“One of the most safe places I’ve ever been was learning with NPower Canada. I felt included.” – Dustin Woods-Turner (they/them), 2021 alumni
This year, NPower Canada recognized Pride Month with the theme Space for All. As an organization committed to fostering inclusivity for all of our stakeholders, regardless of any dimension of diversity including sexuality and gender, it is of utmost importance to us that our staff and participants feel safe, seen, heard and valued when interacting with NPower Canada.
Throughout the month on our social media, we have been sharing how our LBGTQ2S+ alumni relate to being safe, seen, heard, and valued. Here are some of our favourite quotes:
“What makes up a whole community is when we recognize that we’re all in this together. It shows through inclusivity, diversity, and unity. Together we breakthrough, we step up into a stronger, more caring, and supportive environment,” JT (he/him), 2021 participant, #safe
“When I think of valued, I also think of respected. With the past year and watching what has been happening in political aspects, just remember that we are here. We are strong. We will get through this! Stand your ground, and be proud,” Sarah (they/them), 2022 graduate, #valued
To honour the month and create Space for All, NPower Canada also hosted a panel event titled “LGBTQ2S+ Inclusion at Work.” NPower Canada’s own Emilie Jones, Interim Manager of Communications & Engagement (she/her) and Jyoti Singh (she/her), Career Specialist, moderated the panel, which was made up of Brandan Dietrich (he/him, they/them), Marketing Manager, NPower Canada, Dustin Woods-Turner (they/them), NPower Canada alumni, and Ishita Sharma (she/her), Partner Operations Manager at Google Cloud and volunteer mentor with NPower Canada.
The panel kicked off by asking each panelist what Pride Month means to them.
Ishita shared that for her, Pride Month is “protest, it is joy, and it is carrying all of that with us and continuing to do the work, celebrating the good, and discussing and holding each other during the bad and moving forward.”
Dustin noted that for them, what Pride Month means changes from year to year, but that it is a “chance to come out, a chance to experiment, a chance to accept, a chance to learn about other people and their experiences, and where my own biases lay, and what I can do to be an ally to other people, as well as be loud about myself.”
Brandan reminded the audience of the origin of Pride Month as protest, and that during the month, it is an opportunity to look at where the biggest struggles in the community are happening. “We need to recognize our past, recognize our history, and those who have fought so hard and are no longer with us. It is a time to remember them, and provides us with an opportunity to showcase where we’re going,” Brandan said.
The panelists then dove into what it means to feel included at work and to feel safe. Brandan shared that in a professional sense, a safe space is one that “provides an opportunity for everyone to be recognized for who they are and their professional achievements,” and Ishita added that workplaces should make it “really accessible to learn that we are all nuanced and intersectional, but also to have an underlying that we’re all here for the same goal, and [each person] must be treated with a basic level of respect and kindness.”
As an alum, Dustin was able to share a unique perspective about their experience in the NPower Canada program. “One of the most safe places I’ve ever been was learning with NPower Canada. I felt included. Our instructors, staff, career specialists, we were all diverse, all different kinds of people. So many times in the past, I felt like the only one, but being at NPower Canada, I felt that I was part of a group. There were people who looked like me, who felt like me. The instructors would talk to me about my struggles, mental health, homelessness, the trajectory that I wanted to take with my career, and they modified their strategies for learning, and they helped me. I’m so grateful for them.”
We want to thank the panelists for their candour, vulnerability, and insightful answers, and we thank all those who came to learn and celebrate Pride Month.