College of the Rockies launches free virtual program aimed to empower women

By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative  Reporter

There is no power like girl power, as women are the future. The College of the Rockies (COTR) has plenty on the horizon with the launching of their free program HERizons. It’s aimed to empower women by providing ways to aid them in career advancement. In partnership with Seneca College, HERizons has received funding from Government of Canada’s adult learning, literacy and essential skills – women’s employment readiness pilot program.

“Earlier this year, Seneca College was successful in receiving $2 million of federal grant funding to support the project,” said Morgan Gauthier, manager, COTR, Creston Campus. “College of the Rockies was listed as a partner on this grant and will receive a portion of these funds to deliver the program both in the Kootenays and throughout British Columbia (B.C.).”

The announcement of HERizons, which is accessible to all people who identify as women across B.C., came in mid-October, followed by a virtual summit, HELIX Rise, on November 17. It focused on financial wellbeing and personal branding for women. More than 250 participants from eight different countries participated. Regular programming for HERizons will begin in January, 2023 and run until November 2023. 

“This will include online weekly workshops, immersive VR simulation learning sessions, career development and networking events,” said Gauthier. “Non-credit, cohort-based training in math and English upgrading will also be available in January 2023.” 

HERizons was pitched by Seneca College to the COTR which is on the unceded territories of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa Peoples and the land chosen as home by the Métis Peoples of B.C., in early 2021. 

“Seneca was seeking national partners to deliver a women-focused career program,” said Gauthier. “The COTR has a long history of providing employment-based training in the Kootenays and this partnership opportunity was a great match. THE COTR is committed to providing educational resources which aid economic recovery after COVID; the HERizons program aligns with this commitment, as it is a free resource for women who are looking to enter or re-enter the workforce, change careers, or start their own business.”

A report from the women entrepreneurship knowledge hub shows that women have an immense economic impact, and contribute over $150 billion dollars to the Canadian economy, yet remain underrepresented throughout many aspects of the workforce and are consistently up against barriers and obstacles when it comes to the advancing of their careers.

 “The pandemic also disproportionally affected many women’s ability to remain in the workforce,” said Gauthier. “The HERizons program aims to provide women with the necessary resources to kickstart their careers and advocate for a more inclusive, diverse, and innovative Canadian workforce. The workshops will explore topics such as inter- and intra-personal skills, financial literacy, leadership, entrepreneurship, and so much more.”

Registration for sessions will remain open until then end of the program and those that are interested are encouraged to visit: For the women that do decide to partake in the HERizons program, Gauthier shares more than anything, she hopes they all walk away with more confidence.

“Not only does the HERizons program seek to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce, it also aims to create connection and community between women,” said Gauthier. “This program is designed to empower women. Whether you are a woman looking to return to the workforce after a period of childcare commitments, seeking a promotion within your organization, or a new business owner, HERizons will support those next steps in your career.”