The right prescription: Credential program helps woman with dream of resuming career

Home MentorshipThe right prescription: Credential program helps woman with dream of resuming career

Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre helps Oluwakemi Akinyode with pharmacist certification

Photo credit: retrieved from original article.

Article By: Richard Hutton
Niagara This Week – Welland
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Oluwakemi Akinyode wants to be a pharmacist.

It’s not unusual for any young woman to have such a dream, but Akinyode was just that back in her native Nigeria. And it is also something she has wanted to get back to ever since she and her family immigrated to Canada in 2018. But without the proper credentials, she wasn’t able to pursue the same work in her new home.

“I had a really good job back there,” Akinyode said. “It’s very difficult to say you’re going to leave your job but I had to weigh my options – what it was I wanted to do for myself. I really wanted to come to North America.”

To fill the gap while she figured out what she could do, she took a job with a home health-care provider.

“I had been working as a PSW,” Akinyode said. “But I had to take a break.”

At the same time, she had been studying for an exam that would certify her to work as a pharmacist in her adopted home.

“I’ve been trying to study. Starting over is really challenging. I’d come back from work at 8 or 9 at night and then study. I would only get a few hours of sleep.”

The challenges have included her final examination being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she said she expects that to change within the next few months.

“Some people are now doing their exams,” Akinyode said.

Akinyode’s path toward becoming a pharmacist in Canada isn’t one she has had to walk on her own. She had turned to the Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) to see what she needed to do to get her career back on track. That organization referred the Welland resident to the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre. And through the centre’s Employment Solutions wing, she was connected with Lori Webster, Co-ordinator for the centre’s Niagara Foreign Credential Recognition Program.

And all of this has come during a pandemic. It’s something Webster said has been a challenge but has not stopped her and other centre staff from doing their work.

“We do a lot of advocacy,” Webster said. “We see people coming in with valuable skills who want to be able to use them.”

The credentials program helps newcomers navigate their way to continuing their profession in Canada, assisting with foreign credential assessment and with the steps necessary to obtain the proper certification. The program also offers financial planning advice and, more importantly for those seeking certification, financial assistance.

“We have loan opportunities through Meridian Credit Union,” Webster said. “That can help people so they don’t have to save up.”

That was something Akinyode qualified for, Webster added.

But she and other staff found they need to have resources at hand to better help centre clients and that meant continuing to come into the office, despite the pandemic.

“We created our own bubbles,” Webster said. “We need the social aspect.”

Janet Madume, Executive Director for the centre, echoed Webster’s thoughts.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “We’re always concentrating on our clients. We never talk about the weight that’s on our shoulders.”

Akinyode, meanwhile, is grateful to the help that she has received along the way – she now sees there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s has been really challenging but at the end of the day, I feel good. And what I’m looking forward to is what’s going to happen in a few months’ time.”

For more information on the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre and the services it offers, visit

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: How has the pandemic impacted the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre and its work with newcomers? Reporter Richard Hutton wanted to find out and spoke with staff and a client of the centre.

Richard Hutton is a Reporter-Photographer for Niagara this Week, covering everything from politics to community stories and everything in between in Niagara’s southern tier.

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