The challenges and successes of the inclusive mentorship initiative

By Heather Ancliffe


As another year ends for the Inclusive Mentorship Initiative (IMI), now seems like a perfect time to reflect on the challenges and successes from the past year. This year’s cohort involved fifteen pairs of mentors/mentees, among which were a few returning participants from previous cohorts. It was so nice to have some “seasoned” participants mixed in with the new participants to help guide them along the way!

One major success this year was the expansion of the project to include more participants than ever. In previous years, the initiative had only been open to health and social service students in the region; however, this year the program was expanded to include English-speaking adult education students studying in all fields. Students and mentors in the program now come from a wide range of professions, including health and social services and education, as well as administrative and professional scientific & technical services.

Another success was the option for students to take French-language assessments with a French teacher from the New Horizons Adult Education Centre. The purpose of these French-language evaluations is to assess the student’s level of oral French and French comprehension and then to compare the results with a follow-up evaluation performed at the end of the year. Although this evaluation process is optional, six students took advantage of the free service this year. Oral and comprehension skills were classified on a six-point scale based on a series of questions answered by the participant. Upon completion, the instructor provided each student with their score and a list of specific areas for improvement. This service is a great tool that helps the students see the progress they have made over the course of the year. Once again, this year’s French-language evaluations were done virtually.

One of the main challenges, unsurprisingly, was bringing participants together for activities while still in pandemic mode. In the fall, things got underway for the initiative with a virtual meet and greet orientation event welcoming the year’s cohort of mentees and mentors. Introductions were made and pertinent information about the program and its protocols was shared with participants. This meeting helped to set the pairs on the right path to begin their mentorship relationship and to start meeting.

Just before the holidays, in December, a speed networking event was organized; however, the Omicron variant had its own plans and, unfortunately, the in-person event had to be canceled. All was not lost though! The event was rescheduled as a virtual event early in 2022.

Despite everyone being in different places, this speed networking event offered mentees and mentors an opportunity to get to know their peers while practicing their language skills. Zoom’s Breakout rooms facilitated the chat sessions by providing private virtual rooms for pairs to chat. Every 8 minutes, new “rooms” were set up for new pairs to connect. The pairs were encouraged to talk (in French) about whatever they desired and, if they needed some inspiration, conversation starters were left in the chat box for them to use. Mentees not only got the chance to speak with multiple mentors, but with other mentees too. Mentors also had the opportunity to share tips and advice on their own mentorship success with other mentors. The event was a success!

Despite the challenges, this year’s program was successful, and we are looking forward to starting a new year of activities! In the coming year, we plan to continue growing the Inclusive Mentorship Initiative and making it more accessible to participants. We also hope to be able to offer more in-person events, while keeping the hybrid format for its convenience.

Keep an eye out on the Townshippers’ website, Facebook page, and our newsletter for Inclusive Mentorship updates. For more information about the Inclusive Mentorship Initiative, contact Heather Ancliffe at

Happy Spring!
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