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Francisca OmorodionSociology professor Francisca Omorodion is running a research project to combat high unemployment rates for African, Caribbean, and Black men in Windsor and Essex County.

Project aims to improve employability of local African, Caribbean, and Black men

The staggeringly high unemployment rate for a segment of the local population has spurred a UWindsor sociology professor into action.

Francisca Omorodion has launched a project to improve the employability of African, Caribbean, and Black men (ACB men) in Windsor and Essex County. In conjunction with colleagues and local community groups, the project will involve monthly workshops to build the men’s basic computer knowledge and job-hunting skills. There will also be training on how to start your own business, and outreach to local employers to raise awareness of the systemic barriers ACB men face in getting jobs.

“It is clear these men need help to penetrate the labour market,” said Dr. Omorodion. “We want to share our research and professional knowledge to enhance the employability and labour force participation of ACB men in Windsor and Essex County and beyond.”

In 2020, the average unemployment rate in Ontario was 9.6 per cent. For African, Caribbean, and Black men in Windsor and Essex County, it was 23.7 per cent— about 2 ½ times the provincial average.

There is also very little research into how to address this demographic’s problems with unemployment.

Omorodion is working with UWindsor education professors Andrew Allen and Clinton Beckford on the project. Dr. Beckford, UWindsor’s acting vice-president, equity, diversity, and inclusion, will mentor ACB men.

“He will show them the importance of resilience and professionalism in being successful,” Omorodion said.

The project will feature workshops on conducting a job search, putting together a job application package, and preparing for interviews, as well as a session for employers and employment agencies on how they can make workplaces more diverse and inclusive for ACB men.

The sessions will be put on in collaboration with community groups that serve the ACB population locally: Place du Partage, the Youth Connection Association, and the Hour-A-Day Study Club, with monthly workshops running until September 2022.

Philippine Ishak, senior manager at Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women and president of the Nigerian Canadian Organization Windsor, will co-ordinate the computer training sessions.

UWindsor business professor Francine Schlosser, an expert in entrepreneurship, will be the guest speaker at a workshop aimed at assisting ACB men to start their own businesses.

Omorodion said she hopes about 250 men will participate.

The project will include public forums organized by Egbe Etowa, a post-doctoral fellow working with Omorodion.

Omorodion has won a grant of nearly $50,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Connection grant program.

“The goal of the Connection program is to realize the potential of social sciences and humanities research for intellectual, cultural, social, and economic influence, and benefit and impact on and beyond the campus, by supporting specific activities and tools that facilitate the flow and exchange of research knowledge,” SSHRC says.

Omorodion said that at the end of the project, she will publish her findings in academic journals to “address the gap in the Canadian literature concerning the employment barriers and success of ACB men.”

—Sarah Sacheli

historian Irene Moore Davis before cameraA film crew records historian Irene Moore Davis as part of a project documenting stories of Sandwich.

Films to document history of Sandwich

Lights, camera, action! A series of three short documentaries began filming in Leddy Library this semester to capture the history of Sandwich Town.

Following the success of the 2020 film The North was our Canaan, the Leddy Library’s Centre for Digital Scholarship in partnership with the Essex County Black Historical Research Society launched a new project, Across the River to Freedom: Early Black History in Sandwich Ontario, to share chapters of Sandwich Town’s history.

Directed by Anushray Singh (MFA 2020) and produced by local historian Irene Moore Davis and Leddy librarian Heidi Jacobs, these documentaries will continue the story and share more voices of descendants residing in historic Sandwich.

The project, designed to preserve the history and spark larger community interests in learning and understanding the Black history embedded within the streets of Sandwich, was one of eight to receive the Gordie Howe International Bridge Community Organization Investment Grant to better communities closest to the construction of the new bridge.

“At present, much of the information about Sandwich history available online is cursory and often not based upon the most current research,” said Dr. Jacobs. “Across the River to Freedom will be meticulously researched and documented and will be designed to be both accessible and scholarly.”

The Centre for Digital Scholarship is also partnering with students from the Master of Museum Studies program in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information and its Exhibition Project course to build a companion website to complement the documentaries. This website will feature resources for teachers, a walking tour with audio podcasts, a digitized photo gallery and archive, and research essays.

“We are fortunate to be working with an incredible team of researchers, film makers and experts on this project,” said Jacobs. “Our team at Leddy Library is generously sharing access to expertise, equipment, staff, and technology to help support, preserve, and share the important historical research done by the Essex County Black Historical Research Society.”

The film crew and researchers are working closely with colleagues in the Leddy Library Archives and Special Collections to build a digital archive of historic ephemera related to Sandwich history.

“By bringing this history to life through meticulously researched films, contextual essays, and mapping, we are encouraging residents in Windsor and Detroit to come visit Sandwich, either in person or virtually,” said Jacobs.

The team expects to launch the film in June 2022.

Flexible Work Arrangements programThe University has established a task force to develop a program of Flexible Work Arrangements for non-academic staff.

Task force to develop program of flexible work arrangements

As part of the preparations for the full return to campus, the University has established a task force to develop a Flexible Work Arrangements program for non-academic staff in areas or units where such arrangements may be operationally feasible.

Flexible work arrangements can support the mental health and well-being of employees, improving how work gets done, the services students receive, and how teams collaborate. Adopting new ways of working can also enhance job satisfaction and encourage engagement and innovation.

The task force will lead a collaborative and consultative process to design a program intended to foster a flexible work culture in support of staff well-being, says its chair Marcela Ciampa, director of organizational development and training. The program will introduce flexible work options that best support the University’s mission to eligible non-academic staff while still delivering exceptional services.

Ciampa encourages the campus community to visit the Flexible Works Arrangements website for more information and regular updates. Direct questions and comments to flexiblework@uwindsor.ca.

students in Incubator labThe Bioart course explores the intersections between art and the life sciences. Photo by Domenica Mediati.

Course operating at intersection of art and science

Students in the class “Bioart: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences” will explore the ethical debates, issues of access and accountability, and overspecialization that arise from contemporary biotechnologies and bioart practices. The course is now seeking enrolment from students in all disciplines for the winter semester.

A crossover lab between visual art and science, the undergraduate class fosters exploration of the intersections between art and the life sciences through hands-on laboratory protocols, critical readings, theoretical writing, and the production of artwork.

No previous experience in art or biological sciences is required. The course, VSAR - 03860, is taught in person in the SoCA Armouries building, Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. Find more details on the website of instructor Jennifer Willet.

black hoodie with University of Windsor on itSave on this black sweatshirt during the Campus Bookstore’s Black Friday sale.

Campus Bookstore offering savings on sweatshirt

The Campus Bookstore is offering a discount on a black hooded sweatshirt as its Black Friday special.

The garment is emblazoned with “University of Windsor” across the chest, boasts a kangaroo pocket, and is available in a full range of sizes. Normally retailing for $35.95, it is selling for just $22.95 from Nov. 26 to 29, in store or online.

basketballThe University of Windsor Invitational High School Basketball Tournament has been suspended until 2022.

Lancers cancel 2021 high school basketball tourney

For the second straight year, pandemic restrictions have forced the cancellation of the University of Windsor Invitational High School Basketball Tournament.

The organizing committee has announced plans for 2022: an expanded field of 16 teams from across the province gathering in the Lancer Centre Dec. 9 to 11.

Men’s basketball head coach Chris Cheng promises the grand new venue will make for a spectacular return.

“We will make up for the loss from the past two years by organizing a great event for all participants and spectators,” he says.

Read more at goLancers.ca.