Monthly Archives: August 2014

Who we are: Cassie

We have a lot of amazing individuals here at DECSA, who have so much passion for what they do. Most people who have a connection with DECSA, whether they are participants in one of our programs, or a community partner, get to know and recognize our front line staff. Today we will introduce you to someone who works a bit more behind the scenes, our in-house Graphic Designer, Cassie!

Cassie has always been interested in art and enjoys painting, so becoming a graphic designer was a natural choice for her. “Because working on a computer is the best thing  for me to do and I am good at using the computer, I thought to myself why not make a career out of it?”

Cassie decided to go to school at Reeve’s College, where she admits the program was challenging sometimes, as there was a lot to learn in a short period of time. She credits her instructor, Theron for supporting her  throughout the program. “If it wasn’t for my instructor, Theron, I don’t think I would’ve made it.”

Nowadays, Cassie spends her time creating beautiful designs here at DECSA. When asked what she likes most about her career choice, Cassie replied “I like that I can create amazing pieces and see them out in the world. Also I like people’s reactions when they look at a design.” And what does she have to say about DECSA? “I love it here.  People are so nice and I can feel that DECSA valued my work.”

Indeed we do!


A Sign

On Friday August 22nd, participants from the Transitions program went to pick sage in a nearby field. At the end of their day, they were blessed by the presence of a grandfather in next field over. What a powerful sign!


Ride Against Violence

This week, DECSA has spent three days down town at Winston Churchill, supporting an event called Ride Against Violence. This event began in 2011 as a reaction to startling violence statistics in Edmonton, now pegged as the “Murder capital of Canada.” This event’s mission is to create a safer Edmonton, especially for women and children, by showcasing community agencies that work towards a better Edmonton.

We are honoured to be a part of such an awesome event. And it’s not over yet! The event started on Wednesday August 20th and will be wrapping up today, August 22nd at 6pm! Make sure you head on down and check it out!

For more information, check out their website at:

In the meantime, here are some photos from the event. Be sure to check back next week for even more!

5 Decision-Making Patterns You Can Avoid


Whiteboard Version 2

Maybe you’re a deer in the headlights when a choice is coming your way. You’re just hoping the decision will swerve out of your way before you have to make it, because all you can do is stand there and watch it coming. Or maybe you make decisions so fast that you question them only after you see the wreckage they created.

We all have decision-making patterns. Some help us. Some hurt us. Here are 5 patterns you can learn to avoid:

  • Thunderstorm Thinker: Some of us focus too much on risks and drawbacks when making a decision. Let’s say you’re considering taking your first job as a store manager. The Thunderstorm thinker would focus on what’s bad about being a manager and what’s bad about remaining a cashier. This person would go for the decision with fewer bad aspects. A balanced decision-maker thinks through both the pros and cons of a decision.
  • The Feeler: All of us have made decisions in the thrill of the moment without considering drawbacks. A sixteen-year-old who tattoos Justin Bieber’s face on her neck is likely a Feeler. The full-time, working student who accepts a second job on the spur of the moment may also be a Feeler. A balanced decision-maker considers a decision logically as well as emotionally.
  • The Decision Disowner: Some of us deal with decisions by asking for advice from everyone around. We want others to make the decision for us because we don’t feel capable of making it ourselves. Some of us also cave to other people’s desires when we are trying to make a decision because we feel like we have to please them. A balanced decision-maker gets input from others, and considers how decisions affect others, but makes his or her own decision.
  • The Rusher: Sometimes even when we have time to make a decision, we feel like we need to hurry. The Rusher often feels pressured because others are waiting for the decision. In many circumstances, we can say, “Let me think about it,” or “I don’t know,” while we consider the options. A balanced decision-maker takes enough time to thoroughly consider the decision.
  • The Staller: Sometimes it’s easiest to avoid decisions we don’t want to make. The Staller often fears the uncertain results of a decision. Life is full of uncertainty, and receiving this uncertainty is part of being able to make decisions. Making a decision sometimes requires a leap of faith that you can meet whatever challenges you face afterward. A balanced decision-maker is willing to take the risk that making choices requires.

Keep your eye out for these patterns in your own decision-making. You can become a balanced decision-maker once you become aware of your weaknesses. Always remember, though, that you can work through the challenges of even a bad decision. Good luck in all your choices!

Adopt a Block

We’ve got our purple gloves.

We’ve got our black bags.

We’re ready to go.

Every second Friday morning, DECSA staff members and participants leave desks and classrooms behind to head out into the sunshine (or clouds, or drizzle) as part of the City of Edmonton’s Adopt a Block program. We’re dedicating our time and energy to making our neighbourhood cleaner, safer, and more beautiful by putting litter where it belongs – in the trash.

“This initiative is about caring for our community,” says Leah, who’s heading the project. “It’s a good opportunity for DECSA to give back to our community and to show pride in our neighbourhood.”

