How East Preston Empowerment Academy is helping marginalized adults get back on their feet – Halifax


A program to help members of the black community continue with their education and find employment is changing the lives of its participants, the school president said.

The East Preston Empowerment Academy (EPEA) began in 2014 at the East Preston Baptist Church in Nova Scotia to empower and equip members of its community with the skills, tools and confidence they need.

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A first adult basic apprenticeship program was quickly followed by the implementation of a GED program, and now the academy offers support to help participants achieve their Red Seal certification for skilled trades industries. , according to Wanda Thomas Bernard, president of EPEA.

“The main focus is in the name. The main goal is the empowerment of learners of African descent and others who have experienced a kind of marginalization from mainstream education, ”she said from her daughter’s home in Whitby, Ont. , where she was working virtually on Monday.

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A new study has been conducted by Deloitte Canada on how the EPEA provides significant economic and socio-economic benefits to Nova Scotia.

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According to Deloitte, “The cumulative economic contribution of the EPEA from 2016 to 2020 was $ 1.02 million in gross domestic product (GDP), $ 783,000 in labor income and the creation of 14 full-time jobs supported.

“The study also found that EPEA offered a range of socio-economic benefits, including the removal of barriers to education, greater integration into the labor market and support for better employment opportunities. “

The study indicated that the programs offered by EPEA have long-term beneficial impacts on the lives of participants.

Howard Benjamin participated in the program and now works as a Red Seal electrician.

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“I mean the people who were there to volunteer, I can’t say enough for that. They could have been at home with their family and they are there to help. So if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will, ”Benjamin said.

He now has an apprentice working under him who is now also involved with EPEA.

“He also wants to help and give back to the community when he’s finished,” Benjamin said of his apprentice.

The programs on offer are accessible to everyone, but Bernard said their main interest is to help marginalized groups and women.

“Marginalized groups in Canada face long-standing social and economic disparities, including wage gaps, lower labor force participation rates, and higher rates of unemployment and underemployment. Canada’s black population remains one of the most disadvantaged, ”Bernard said in a press release.

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“This study confirms what we have long believed that EPEA generates a lasting positive influence on students, local partners and the community at large. With the support of our funders, we can continue to help enrich the lives of our students, and those around them, for decades to come.

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Bernard also said that seeing the programs go virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic has been beneficial in many ways.

“We can run programs across the province,” she said in an interview. “I certainly hope people across the province will see this as an opportunity for them as a second chance to learn. “

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