GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Safe Harbour training facilitator Lindsay Marsh, left, led a workshop yesterday for local businesses and institutions to create safer communities that support cultural diversity. Bradley Tyler-West, LGBT program facilitator for the Sexual Education Resource Centre, centre, and Shanti Subedar, community development programmer for the City of Brandon, attended the one-day seminar along with more than a dozen other local institutions.
The City of Brandon has sought the help of a Vancouver-based training program to help local businesses and institutions create a more welcoming community for newcomers and marginalized citizens.
Safe Harbour, a training program aimed at creating an inclusive workplace for both employees and clients, held a workshop yesterday at the Riverbank Discovery Centre which attracted representatives from 15 Brandon institutions, including Brandon University, the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba and Westman Immigration Services.
One local business owner attended the seminar.
Diversity statements, policies and unbiased recruitment strategies were some of the points touched on during the meeting.
"A lot of businesses say that they struggle to recruit and retain aboriginal people for example, but how hard is it to be an aboriginal person in the workplace when you’re the only one?" asked diversity training facilitator Lindsay Marsh. "Their cultural needs may not be met."
Once businesses and institutions complete the workshop, they are given door stickers to advertise themselves as an immediate inclusive and safe place.
While Brandon is going through an unprecedented time of growth by way of immigrants, the scope of the training program — which made its push into Manitoba last year — also references people with disabilities and sexual minorities.
"It’s about taking the time and understanding there’s different ways to communicate with someone," Marsh said.
Shanti Subedar, community development programmer for the City of Brandon, said she hopes the city will continue to fund more Safe Harbour workshops. The organization stopped receiving federal funding after a two-year commitment ended, however, it still receives funding from the B.C. government.
"Everyone who participated this afternoon will become trainers themselves, so some of those people will want to provide the workshop to their own workplace or to other community groups," she said, "but I would like to provide more training that targets businesses and really explain the value in having that training."
Bradley Tyler-West, Brandon’s LGBT program facilitator for the Sexual Education Resource Centre, said the city’s fast-paced growth means programs like this need to be implemented quickly to keep up with Brandon’s expanding diversity.
"Brandon is at a place where it is changing very quickly, compared to historically how it’s changed," he said. "We have to run with these issues that we may not have had to run with before.
"Brandon is getting used to going faster and faster, but then how do we have those conversations that historically we could take two, three, four years to have, now we don’t have that luxury anymore. We have to have these conversations and resolve these issues in months."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 4, 2013