Adopt a Block also gives participants the opportunity to gain volunteer experience for their resumes. “It’s a nice chance to get outside, work together, and help out our neighbours,” says one Adopt a Block helper.

There’s nothing like garbage to bring people together!

What does inclusivity in the workplace look like to you?

Processed with Moldiv

Last week, we posted a question on social media asking “What does inclusivity in the workplace look like to you?” We received various answers from our followers on Twitter and Facebook accounts. Ray on Facebook said, ‘It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, there is a role for you and acceptance in the workplace”, while Valerie tweeted “ a spot for everyone regardless of race, shape, ability!!!” What we noticed is that the responses to our question all shared a similar theme by using words such as acceptance, unity, respect, empowering, acknowledging, and ability. According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of inclusive is: “Covering or including; open to everyone; not limited to certain people.” It certainly seems that our followers are aware of inclusivity, and know what it means to be inclusive, but the greater question is, are we actually practising what we preach?

In the province of Alberta, The Alberta Human Rights Act, which can be read here, states that “…it is recognized in Alberta as a fundamental principle and as a matter of public policy that all persons are equal in: dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation.”  Interestingly enough, however, is that the statistics provided by Employment and Social Development Canada, which can be found here seem to tell a different story. According to their website, “In 2006, the unemployment rate for Aboriginal people was 14.8%, approximately 8.5 percentage points higher than the national average of 6.3%. People with disabilities (8.6%), lone parents (8.1%), and recent immigrants (12.3%) also experienced higher than average unemployment rates.”

So why are these individuals experiencing higher unemployment rates than the average Canadians, especially since something like the Alberta Human Rights Act exists? Could it be that our hiring processes aren’t particularly inclusive? How can we make it more inclusive?

Researchers at Cornell University presented a brief at the Innovative Research on Employer Practices: Improving Employment for People with Disabilities, titled “Disability Inclusive Recruitment and Hiring Practices and Policies: Who Has Them and What Difference Does it Really Make?” Although the research was conducted by an American University, the survey questions used could easily function for Canadian employers as well. The survey asked respondents eight questions about their recruiting and hiring processes, and sought to find out information such as whether their organization actively recruited people with disabilities, if they had relationships with community organizations that promoted employing people with disabilities, and if they included people with disabilities in their diversity and inclusion plan. They discovered that the three most inclusive types of employers were larger organizations, federal contractors, and nonprofits. They also found that organizations that had practices such as internships for people with disabilities, and a strong commitment from senior management were much more likely to hire someone with a disability.

Judging by the responses we received from our followers, it appears that we know what being inclusive means, and that we also want to be inclusive. The next step is to take that want and turn it into a need. We need to be inclusive in our recruiting processes. We need to be inclusive in our hiring practices. We need to be inclusive in our workplace.

Are You Using the Steps to Good Decision-Making?


Go to school or keep working? Buy a house or rent an apartment? Move to Calgary or stay in Edmonton? Home-school the kids or send them to the local elementary? Our decisions can have a huge impact on the course of our lives and the lives of our family members. Choosing between options can be confusing and stressful. Use these steps to help you recognize and make the best decision you can:

Get all the relevant information. Make sure you know the facts before jumping into a decision. For example, if you’re considering going back to school, find out all the information that might influence your decision.

  1. Where would you go to school? Would going to school require moving locations? How long would take to get there?
  2. Does going to school make financial sense right now? Carefully calculate the costs of attending school including tuition, supplies, transportation, and living expenses.
  3. Are jobs available for people with the diploma or degree I want?
  4. How will I get childcare during this time?

Consider your goals. Ask yourself,How will this decision affect my long term and short term goals?” Some examples of goals you might have are:

  1. Financial: You want to become financially independent.
  2. Educational: You want to gain new skills.
  3. Employment-related: You want a specific job.
  4. Relational: You want more time to spend with friends or family.
  5. Altruistic: You want to help others.

Create a pros and cons list for each option. For example, if you’re choosing between attending Norquest or continuing work as a cashier at Sears, you would create a pros and cons list for each choice:

  1. Pros and Cons of going to Norquest
  2. Pros and Cons of continuing to work as a cashier at Sears

The two lists will likely overlap, but each one focuses on a different side of the decision. Your lists should include the information you gathered.

Accept uncertainty. Making choices can be very difficult because we don’t know all the results that a decision will lead to. Even if you go to Norquest and become a nurse, you may discover that you strongly dislike the job, or you may be unable to find a nursing job for a year after you graduate. We cannot control these unknown factors. We can however, accept the uncertainty in our future without letting it paralyse us from making decisions. Sometimes a clear best decision doesn’t exist.

Decide and act! Choose the option that seems best, and act on it.

Respond to the results.  Trust that you will be able to meet the challenges you face after you make a decision. Everyone makes good and bad decisions. Don’t focus on making the perfect choice. Life isn’t perfect! Focus on making a good decisions with the information you have, and be ready to get your game on as you work through the results.