TIAC Tourism Congress takes off with powerful, inspirational keynote 

Jennifer Ménard-Shand, a member of the Ojibwe First Nations and French-Canadian entrepreneur, moved delegates at the TIAC Tourism Congress to tears and cheers with her inspirational and true story of the challenges and opportunities that brought her to her present role as Founder and CEO of Staff Shop, an award-winning staffing firm, reports Press Today’s Debra Ward, who’s attending the event in Ottawa.

Surviving a troubled childhood, Ménard-Shand used her experiences to inform her purpose-driven staffing organization, investing in workers who traditionally have challenges adapting to corporate culture, such as Indigenous peoples, workers under 25 years-old or persons with disabilities.

Addressing hundreds of tourism entrepreneurs from across Canada who are in Ottawa attending the TIAC Tourism Congress, Ménard-Shand shared many of her successful business practices and philosophies that can be adapted to the challenging environment of tourism business recruitment and retention.

One of her key “attention and retention hacks” is to ensure that workers’ and employers’ values are aligned. “You need to match people to jobs that feed their core values and ensure that people are passionate and working towards mutual goals,” she explained.

She also encouraged delegates to lean into the nature of tourism employment, like its seasonality. “There are people that are looking for seasonal or part-time work,” she said. “Tourism can give them the flexibility they want.”

Her most powerful message focused on the challenges still faced by Indigenous people in the workforce and the work that still needs to be done on reconciliation to attract and retain Indigenous talent, starting with fundamental issues that include poverty, education and water quality on reserves.

“Many Indigenous people in the workforce are dealing with corporate culture-shock. It affects their ability to move forward,” Ménard-Shand said. “Many don’t make it through the probationary period.”

Tourism employers can help build a better relationship by connecting with Indigenous communities and elders, learning about non-interference culture, supporting Indigenous businesses and honouring its culture, languages and history.

Ménard-Shand ended her presentation with an emotional conclusion, a film that shared the story of her mentor Holly Fortier’s mother – a residential school survivor, and her resilience and grace as she shared her story with her family and with our collective community.