference speaker the last two years, I have also learned additional considerations for branding myself and my business. I’ve actually met the people whose research and work I have followed – and been influenced by – and they’ve all been generous with their time, knowledge, and wisdom.

The keynotes are incredible, varied, and inspiring. Each one touches a different piece of my heart and my interests. They will shape my future. If I had a wall in my office of the rockstars of my profession, I would have to say I have now been in the same room as the majority of them. Of course, I will be back next year to meet more of my fellow CPC colleagues who enjoy being the lighthouses, signposts, and intersections of our fellow Canadians’ career journeys.

Gayle Draper

Sarah-Jane VandenBerg, JP Michel, Maureen McCann, Gayle Draper, and Wayne Pagani between sessions.

If ever there were a theme to Canada’s largest professional conference for career practitioners, for me it was “collaboration.” Associations, private practitioners, government funded programs, academic researchers – we all came together to learn from one another and to share best practices that we’ll take back to our clients and integrate into our practices.

Sunday evening before Cannexus, Career Professionals of Canada hosted a meetup and set the tone for what was one of my favourite CERIC-sponsored Cannexus conferences thus far.

I came away with so much, on so many levels, that it’s challenging to simplify it and share it in one concise message. Here are three lenses from which I viewed Cannexus17:

Connection: We, as career professionals, are a network and a community based on relationships. We connect with our clients, our profession, and our economy. We strive to bring the three into alignment. We welcome collaboration across organizations and cross-refer clients and resources to ensure the highest quality outcomes for clients.

Authenticity: We are committed to excellence. Networking with like-minded, dedicated professionals this week was invigorating. One cannot help but want to talk with every person in the room because each is devoted to supporting our collective community. We came from, serve, and specialize in different areas – aboriginal, academic, culture, gender, language, race, religious, retired, sexuality, socio-economic, youth – and yet we share a common directive: help those in need and distress to find a way forward regardless of the barriers they might face.

Excellence: We can be proud of the work career professionals are doing to help Canadians across our country. We are making a positive impact on the state of our nation. We seek to find solutions and resources to tough issues facing our clients. We work tirelessly to serve our clients and provide meaningful reports to funders to ensure the continuation of our programs, research, and services.

As our career practitioner community continues to expand, the foundation that CPC, CERIC, and the Cannexus conference have worked so hard to establish will position, and support, our profession well into the future.

Maureen McCann

MaureenMcCannWaynePaganiCarolBrochuCPC Meetup

Maureen McCann, Wayne Pagani and Carol Brochu at the CPC Meetup.

There is something for everyone at Cannexus, regardless of role or experience in the field. I loved bringing our new Employment Coaches to the conference and seeing their excitement about the vast array of learning opportunities. I always appreciate the wealth of research and expertise that is present at this conference and the opportunity to network with colleagues in the field. Gaining a national perspective on workforce issues and emerging trends is so important for the work we do and is one of my favourite takeaways each year. I always return to Jasper with new ideas, tools, and a deep respect for the many professionals that have chosen this field of work. Feeling rejuvenated and inspired after Cannexus17!

Ginette Marcoux


Wow! What an action packed couple of days! The networking and learning opportunities verge on overwhelming. The constant question is where to go next, and as well as never being sure you’ve made the right decision, only to realize that there are no wrong choices. The keynote speakers were inspirational and I honestly had tears in my eyes during Marc Kielburger’s talk. The Spark luncheon was amazing – an entire conference in itself. There were so many sessions that made me think, and motivated and inspired me. I am still sifting through all the information – rereading notes, checking websites, and deciding how to incorporate material – and then there will be more information uploaded to wade through. Truly, I will be debriefing Cannexus 2017 for a long time to come! So what did I learn? I learned there is still so much to learn and I look forward to all of it!

Susan MacRae


One of the things I learned from Cannexus is the importance of well-being in our field. Stress and burn out are things some of us may experience if we do not take care of ourselves while practicing. I learned that we ourselves must have the courage to address our areas of need (i.e. physical and mental health issues) in order for us to serve our clients better. If these issues are not addressed, then we may cause a disservice to our clients. It will affect the way we interact with them. Doing simple self-care practices can help one prevent this from occurring.

