Nova Scotia

Sobeys manager honoured for creating store environment that welcomes disabled

Paul Keinick, who manages the Cole Harbour Sobeys, is to receive the Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor General on Monday. The father of two boys with vision and learning problems, he takes his inspiration from his own home.

Paul Keinick to receive Meritorious Service Cross from the Governor General on Monday

Paul Keinick, store manager of Sobeys in Cole Harbour, is being recognized by the Governor General for his work in making his store welcoming and accessible for both customers and employees. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

When it comes to ensuring the Cole Harbour Sobeys store is as accessible as possible for employees and customers, general manager Paul Keinick looks to his twin boys for inspiration.

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

Keinick is one of 22 Nova Scotians receiving honours from the Governor General on Monday in Moncton. He will receive the Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) for his working in helping both customers and employees with disabilities.

Nearly a third of the staff at the Cole Harbour Sobeys are people with disabilities. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

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," said Keinick. "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 been the store manager for more than three years and it was in his early days in that role he started making his store more accessible.

It started when 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. 

Sobeys manager Paul Keinick ordered a Caroline's Cart for his store to help parents of children with mobility issues. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"We're trying to be as inclusive as possible in all facets for our customers through our accessibility, as well as for our staff," he said.

Keinick developed a manual for his peers at other stores so they can feel more comfortable hiring people with disabilities. He also 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.

Becoming a more accessible store has made "absolutely great business sense," Keinick said.

"My turnover has gone down, the customer satisfaction has gone up and customer engagement has gone up, my employee engagement has increased. All the good business results are there for me as well."


Anjuli Patil


Anjuli Patil is a reporter and occasional video journalist with CBC Nova Scotia's digital team.