2016 Highlights at a Glance

Welcome to the Skills Society newsletter

The newsletter aims to summarize the highlights from a few of our key projects and collaborations! In each newsletter we interview someone connected with Skills about what one of our core values means in action. In this newsletter we explored our core value of Safeguarding Healthy Relationships.


Core Value: Safeguarding Healthy Relationships

Social and material vulnerability are features of daily life for people with disabilities. Skills Society works to build positive and powerful relationships both inside and outside the organization to strengthen personal and political safety nets for the individuals we support and for the broader disability community.

Featured Interview with Sandi Pesklevis

Senior Leader of Quality Assurance and Provincial Standards 

Sandi's Quote

Sandi was fresh out of college with a certification of Rehabilitation Services Program before crossing path at Skills Society. Sandi started with Skills in 1990. Her career began as a Team Leader and continued in that role and as Emergency Relief until 2001 where she then accepted a position of Manager of Community Supports. By 2012, Sandi settled into her current role as the Senior Leader of Quality Assurance and Provincial Standards.

What does Safeguarding Healthy Relationships mean to you?

Creating an organizational culture which focuses on building healthy relationships and supports the emotional, psychological, and physical safety needed in order to support the complex work that we do on a daily basis.

Healthy relationships must involve and include all the stakeholders (Individuals receiving service, guardians, funders, agencies in our sector, government allies, community health and emergency resources, social justice advocates etc).

Why and how is it important we practice this core value?

  • Treating all stakeholders with dignity and respect
  • Supporting and engaging in collaborative practice, conversation and participation with all stakeholders
  • Partnering with other agencies in our sector to learn from each other, sharing of existing resources and processes working as a collective vs. independently

Developing healthy relationships with stakeholders demonstrates our commitment that everyone deserves dignity and respect. It further demonstrates our willingness to learn from each other, fail safely together and collaborate to form new ideas, innovation and best practice across the sector.

How does this core value relate to supporting people with disabilities?

  • Everyone, despite their disability, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • All stakeholders have a role and voice in the service Skills provides.
  • Recognizing that the work we do is very complex and leaning on the learnings from other service providers and experts in our sector is absolutely key to creating quality services.

What are your experiences surrounding this core value, any challenges or takeaways? 

We are constantly challenged in our sector for increased funding, access to resources, and applicable training. Many individuals new to service have very complex needs and due to a lack of support, resources and training for employees managing risk and ensuring safety is one of our top priorities.

As an organization we have responded to challenges we face in maintaining fidelity to our core values, creating strong relationships with our allies in government and in community, support each other by becoming one collective voice, challenging our government by advocating for those we support, etc.

How can we work towards achieving this value beyond our work at Skills?

I think that the core values we believe in here at Skills are values that transcend into our personal lives as well. Supporting individuals to nurture healthy relationships and create meaningful lives embedded within their communities is, I believe, a core fundamental we all want in our lives. Being treated with dignity and respect and recognized for our contributions and individuality is what we strive for both in our personal and professional lives.

Skill's Core Values


Project Highlights



Click HERE to view the full article

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Left to Right: Professor Kathleen Lowrey, Brianna Moore, Brittany Visneskie, Alanna Bauman, Nam Phan; not pictured: Serena Bayford

What’s the Scoop? In February and March of 2016, six University of Alberta students met in focus groups with Skills Society employees to learn about their work. The U of A students were enrolled in a course called the Anthropology of Disability and had chosen the Community Service-Learning (CSL) option for the course.

Accomplishments: In April, the students combined their knowledge from the course readings and reflected what they learned from talking with Skills employees to create a presentation. This presentation was showcased to their 42 fellow classmates who had decided to do the coursework-only version of the class.

Goals: The objectives of the collaboration were for the students to have an opportunity to discuss the theories they have been reading about with people who have experiences related to their work.




