St. Paddy’s Celebration: 5 years of SmartConnections

On a windy St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, CRIEC held its very first SmartConnections for internationally trained professionals. More than 40 newcomer lawyers gathered at the University of Calgary Law School for a half-day celebration of exploring career paths for lawyers.

Little did we realize this session would become a template for working with all manner of professionals including those in engineering, accounting, the non-profit sector and more recently the bio-tech sector with our partner BioTalent Canada.

We had this idea that if we could “smartly connect” all relevant stakeholders with our newcomer lawyers (in this case), we might provide our folks with a snapshot of the road ahead—both challenges and opportunities.

We were graced with the fantastic energy of Priscilla Bunke, whose story and words of wisdom “shook the foundations” and spoke to every one of us in the room. We turned to each other and thought – this day may be about information and education but it really was about inspiration.

We have since rolled out an ever-evolving set of SmartConnections sessions to smartly connect hundreds of newcomer professionals to all the stakeholders they will need to speak with, deal with and be inspired by in the course of their career journey.

Many thanks to Vance Langford, Francine Swanson Q.C., Jordan Deering, Dale Skinner, Marie-France Varin, Corinne Prince-St-Amand, Karen Jenkins, Grisel Flores, MC Donna Phillips, the team at U of C Law led by Dean Holloway, Fernando Cala, Patricia Couture, Cori Ghitter, Jocelyn Frazer, Laurel Madro, CRIEC board members, Flora Stevenson, Blake Fleming, champions from United Way and CIC, amongst others.

A tip of the hat this St. Patrick’s Day to one and all. As my Irish roots (Doran, Preston, Willson et al) would say on a day like today, “Sláinte mhaith!” (Good health to you all.)

—Bruce Randall

Contact us at if you wish to learn more about how SmartConnections can help you as a newcomer professional, a Calgary professional, an employer, a professional association/regulatory body, post-secondary institution or immigrant service provider.

Stay connected

Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on upcoming events, mentor and mentee highlights, community connections and much more.