The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

Symposium to engage all groups of society to discuss multicultural initiatives

Pollock thumbAn upcoming conference, billed as the first of its kind, is working towards creating "barrier-free" organizations across Calgary that promote openness and non-discriminatory hiring and operating policies.

The Calgary Police Service is hosting the 2011 Diversity Conference from Nov. 8 to 10.

Sgt. Bill Dodd of the diversity resources unit at the Calgary Police Service said the conference was launched to address diversity issues, such as employment issues and having new immigrants credentials recognized in Canada.

"We see ourselves as a part of the community, and instead of reacting to societal change we can be an agent of societal change," Dodd said.

The conference will include many professionals from different organizations, including Valerie Pruegger from Intercultural Interactions Inc., who will be speaking about how community organizations and municipal governments need to work together to develop diversity initiatives.

SidebarPruegger said that while Calgary has come a long way in overcoming barriers, the city still has a long way to go. However, she is hopeful that her presentation at the conference will give organizations the tools they need to create more inclusive environments.

"Diversity is a fact of nature. We need to learn how to provide space and opportunities so that everyone can succeed, feel accepted and be welcomed in our communities," wrote Pruegger in an email.

The conference is unique in that it brings together people from all different aspects of society: police departments, government agencies and corporations.

"All of these groups are part of one community, and I think there's a real interconnectivity between them about some of the issues that we have with diverse communities," Dodd said.

"Not knowing going into it, we kind of tried to estimate what the interest would be, and what we found was we really underestimated the interest."

The conference has been sold out for months and organizers have had to add free sessions with the Calgary-based speakers in order to accommodate everyone that wanted to attend the conference.

Elizabeth Cooke, a member of diversity resources within the Calgary Police Service, will be attending the conference and said she is looking forward to hearing from the speakers at the conference and learning new strategies to help diverse communities.

"It's going to help create awareness on my end about how to better serve our communities," Cooke said.

Dodd added, "Calgary is really a cosmopolitan, growing, vibrant city and we need to look through that diversity lens so we can serve everybody as best we can."

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