Staff Profile: Lesley Gosselin featured in Child and Youth Workers' Association of Manitoba Newsletter

November 20, 2020

The beginnings of a leader must possess key elements; determination, compassion, perseverance and a vision for the future. Lesley Gosselin demonstrated these elements very early on in her work and in her studies as a child and youth care student at Red River College (RRC). Jean Robson and Karl Gompf, former instructors of the RRC Child and Youth Care (CYC) Program, easily recalled many of Lesley's CYC attributes when asked about her early years as a practicum student. 'She exemplified all that we taught and hoped for in a fine CYC practitioner. Lesley Gosselin embodies the key components of exemplary child and youth care practice: a positive attitude, relationship-focused, activity-oriented, in-the-moment, and a fine sense of humour. She was willing to learn - and always maintained a trauma-informed approach to CYC practice. Karl, reflected upon a story about Lesley, her dedication to the field was evident however she sometimes fell asleep in class! Perplexed, Karl debated with colleagues as what to do - should they wake her up? Karl replied 'no', wanting to understand the reason. He discovered Lesley was working overnights in a CFS group home- and arriving to class after her shift with little or no sleep! Clearly, she had a vision for her career and knew the importance of further education to enhance her work with at risk youth and overcame obstacles in order to achieve her educational goals and career aspirations.

Jean Robson, former academic coordinator of RRC CYC program was Lesley's faculty and practicum advisor, remembers attending Lesley's first practicum placement meeting in the boy's unit at Knowles Centre. Lesley was undaunted. This was her passion and she jumped right in to her role as practicum student, so much so, Knowles wanted to hire Lesley prior to her completing her courses! Over time, and long after Lesley's graduation from college and her smooth transition into fulltime employment at Knowles Centre continued, whenever Jean met with Lesley, she was always impressed that Lesley's passion and commitment to strong CYC practice never waned. Jean commented; 'I can't believe that she is still at Knowles over 20 years later -what an impressive contribution to the support of vulnerable young people. I hope that Lesley's CYC Diploma contributed to her ability to maintain her commitment to working with young people in managed care for so many years. I know that Lesley's belief that child and youth care is a unique profession was important to her, even from the very beginning. She is truly a Child and Youth Care Professional.'

Many years later when Karl was teaching at the MCFCS program at Louis Riel College he accompanied a MMF student to Knowles for a practicum placement. Karl remembers "The door opened and there was Lesley - her welcoming demeanour and continued contributions to student's professional development signaled that CYC was on a roll". Diane Parris, former Knowles supervisor, interviewed Lesley for summer camp staffing. This was early in Lesley's career at Knowles Centre and she would once again be working the night shift. Lesley was willing to take on any job, which again, demonstrated her commitment to the field. As her role evolved from up-night staff at camp to full time child and youth care practitioner, to program manager and currently Acting Director of Group Care Treatment, Lesley's attributes have always been well suited to the role. Diane proudly reports that Lesley will advocate for the best interest of the youth, she looks for avenues to enhance child and youth care practice and understands the potential in the ongoing development of the role of child and youth care practitioners.

Michael Burdz, executive director, Knowles Centre, is keenly aware of how skillfully Lesley uses her CYC skills in all aspects of her work. Michael appreciates her exceptional interpersonal skills in responding to the anger and hurt of the youth. She skillfully de-escalates challenging situations and helps youth to process and problem solve. Lesley understands the importance of the Cultural Program at Knowles in developing self identity for youth. She recognizes the importance of a youth 'knowing who they are' and building self esteem in order to navigate life successfully. "Lesley is a very good ambassador for Knowles Centre and her ability to work within the multi-system complexities of the child welfare system always leaves the community with a favourable impression of our work," is just one sample of Michael's praise of Lesley's leadership abilities. Lesley is always 'a voice' for the needs of kids and staff- as she will steadfastly pursue resources until she gets what is needed for the betterment of the program. As well, when times are tough, Lesley's sense of humour will lighten the mood in tough situations. As a former health care professional, I can relate to Lesley's journey as I too started out on the night shift and eventually lead group care, in home support and therapeutic foster care programs. I have been privileged to witness many skilled CYC practitioners in the field, who humbly go about their job. Although I did not work with Lesley directly, my phone calls with her, and meetings at practicum sites and conferences throughout the years always left me knowing the character of this fine child and youth care practitioner, program manager and director. We applaud all of your achievements Lesley.

Susan Claire Johnson MMFT

Article credit to Child and Youth Care Workers' Association of Manitoba


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