How inclusive is Whistler, really?
Vital Café: How inclusive is Whistler, really? Let's go ALL IN! was held on March 19th at the Whistler Museum & Archives. Watch our Vital Signs page for details on the next Vital Café.
Story by Libby McKeever, Vital Signs Coordinator with exerpts from Carole Stretch of the Whistler Welcome Centre.
When you think of the word inclusion, many things come to mind, such as being part of a group no matter your physical accessibility, diversity, gender, sexual orientation, education or health. The topic How inclusive is Whistler, really? looked at how we, as a community, are inclusive of people from different cultures.
Carole Stretch, program manager with the Whistler Multicultural Network, gave a brief presentation on the diverse cultural makeup of the community of Whistler. People in the audience were surprised to learn that 10% of Whistler’s permanent population are temporary foreign workers. Up until 2010, the community of Squamish saw the most immigrants in the corridor. According to the 2016 census data though, Whistler’s immigrant population increased almost three-fold from 2011-2016 and now outstrips Squamish.
In view of this fact, it is a good topic to discuss in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Guidelines, a tenet of Vital Signs. The United Nations have developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals with calls to action as a "shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future."
When talking about inclusion, the goals that speak to cultural inclusivity and diversity are:
3. Good Health & Well-being - Where a sense of connectiveness to our community and belonging, contributes to our individual health and well-being.
10. Reduced Inequalities – Where opportunities for work and pleasures are equal for all in Whistler. Where newcomer support services are in place to ensure equal prospects.
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities – Where in this human settlement of Whistler, we create environments that are inclusive and resiliant for our current community and newcomers alike.
DOES WELCOMING MEAN INCLUSIVE?
Words by Carole Stretch
Is it enough to invite newcomers into our existing groups, activities and events? Many of the current newcomers aren’t coming for the skiing, biking, or hiking. They bring with them different needs, expectations, wishes and hopes for their futures and their new home. As our diversity grows, we need to acknowledge how we all approach things in different ways.
If we only welcome people to our groups who participate in the same way as us, then we are missing out on all the richness that diversity brings. Yes, we may need to adapt the way we interact with each other, the way that we work or how we experience things, and that might be uncomfortable or strange at first, but think about what we gain…..
- Everyone is able to feel involved, fulfilled and included in their own way
- If people are able to work and interact in ways that support their self-esteem and self-worth, they will be more productive, more engaged.
- More participation and diversity enriches our community, our workplaces and our social lives
If we accept the benefits of being inclusive, we then need to ask ourselves how inclusive are we really? How comfortable do we feel about difference? And what should we be doing as a community to be more inclusive?
This is a big discussion, one I hope the community will pick up on. On one level, just talking about how we are all different will move us towards being more inclusive. What else can we do? Here are a few suggestions….
- Ask questions
- Be interested, curious about others
- Reflect on uncomfortable interactions
- Try to understand the other’s point of view or expectations – empathize
- Initiate connections
- Embrace diversity
ABOUT VITAL SIGNS
Whistler’s Vital Signs initiative uses local knowledge to measure the vitality of our community, create conversations and encourage collective action.
Our Vital Cafés will continue in the fall of 2019.
Posted on Tuesday, August 27, 2019