Safe Harbour program blossoms in lakecity

Managers and staff from 21 various businesses and agencies attended a Safe Harbour: Respect for All workshop in the lakecity.

Managers and staff from 21 various businesses and agencies attended a Safe Harbour: Respect for All certification and training workshop in Williams Lake last week.

“I’m delighted that so many businesses and organizations in our community are being proactive in creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace,” says Sharon Taylor, Welcoming Communities project co-ordinator, local Immigrant & Multicultural Services Society. “Safe Harbour locations show leaders who model respect for diversity.”

The day-long workshop Tuesday, Oct. 29 was facilitated by Safe Harbour national co-ordinator Lindsay Marsh, who says, “A truly welcoming community requires the commitment of all sectors of society.”

The Safe Harbour program is designed to increase awareness of who may be targeted for marginalization, racism and hate, as well as the impacts of stereotyping, bias and discrimination, Taylor says.

It helps individuals to better understand the depth of diversity in their community and learn practical anti-discrimination responses.

It aims to increase awareness of who may be targeted for marginalization, racism and hate as well as the impacts of stereotyping, bias and discrimination.

In the morning Taylor says participants learned about the program and discussed ideas about stereotyping, marginalization, and practical ways to address discrimination.

At the end of the morning workshop, people agreed to the following three key commitments of a Safe Harbour site: equitable treatment for all; an immediate safe place; and prepared employees and worksites.

By completing a two-hour certification workshop in the morning, she says participants were then invited to sign on as a Safe Harbour certified locations.

“We now have more than a dozen sites in town where people can feel confident that they are welcome and will be shown respect,” Taylor says.

Certified locations commit to equitable treatment for anyone who walks in the door, including offering a temporary safe place for people facing mistreatment.

Taylor said 16 people also remained in the afternoon to complete training as Safe Harbour facilitators, so that we will have the capacity to increase the number of Safe Harbour sites throughout the area.

“Ideally, we would like to see at least one Safe Harbour site in every commercial block in Williams Lake,” Taylor says. “Anyone interested in becoming a Safe Harbour site can contact me, as I am the community organizer for the program in Williams Lake.”

The 21 workshop participants included representation from Tolko Industries, City of Williams Lake; Social Planning Council; Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Area;  – Horton Ventures (Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, and Ashcroft); Women’s Contact Society; Communities that Care; Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy; Cariboo Regional District Library; Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society; and Canadian Mental Health Association – Chilcotin Cariboo: Multicultural Program  – Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society (Williams Lake Branch).

There are more than 1,000 Safe Harbour certified locations across Canada, co-ordinated nationally by AMSSA, an umbrella non-profit organization.

The Safe Harbour: Respect for All program is made possible through funding by EmbraceBC, the Ministry of International Trade and Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy & Multiculturalism with support from the Government of Canada.

“We were fortunate to have considerable financial support from Tolko Industries, with additional support from the Women’s Contact Society, the Social Planning Council of Williams Lake, and the Communities that Care program,” Taylor says.

She can be reached by phone at (778) 412-2999; fax at (778) 412-9030 or by email at www.imss.ca