CERIC’s flagship award is evolving to celebrate those who have made a significant impact in enhancing the field of career development, regardless of role or position within an organization. Now called the Etta St. John Wileman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Career Development, the changes seek to build on the award’s proud history while evolving it to become more inclusive and accessible.

This evolution of recognition at CERIC was announced by Wileman Award Selection Committee Chair Jennifer Browne during Cannexus23, Canada’s Career Development Conference in Ottawa at the end of January.

“Our goal is to celebrate what we have done with the award past and present and to chart a path to do things a bit differently moving forward,” said Browne. “We’re excited to share the future of the award and how it is continuing to progress to become more inclusive and diverse.”

For the past two years, CERIC’s Wileman Award Selection Committee has been working to adapt the award to ensure that we are able to recognize the full spectrum of professionals making a meaningful difference in career development in Canada. This included a focus group held last summer with career professionals from underrepresented communities to help review criteria for the award.

As a result of this process, the committee has:

  • expanded committee membership to include more diverse voices and better reflect all career development professionals as well as the people across Canada who they support
  • shifted the award focus from lifetime achievement to outstanding achievement and expanded the definition of leadership to be inclusive of outstanding service, community engagement and other forms of impact
  • revised the criteria to add demonstrated commitment to justice, equity, diversity & inclusion; for example, how someone has sought to understand differences to have a more equitable impact with their work as well as challenging and/or dismantling oppressive structures
Lynne Bezanson receiving the Wileman Award at Cannexus23 (January 24, 2023)

The introduction of the revamped award came on the heels of the latest award recipient Lynne Bezanson being honoured at Cannexus. Bezanson had been announced as the Wileman recipient last year but this year was able to be in-person in Ottawa to accept her award. Bezanson is the Executive Director Emeritus at the Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF). In presenting the award, Browne recognized Bezanson for her remarkable career and contributions to career development in Canada and internationally.

“From her early days as a teacher and guidance counsellor to her extraordinary work in the federal public service and non-profit sector in areas of research and development, policy consultation and capacity building, her commitment to this field, and to those it serves, knows no bounds,” said Browne.

Past recipients of the Wileman Award have also included Marilyn Van Norman, Denis Pelletier, Norman Amundson, Mildred Cahill, Bryan Heibert, Donald Lawson, Michel Turcotte and Roberta Borgen (Neault).

Browne encouraged everyone to consider who they might nominate for the award next. “In such an inclusive field as career development – one that is multi-sectoral and cross-disciplinary – help us identify the mentors, educators, advisors, advocates and role models that should be celebrated,” she said. “Like the award’s namesake Etta St. John Wileman demonstrated more than 100 years ago, career development in Canada has always been about making change for the public good.”

Etta St. John Wileman was a champion and crusader for career, work and workplace development in Canada in the early 20th century. Wileman was a strong advocate for a national system of employment offices. She also lobbied for the role of parents and schools in the career development guidance of children.

The next deadline for nominations for the Wileman Award is June 30, 2023. The award is given out on a less-than-annual basis.