NSGEU member chosen for inaugural Dr. Alan Middleton Workplace Literacy and Learning Award.
Halifax (6 Oct. 2010) - Kevin Landry grew up on a farm in Lower South River, Antigonish County. Like a lot of rural teens he sacrificed his education to help out with his family's finances, taking a job with the Nova Scotia department of transportation.
“To be a snow plow driver, you just need your grade 8 if you have some experience,” says Landry, a member of Local 1 of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE). “For a lot of people, especially if they don’t have a lot, it’s tempting to go for that money.”
After almost 30 years with the department, Landry realized his lack of education was having a serious impact on his career. So he went back to school and in 2000 earned his general educational development (GED) diploma.
"If I hadn’t done that, I’d probably still be driving a snow plow or salt truck,” says Landry, who has now been promoted within the department.
However, that was only the beginning of Landry’s involvement with adult education. A health nurse who worked within the department suspected that much of the information given to workers was not being read and suggested some sort of education program was needed.
Through his work with the education committee of his union local at the time, Landry got involved, realizing that this was an opportunity to help co-workers. Educational workshops were started in his local area and they spread across the province.
“Now, I’ll run into people I’ve never met who say, ‘You’re the guy who started the education program. It really helped me.’”
What’s the secret to his success?
“You can’t push anything down anybody’s throat,” he says. “You can promote what you’re doing but you have to let people come to you."
Landry’s approach has been so successful that he was recently awarded the inaugural Dr. Alan Middleton Workplace Literacy and Learning Award by ABC Life Literacy Canada during a ceremony at the CN Tower in Toronto.
“A lot of people deserve this award along with me,” says Landry. “The real reward is that we’ve all helped so many people.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE