ESTR’s Market, a space that aims to create job equality

Providing neurodiverse students a safe place to learn, while serving up amazing meals for 10 years

This year, the Education and Skills Training program market – commonly known as the ESTR Market – celebrates a decade of business. For 10 years, the market has offered training opportunities and a safe space to work for young people who identify as neuro-diverse while providing sustainable and accessible food and goods to the community. 

Located on the second floor of Old Main in room 2425, ESTR’s market operates a kitchen that makes and serves affordable and accessible food from scratch. The organizers and staff at ESTR’s are aware of dietary restrictions and aim to create food options for everyone. 

Alongside the kitchen, ESTR’s also sells sustainable and ethically sourced goods from a variety of local vendors. The products range from home decor, plants, jewellery and clothing items to snacks and treats. 

The market is staffed by the students of the ESTR program, offering a place where neuro-diverse students can gain experience in the work field. Co-founder Saskia Stinson reported that this program has opened up several opportunities for students to get jobs outside of the market. “It gave our students real-life opportunities to become trained,” Stinson said. “The students, what they gain is confidence; that’s the biggest thing that happens when they come here.” 

Saskia Stinson (back right) with ESTR staff and students Alexa Sherman, Ava Cottrill, Trinity Jensen and Josephine Etienne.
Deiveek Agarwal/The Omega

“Programs like this struggle because they are often misunderstood,” Stinson said. “That’s something that ESTR’s Market has really impacted; people are getting a greater understanding of what these youth are capable of doing.”

ESTR’s Market aims to create a space where neuro-diverse students are given equal career opportunities. Stinson is proud to say that ESTR’s Market is all about inclusion, diversity and offering new opportunities. 

“Education creates equality. This is a program that represents inclusion and diversity at TRU,” Stinson said.

Another goal of ESTR’s Market is to provide good food at affordable costs. 

“ESTR’s Market is on the Food Access website list because we keep our food costs down; we keep food accessible,” Stinson said. “We’re very aware of food security problems and challenges on this campus.” 

Stinson told the Omega that ESTR’s Market will host a 10th-anniversary ribbon-cutting ceremony in early November. New posters about what ESTR’s Market is about, its history and the impact it has on the community will be featured at the ceremony. 

ESTR’s Market is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to grab a warm meal made from scratch and check out all the local goods from various vendors available for purchase.