Collingwood Neighbourhood House
By: Nkirote Waignajo, AMSSA Volunteer
Diversity and inclusion is not a goal that is achieved and forgotten but is a continuous process of learning and re-learning with an open mind. AMSSA recognizes Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) as not only an integral part of the Vancouver community but as an organization that continuously strives for diversity and inclusion in its community and amongst its staff.
The following is an example of how CNH is working towards making itself more inclusive, specifically in regards to the LGBTQ+ community. A staff member who self-identifies as a lesbian, upon leaving her position to travel acknowledged that although she generally felt welcomed at CNH she was occasionally made uncomfortable when other staff members tried to match her with men. CNH appreciated this feedback and swiftly took steps to ensure a more LGBTQ+ aware environment. As a great first step they put up rainbow stickers and Our City of Colours posters featuring diverse LGBTQ+ couples to better show that they are welcoming to all individuals. Some staff members then took the initiative to attend the Inclusion Café training offered by AMSSA, in order to self-reflect on their attitudes and knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community and issues this community faces. This highlights the humility of the CNH staff in accepting that there is always more to learn in regards to diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, CNH worked with AMSSA staff who created a tailored Safe Harbour Workshop for all CNH staff members on LGBTQ+ issues that could potentially arise in the workplace; this sparked powerful and educational discussions within the organization.
As we know, building awareness of diversity and fostering inclusion doesn’t happen overnight. One of the rainbow posters, which included images of same sex partners together, was repeatedly defaced. No one knew who defaced the poster but instead of taking it down, CNH continuously replaced it. While a tedious task, CNH did not surrender to the vandalism because it truly believes in sharing its message and vision of creating an inclusive community. In addition, it ordered a rainbow banner to be hung prominently right in front of the CNH building during pride week each year. It also created two non-gender-specific washrooms.
AMSSA congratulates Collingwood Neighbourhood House for its efforts so far, as well as its continuous work towards creating a truly diverse and inclusive organization.