Zeb Trazo


It is an understatement to say that Cannexus17 left me buzzing. Being new to my role in career counselling, I was a sponge in each session, soaking up all that I could. I learned that we can increase our capacity to create change. I learned that career development can also mean identity and meaning development. I learned techniques and tactics for guiding clients towards goal setting and success. I learned that our role is to help clients help themselves to create a future that they are proud and excited to grow towards. Let the countdown to Cannexus18 begin!

Bethany Christen


Ginette Marcoux, Bethany Christen, Susan MacRae, and Zeb Trazo of Jasper Adult Learning Council.

I learned from Roberta Jamieson that we are here in this world to share our gifts for the benefit of others. I learned from Marc Kielburger that we need to “call in the minga,” or come together for collective good. I learned from Gray Poehnell that we should not give up hope, and that even PTSD can create opportunity (PTG, or post-traumatic growth). Gray’s/Norm Amundson’s work on hope will guide me as I continue to advance my “Momcology” passion project. I learned that we, as career professionals, operate in an incredibly nurturing and positive environment where we cheer our colleagues’ successes versus displaying envy, and we know how to have a good time together. Finally, I learned that I still have so much to learn!

Iris Jacobson

Iris Jacobson and Sharon Graham after the Stu Conger Awards ceremony.

What a great conference! I go every year and each year it keeps getting better. I love the expertise that all the speakers bring to Cannexus! To answer “What I learned at Cannexus17″: I now know that I can easily create my own online workshops by downloading PowerPoint Mix for free! We are starting to have the need for online learning and online counselling, and that workshop alone has me excited about the many possibilities! I’ve already started creating an online workshop called “Getting Ready for the Job Fair.”

Trish McNamara


Cannexus17 Opening Ceremonies.

What I learned at Cannexus is that it is extremely important to participate in professional development initiatives as often as possible. With a competitive job market in most communities, and especially rural ones, practitioners need to keep up with current trends and labour market information. We must be creative in our efforts to support clients of different cultures, those with barriers, and youth. Cannexus offers these development opportunities with an excellent venue of workshops, seminars, and fabulous speakers!

Participation in professional development gives us opportunities to learn what’s new and different, as well as to share insights on what’s working and what needs improvement. Aside from a strict focus on work, professional development also offers us opportunities to engage in self-care practices. These practices are essential in our work. We all have good days and bad days, which impact our energy and esteem, and most certainly affect what we offer to our clients. We are no good to others if we’re not caring for ourselves.

Nadine Doyle


This was my first time attending Cannexus and I will definitely be going back! As an independent career coach and advocate for career development, I decided to attend Cannexus to learn more about the work being done in our industry, and to connect with other like-minded and passionate people in the field of career development. From the many presentations I attended, I walked away feeling both inspired and driven. The inspiration came from witnessing the dedication, research, and ideas that our colleagues are contributing to career development. My intense drive and motivation is sparked by the idea that we still have so far to go. My particular dedication lies within career development for youth and improving our approach to this in the education system. This is one of the areas, in my opinion, that needs advocacy and change the most.

With Cannexus, as with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. The opportunities there are endless … when you go out and find them! This often involves (as it did for me) stepping outside of your comfort zone, starting conversations and networking with those who intrigue you, and aligning yourself with people who share your mission and vision. I found many of these people at Cannexus and am thrilled to continue getting to know them better. What I learned most is about the power of positivity, and how our community, through strength in numbers and collaboration, is achieving incredible results. Together, with a common goal of creating lasting positive transformation in our industry, we will be world leaders in career development!

Shellie Deloyer


Mark Franklin, Shellie Deloyer and Maureen McCann at the General Meeting for the Canadian Council for Career Development (3CD)

My favorite part of Cannexus is connecting with other career practitioners and learning directly from them. Whether it’s an important book, a selling technique, or a client story, I always walk away from the conference energized with new avenues to research. Without these inspiring professionals the ride just wouldn’t be the same!

Jean-Philippe (JP) Michel


Gayle Draper, Wayne Pagani, Sarah-Jane VandenBerg, Maureen McCann, Sharon Graham, and JP Michel posing for a picture after Wayne Pagani’s workshop.

Let’s continue the conversation. How did you benefit from attending Cannexus?


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