For the first time, HR professionals in the Yukon can become full members of a provincial HR association.
The Yukon formally became the eighth membership region of the Vancouver-based British Columbia Human Resources Management Association (BC HRMA) as of Jan. 1, and it is the first one located outside the province.
About 75 Certified Human Resources Professionals (CHRPs) and HR specialists in the Yukon joined the association as full members at the beginning of 2013, said Lee Vincent, assistant vice-president of human resources at Northwestel in Whitehorse.
“We came together just over a year ago to talk about the idea of creating some kind of professional organization, really driven by the desire to build a community of practice in the North and be able to share resources,” she said.
After contemplating the formation of a standalone association, the group determined the required infrastructure would be too cumbersome and decided to partner with BC HRMA, said Vincent.
Prior to Jan. 1, many of these Yukon-based HR professionals were participating in some BC HRMA activities as extra-provincial members. But they didn’t have access to the entire suite of benefits and programs available to full members, such as full voting rights and eligibility to sit on the board of directors, said Christian Codrington, senior manager of operations at BC HRMA.
(While the association’s name is BC HRMA, it has been gradually dropping the “BC” from its name as part of a broader marketing initiative and an official removal will happen later this year, he said.)
The biggest benefit of being a full member of the association is access to learning and development opportunities, said Vincent.
“The North is a very small community and things cost a lot in terms of training and development… so we wanted to find ways to share the investments we were collectively making to make the best of it for everybody.”
Advisory council formed
The majority of Yukon professionals have to travel out of province for development opportunities, which is very expensive, said Vincent. But now, as members of BC HRMA, a Yukon Advisory Council has been created to plan and implement these opportunities in the region, said Codrington.
“(The council offers) a bit more interaction around identifying HR needs and working with us to fashion programs that can meet their geographic and occupational challenges up there as well,” he said. “You want to take the programs and services offered by the provincial office and promote and tailor them in a way that fits the local, regional market.”
Local development opportunities are also a great way to build a network of peers, said Vincent. While more seasoned Yukon-based HR professionals already have an ad hoc network where they can pick up the phone and ask their peers questions, the younger generation has been missing out on that, she said.
“We really wanted, more than anything, to create a place where young and growing HR professionals could go as well… it’s for all the folks that we’re trying to build the profession with and build their expertise, enabling them to create a network and a place to learn.”
And BC HRMA’s mentorship program is also now available to Yukon members as part of their full membership, said Codrington.
The advisory council — chaired by Vincent — is made up of 10 HR professionals. They cover a range of roles and responsibilities including liaison to post-secondary institutions, membership, volunteers, CHRPs, as well as marketing and communications, said Codrington.
“They’re sort of responsible for telling the membership what’s out there and feeding back to us what the membership is wanting to talk about.”
There is also an individual responsible for the awards portfolio because, as full members, Yukon professionals are eligible for the association’s annual Awards of Excellence. And the council already has one or two people in mind it would like to nominate, said Vincent.
The advisory council is also responsible for building the value of the HR profession in the Yukon, she said.
“We’ll be doing a lot of education around that, not necessarily for HR people but for business people in general. We’ll be looking to get out in the community and help people understand generalized people practices, legislation, how you drive value to an organization through people,” said Vincent.
The first BC HRMA event in the Yukon is scheduled for Feb. 20 in Whitehorse. The kickoff event will include a welcome party followed by a roundtable discussion on the role of HR in business and a networking event, said Vincent.
The Yukon membership region is hoping to increase its numbers to 100 by the end of 2013, 150 by 2014 and 200 by 2015, she said.
“It’s about northern professionals starting to stand up as northern professionals,” said Vincent. “People are members of (HR associations in) Ontario, Alberta, B.C. — wherever you came from is where you affiliated with so you didn’t necessarily have professional roots in the community you existed in, so this is about starting to create professional roots in the North.”
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