“An invaluable platform for networking, learning and professional growth,” and a “warm and inclusive community of professionals,” were just a few of the ways that the 1,900 attendees described the latest edition of Cannexus, Canada’s Career Development Conference. Cannexus saw career development professionals from throughout this country and across the globe come together from Jan. 29-31, 2024, both virtually and in Ottawa. Calling the conference “soul-nourishing” as well as “thought-provoking,” delegates explored innovations in career and workforce development while exchanging ideas with peers – all to empower people and communities to achieve economic and social well-being. 


Among the many highlights from CERIC’s Cannexus24 conference were four remarkable keynotes: Hamza Khan deciphering the future of work; Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc telling her story of resilience; Dr. Nancy Arthur delving into the trends and turbulence facing career development; and Dr. Sean Lessard sharing his work alongside First Nations’ youth. Across 100+ education sessions, delegates examined a range of current and emerging issues with strong interest in sessions focused on artificial intelligence, neurodiversity, Indigenous learners, funding of employment services, intergenerational workplaces and mental health. 

The conference also acted as a launch pad for several new CERIC resources, being released as the national charity behind Cannexus celebrates its 20th anniversary: 

  • For the first time ever, Hidden Sector, Hidden Talent: Mapping Canada’s Career Development Sector reveals the full scope of the people and systems providing career services and supports to Canadians. This groundbreaking study provides the evidence base needed to unlock the potential of Canadian career service professionals.  
  • The latest report from the Career Development in 2040 research project identifies how the career development sector, advocacy organizations and policymakers need to prepare for 2040 and beyond. Using a strategic foresight methodology, the project creates greater understanding of the range of possible futures we might expect.  
  • Practice Principles, a follow-up to Career Theories and Models at Work, provides theory-informed principles for everyday application by career practitioners. It serves as a “go-to” guide, offering core principles for effective career interventions. Delegates at the in-person conference, each received a copy, thanks to our Knowledge Champions. 
  • A new teaching toolkit helps elementary educators understand how their teaching practices develop foundational career-related skills. Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4–6 recognizes that career development starts early, encouraging children to explore their interests, strengths and dreams. 
  • A research-driven publication recommends strategies to help refugees – especially those with lower levels of education – to integrate into society and the working world. Supporting the Integration of Refugees with Little Formal Education: An Intercultural Approach is currently available in French and an English version will be available this spring.  

Another notable moment of the conference was Trina Maher being honoured with the Wileman Award for Outstanding Achievement in Career Development. An Indigenous career development leader, Maher is a member of Mattagami First Nation, and the President and Chief Creative Spirit of Bridging Concepts, an Indigenous human resources consultancy with the vision to see “Indigenous peoples enjoy meaningful careers in Canadian workplaces.” Maher was recognized for her commitment to building bridges with communities, fostering inclusive workplaces, and developing strategies for hiring and retaining talent, which have left an indelible mark on the landscape of career development in Canada.   

For a second Cannexus in a row, career development leaders from across Canada met in Ottawa in advance of the conference to further collaborate on a National Advocacy Campaign for Career Development. The impetus for the campaign is that while career development is critical to shaping employment, work, education and labour markets across Canada, policymakers, employers and Canadians continue to know very little about the sector. Sector leaders generated different campaign ideas that would enable us to Increase the knowledge that career development is essential to getting beyond decent work.  

Other aspects of the conference focused on making connections, with Cannexus24 offering an in-person first-timer’s session and exhibitor showcase as well as virtual roundtables and meetups. The powerful Blanket exercise also returned to Ottawa and offered the chance to explore the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. 

In the post-conference survey, 89.6% of delegates rated the experience as good to excellent and 94.7% indicated they plan to incorporate what they learned into their work. Overall, delegates referenced the knowledgeable presenters, feeling better equipped to navigate the rapidly changing world of work, and the energy that comes from interacting with passionate like-minded colleagues. On the virtual side, there was feedback around technical difficulties and the desire for a more user-friendly platform but an appreciation that a virtual option makes Cannexus accessible to a wider audience. 

Whether you are new to the field or have decades of experience under your belt, Cannexus is the place to keep your knowledge up to date, feel the excitement of sharing new ideas, and make connections that will last a lifetime. You will always leave this conference with new energy and lots of plans to implement. “- Blessie Mathew, Director, Career Centre and Experiential Learning, University of Alberta, AB | In-person attendee

“A great learning experience, very informative and inspiring, that helped me analyze the past, visualize the future and gave me some tools to work in the present and be part of the change. What an exciting journey! “- Monica Garcia, Case Manager in the Gateway to Tourism & Hospitality for Newcomers program, ISSofBC, BC | Virtual attendee

“Cannexus24 was a life-giving experience for me! As someone who is the only person doing this work, it was great to connect with professionals across the country and share our passion – career development! No matter what role we found ourselves in, we had something in common – a desire to support individuals in experiencing success and moving towards a preferred future.” – Kirby Krause, Career Development and Life Exploration Program Coordinator, Hanover School Division, MB | In-person attendee

“Cannexus24 provided a holistic approach to career development, empowering attendees to navigate change with confidence and inclusivity. It was an enlightening experience that left me inspired and equipped to thrive in the ever-changing landscape of work.” – Jennifer Kollmar, Career Resource Specialist, triOS College, ON | Virtual attendee

Cannexus24 was presented by CERIC and supported by The Counselling Foundation of Canada with a broad network of 40 supporting organizations and valued partners. Mark your calendars for the Cannexus25 conference to be held Jan. 27-29, 2025. The Call for Presenters will be released this spring. Meanwhile, all Cannexus24 delegates have access to the conference recordings for three months.