Celebrating Diversity at WhiteWater
Traditionally in June your social media feed is covered in rainbows and bright colours as people around the world celebrate Pride Month, a time dedicated to the continued solidarity, fight for human rights, and visibility of the LGBTQI+ community. However, in Vancouver, BC Pride has traditionally been celebrated in August. Nearly 50 years ago in 1973, the Gay Alliance Toward Equality, often referred to as GATE, organized a special picnic and art exhibit in Ceperley Park to celebrate Pride. This iconic event set the precedence for Gay Pride Vancouver, and in 1978, the city celebrated its very first Pride Parade.
What initially started as a low-key demonstration covering just one side of the street in 1978, has now evolved into a lively, candid, and larger than life event which colors the city streets each year. Vancouver’s parade is the largest Pride Parade in Western Canada, and one of the biggest in North America, welcoming roughly 150 entries. Continuing the celebrations in August this year, WhiteWater looks to recognize Pride as a way to celebrate diversity, let our friends and family know they are seen, and to help everyone feel accepted.
Providing Support and Standing in Solidarity
The WhiteWater family are continuing to show our support for the LGBTQI+ community in a very special way. Continuing our collaboration from the last two years, WhiteWater will be raising funds to sponsor individuals through an initiative called Rainbow Refugee. Founded in 2000, Rainbow Refugee is a Vancouver based community group that supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) or HIV status.
Here in Canada, we enjoy enormous freedoms within the LGBTQI+ community whereas in many parts of the world, identifying as such could lead to alienation, imprisonment, and death. As an organization, Rainbow Refugee works to play a critical role in securing the life and safety of refugees. The donations raised by the company will go towards covering living costs, shelter, food, etc. for a newcomer during their first year in Canada.
Creating a Safe Work Environment
In 2020, WhiteWater launched the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Team (DE&I Team) to generate awareness around and take steps to become more diverse and inclusive. There are many differences between us, including gender, age, religion, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation, languages, education, abilities, skillsets, personalities as well as many other characteristics.
Diversity isn’t about eliminating these differences, but rather understanding, accepting and valuing what makes each of us unique. To maximize the benefit of diversity is to build an inclusive environment where we create collaborative, supportive and respectful places that encourage participation and contribution. A diverse and inclusive workplace is proven to be more creative, more innovative, and foster a more positive environment. A place we each want to be.
While we bring awareness to diversity by celebrating Pride this month, this journey is one that extends throughout all 12 months of the year and will be ongoing process, taking time to learn and integrate effectively. Along the way, we will stumble, experience uncertainty and challenges. Every step we take in creating awareness, the closer we are to a workplace, and world, where we can all feel we belong and are able to make a meaningful contribution.
Get to Know the WhiteWater Family
Each month we spotlight one of the members of our talented team. It is said that there is no ‘I’ in team, and at WhiteWater we believe it is our people who make us the global leader in the industry. We are a diverse group of experts, from creative designers to talented engineers, get to know the members of our talented team here: www.whitewaterwest.com/en/about/our-people/
Learn more about Rainbow Refugee
Founded in 2000, Rainbow Refugee is a Vancouver based community group that supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) or HIV status.
In 2011, Rainbow Refugee Society entered into partnership with the Federal government to direct a blended sponsorship program called the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP). This is a national project and Rainbow Refugee has the responsibility of working with its own Circles of Hope as well as other community organizations across Canada to sponsor LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.
The RRAP is part of the private sponsorship stream. Private sponsorship generally is a 12-month commitment once the newcomer arrives in Canada. The applications for individuals and couples are submitted through a government approved Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH).
To promote safe equitable migration and communities of belonging for people fleeing Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression and HIV+ persecution. Learn more about how you can support their mission here: www.rainbowrefugee.com/take-action.