Click HERE to view the Contest Rules

“These amazing drummers that have become my friends make me feel like an important part of the drumming community. I love to see my friends and creating music together.” -Daniel Hughes

What’s the Scoop? Daniel Hughes won a photo contest that ran between March 7 -March 25, 2016. Daniel’s photo showcased what he felt was the best representation of Skills core value of “Engaged Citizenship”.

Accomplishments: Daniel won a prize of a $100 gift card! Using photography as an expression of these core values is another form that we can communicate ourselves to others.

Goals: The purpose of this contest is to raise awareness regarding the organization’s core values using art as a representation.



Click HERE to view the 2016 Executive Report


What’s the Scoop? Written by Patricia Conrad, she reflects upon theIMG_20160318_114312~2 changes Skills Society’s has undergone to navigate the changes in their physical space, the influence of the new political party and the diverse collaborations Skills Society has achieved in the past year.

Accomplishments: In 2016, Skills Society had officially launched the Action Lab, the continued event of Skills Society Annual Day of Giving, and the creative collaboration with ABSI Connect, UofA’s Anthropology CSL group, and SACLA.

Goals: To share and update people on a few highlights of 2016 of Skill Society.




Click HERE to view the full page


Shift_Lab_Logo_ColorWhat’s the Scoop? The Edmonton Shift Lab launched this summer. Skills Society partnered with the Edmonton Community Foundation to develop a space to tackle the intersections of racism and poverty.

Accomplishments: This Edmonton Shift Lab is one of the major social innovation labs coming of Skills Society’s Action Lab.

Goals: Convene a diverse collective to work with community to prototype interventions that impact systemic racism in the Edmonton Area.





Click HERE to view the Infographic


What the heck is social innovation info graphicWhat’s the Scoop? In the summer, our intern Rhea Kachroo, our Social Innovation Researcher investigated the patterns of social innovation.

Accomplishments: Rhea pulled together infographic from interviews based on social innovations and Skill Society leaders to explain the meaning of social innovation.

Goals: To use these infographics to spread the meaning of social innovation and shows ways to help grow and understand social innovation within Skills Society and future initiatives.

Impact: share-collaborate-teach


Stories from the Field

Click HERE to view the full story

Two wonderful volunteers, Paige and Kristin had the opportunity to sit down with Alice and Lisa to talk about citizenship, relationships and disabilities. Our Citizens Explorers interview is featured on the CitizenSpeak category of the Project Citizenship website. To read the full story of the mother-daughter duo click on the link above!


Click HERE to view the full story


Tyler has been featured on Skills many times before. This time we tell the story of Tyler’s first concert experiences in Calgary with his friend Juanita. Thanks to Juanita, we were able to share the story and photos of Tyler’s trip! To read Tyler’s rocking adventure at MacEwan Hall click on the link above!


Click HERE for view the full story


We recapped with Rhea of her experiences as our Social Innovation Action Researcher. Rhea accomplished many things this past summer.  We are proud of Rhea’s impact she had at Skills. Rhea researched, collected patterns of social innovation, facilitated activities at the launch of the Action Lab, and created a tool kit for future social innovators and initiatives! Check out Rhea’s full interview by clicking on the link above!


Click HERE to view more stories from Citizen Speak


Stories such as Alice and Lisa are one of the many stories we feature on Citizen Speak. Dive into our collection of photos and thoughts from people who care about engaged citizenship by clicking on the link above!

To get involved please email arlene3@ualberta.ca 


Call to action



Click HERE to learn more about our Call to Action

Call to Action is a current project we are working on that came from a workshop right from the Action Lab. We want to continue to explore Skills Society’s core value would look like in action! If you are interested in learning more about our Call to Action project click on the link above!


Do you have an interesting story that you would like to share with the Skills community? We are always looking for unique stories, photos and other content that represents Skills Society’s core values and the organization as a whole.

To get involved please email info@skillssociety.ca.


“One of the deep secrets of life is that all that is really worth the doing is what we do for others.”

-Lewis Carroll 


Arlene Lam