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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paul Keinick, manager of the Sobeys store in Cole Harbour, N.S., has been recognized by the Governor General for his work in making the store welcoming and accessible for both customers and employees.

Keinick received the Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) from the Governor General on Monday.

Ever since Keinick became the store manager more than three years, he’s been making his store more accessible, according to a CBC report. It started when he ordered a Caroline's Cart – a grocery cart-wheelchair hybrid designed to help parents of children with disabilities get around the store easier. From there, he's made a point to hire more people with disabilities. Today nearly a third of his staff have some form of disability. 

"This hits home for me. My two sons are visually impaired as well as developmentally delayed and I see them going into the workforce… I just want to make it a better place for them," Keinick told the CBC. "I'm hoping through my actions and spreading the word and teaching people about inclusion that will happen for them."

The Service Cross is given to people who have done "a deed or an activity that has been performed in an outstandingly professional manner, or with uncommonly high standards," according to the Governor General's website. The deed or activity is "often innovative, sets an example for others to follow, improves the quality of life of a community and brings considerable benefit or honour to Canada."

"It's not only a feel good moment for me, it's also a great business endeavour," Keinick adds. "It improves the working conditions in the store through hiring people with disabilities; customers love to see that we truly represent our community."

Keinick has also developed a manual for his peers at other stores so they can feel more comfortable hiring people with disabilities. He works with a local job agency so that people with disabilities can have the chance to job shadow at his store and then potentially be hired.

Image: Paul Keinick, Facebook

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