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From bar stools to greener pastures: Erin resident finds career change amid COVID-19

Liz Guerrier found herself changing careers, closing down a pub she owned in Toronto before establishing an agri-business in Erin.

“Be open to opportunities even though they may be different from what you had envisioned,” said Guerrier, co-owner of Coyote Song Farm and Forest. “I think that can open some possibilities.”

She owned Dave’s... on St. Clair for 10 years before it closed. She held mic nights, live music and trivia. It was a mom-and-pop pizzeria before she turned it into a pub.

“Everyone was kind to me when I had to decide to close my pub,” said Guerrier. “A lot of people have been happy and inspired to see me moving forward with a new plan and venture.”

The business’s name is derived from her enjoyment of sitting outside and listening to the coyotes singing through the night with her family.

Guerrier is just one of many who had to rethink her plans to salvage a better future.

Second Chance Employment Counselling has helped people start thinking about new jobs. They have seen more people interested in re-training.

“Initially, we saw a lot of people interested in transportation, like truck driving,” said Chris Baginski-Hansen, executive director. “We saw quite an influx in that area. That started to level out now, and we see a bit more variety.”

There’s a lot more back-and-forth over the phone and through emails which has caused job seekers taking a longer-than-normal time to land a job.

“Not everyone has a computer for each member of their family,” said Chris Baginski-Hansen, executive director. “You can imagine a family with one computer. During the day, the priority is for the child in school. Parents have to shuffle when they have access to a computer.”

The employment agency provides personal, customized services for people who want to find employment or explore their training and career options. She said job seekers need to look at a combination of their interests and skill sets while also researching what is in demand.

“It’s important people take training in what they’re interested in, but they have to make sure there’s a demand for that training and that skill set before you invest all that time, energy and money.”

Guerrier’s vegetable farm is located on her mother-in-law’s 23-acre property, land that had been uncultivated since at least 1989. Though new to farming, she has experience growing vegetables in her back yard.

“There’s always some amount of nerves of taking on some risk,” said Guerrier. “We’re probably producing on an acre and a half this first year.”

She never thought about farming before the pandemic and her business closing in Toronto. But she always thought about having a business outside of a major city, a quieter life in the county.

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“I think it’s important to think about what kind of lifestyle you want, as well as what job you want. The two things are connected.”

Story Behind the Story: After learning about an Erin resident who lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Joshua Santos reached out to an employment agency to find out how many other people thought about a career change.
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