CODE Conference Report: Film Training Manitoba and MB Construction Sector Council Take Centre Stage at Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Event

Panellists of the Supporting Women and Underrepresented workers session

May 3, 2024 – FiIm Training Manitoba (FTM) and the Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC) recently partnered with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to deliver a one-hour in-depth panel on Supporting Women and Underrepresented Workers at this year’s Commitment to Opportunity Diversity & Equity (CODE) Conference held on May 1, 2024.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce’s Sanjana Vijayann, Director of Diversity and Inclusion introducing the opening panel

The annual CODE Conference was held at the RBC Convention Centre and was an immersive event designed to empower businesses with tools and insights. Featuring a captivating keynote presentation and six interactive sessions led by industry experts, participants delved into essential Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) topics that drive success. 

Participants learned how to navigate complex challenges, leverage best practices to not only adapt but thrive in an evolving business landscape.

(L to R) Sanjana Vijayann, Nermine Awad, Joanne Roberts, Ellen Rutter, Sydney Sabiston & Carol Paul

As members of the Province of Manitoba’s Sector Council program, the two organizations shared the details of the recent Manitoba EmpowHer Program, which supported the development of women workers through mentorships and customized industry training. The panel session had 97 conference attendees from a wide gamut of industries and businesses.

Panelists of this session included MCSC’s Executive Director Carol Paul, and Content Marketing and Creative Designer Nermine Awad, as well as film veteran and vice-chair of FTM Ellen Rutter from Bonus Productions, and filmmaker and reporter Joanne Roberts from CityTV. The session was moderated by FTM’s Training and Partnerships Manager, Sydney Sabiston.

During this opening session at the conference, the panellists spoke about the effectiveness of mentorships for trades-related women workers. Ellen Rutter shared, “We have to change the mindset and that’s why I’m involved in mentorships. That’s why EmpowHer and Canada’s Supporting Women in Film Trades are effective. We need mentorships to bring people into workplaces in the form of underrepresented workers to support people in believing in themselves. This helps move people forward in jobs and careers.”

Ellen Rutter and Joanne Roberts

MCSC’s track record of building programming for women workers has garnered recognition and universal praise in Manitoba. Carol Paul spoke about the need for programming to support women workers building confidence to become more effective in jobs, “Others often will see the gifts in you before you see the gifts in yourself.”

These views were also advocated by Nermine Awad when she stated, “Mentorships are helpful to connect women to others within industry and this only serves to improve people’s skills.”  

Carol Paul and Nermine Awad

Both Paul and Awad’s work on the Manitoba EmpowHer program exposed a wide collection of women to new opportunities in construction which included individual mentorships for the participants. Over the past number of years, MCSC also broke new ground in Manitoba by creating the Women in Trades Conference. This event was the inspiration for Canada’s Supporting Women in Film Trades (SWIFT) Conference created by Film Training Manitoba. The two organizations jointly serve on planning committees and share in-depth business intelligence with these conferences.

Joanne Roberts

Winnipeg-based filmmaker and reporter Joanne Roberts also shared the importance of equality in workplaces and cautioned about tokenism, “You want to be there because of your skillset.”  She added, “Equality helps to make an impact on others’ lives and the community that is created. It makes an impact on everyone’s lives.”

Conference attendees

This panel session also examined the power of allyship and inclusion and the panelists spoke on how workforce and economic benefits come from authentic engagement with underrepresented groups.  

An RBC staff member in attendance at the CODE Conference

FTM’s Sydney Sabiston said, “With both EmpowHer and Canada’s SWIFT conference, FTM has seen a growth of women taking on new learning and skills development for film.” She added, “There is no doubt that these programs are making positive changes within the film industry by providing new and innovative skills development.”

FTM’s Sydney Sabiston

FTM is a non-for-profit charity and member of the Province of Manitoba’s Sector Council program funded through the Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources. FTM builds a highly skilled and adaptable film industry workforce to support the activities of Manitoba production companies. FTM collaborates and partners with members of the film industry to identify training needs to support workforce development.