By David F. Rooney
Social development is a key sector of Revelstoke’s community and there is a lot happening on that front this winter and spring.
Starting on Monday, February 10, there are three days of diversity and employment workshops sponsored by Okanagan College, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and WCG, a Victoria-based employment consultancy.
The Monday workshop features a very interesting and challenging video entitled Ouch, That Stereotype Hurts. This 2011 film offers solutions to situations people sometimes find themselves in when they encounter prejudice and discrimination during conversations and other social situations. (Please click here to view a 90-second trailer for this engrossing video.)
The video is being shown at 7 pm in the Community Literacy Room at Begbie View Elementary School and is open to anyone who’d like to see it. The workshop portion is to be presented by Karen Maeers, a certified career development specialist with WCG. It will explore common scenarios people may find themselves in and practical tools for politely challenging prejudice and discrimination. You should register for this workshop by contacting Tanya Egli by phone at 250-837-4235 (extension 6508) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, February 11, Maeers will lead a three-hour workshop on Diversity and Respect in the Workplace. This workshop is set to begin at 1 pm on Tuesday and will be repeated on Wednesday, February 12 at 9 am. Both of those sessions are to be conducted at Okanagan College, located at 1401 First Street West. Please register for this workshop by contacting Tanya Egli by phone at 250-837-4235 (extension 6508) or by e-mail at email@example.com. (Please click here to view the poster for these three workshops.)
The third workshop is entitled Skills for Immigrant Employers and offers to help employers build a toolkit of Canadian best practices for hiring immigrants. It runs from 8:30 am until 11:30 am on Wednesday, February 12, and will also be led by Karen Maeers. You can register for this workshop by contacting Tanya Egli by phone at 250-837-4235 (extension 6508) or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details of these three workshops were discussed at a Community Partnerships (CP) meeting at the college on Tuesday, February 3. Community Partnerships brings together representatives from a number of organizations including the college, the English as a Second Language Program, the City, School District 19, the Multicultural Society, Embrace BC, and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, the Early Childhood Development Committee and Work BC.
Discussion at the CP meeting revealed three other new initiatives that are under development:
- The recent formation of a new Safe Spaces Society intended to provide support for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-gendered people in Revelstoke;
- The possible establishment of an Aboriginal facilitator for the general community; and
- The potential establishment of a sacred but religiously non-specific space that could be used by Muslims, Jews and others who are seeking a quiet place open to worship or meditation.
The Safe Spaces Society is brand new to Revelstoke and is the natural outcome of an ad hoc Safe Spaces Committee that has been meeting since last fall. It is working with RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky to deter hate crimes and is developing a number of different ideas such as the possible creation of a winter weekend aimed at non-heterosexual skiers Whistler has a program like that which has been very lucrative for their business community. There’s no reason why Revelstoke could not follow suit.
SD 19 Superintendent Mike Hooker who is helping develop a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policy for the district has recently consulted the society. The draft policy states that it is “committed to a safe, positive and inclusive learning and working environment for all students and employees regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The society hopes to eventually see the declaration of a Gay Pride Day, which could go a long way to alleviating the anxiety many gays, lesbians and other non-heterosexuals feel.
With regard to the creation of an Aboriginal Facilitator position in Revelstoke, Embrace BC Coordinator Laura Stovel told the CP meeting that a facilitator, supported by an advisory committee, could be established at a cost of about $7,500 — all of it to come through existing grant programs. The facilitator could work to promote aboriginal culture and knowledge in the general community and support the aspirations of native and Métis residents in Revelstoke. SD 19 has an active Aboriginal Education program and has been enjoying success in supporting Aboriginal students in Revelstoke schools. But nothing currently exists in terms of the general community.
With regard to the non-denominational sacred space project it is not that unusual to see Muslim travelers stop to pray at Woodenhead Park by the Trans-Canada Highway. A space open to them and other religious travellers may be an idea whose time has come and Stovel said she has discussed the concept with Jewish residents of Revelstoke as well s members of the Muslim community in Kelowna, where there is a mosque. But a public sacred space project will take some work to get off the ground. This is currently just an interesting idea and there is no organization or society in place to spearhead it. Whatever space might eventually be found for this should be easily accessible but can’t be expensive. If it comes to pass, this kind of sacred space should be devoid of faith-specific images and symbols. Facility security would also be a concern to organizers. We’ll see where this goes in the coming months.
Please click on the YouTube player below to view the Ouch, That Stereotype Hurts trailer: