Businesses to receive ‘Respect’ presentations

Wednesday, 21 September 2011 - 12:44pm
By Heather Latter, Staff writer, Fort Frances Times Ltd.

The local Celebrating Diversity Committee will be moving ahead with its promotion of the “Respect Campaign” to area businesses and organizations just as soon as more presenters are trained to offer the workshop.
“We identified that we really didn’t have enough folks to be doing it,” noted committee chair Trudy McCormick. “But a number of people volunteered to be trained to do the presentations.
“So hopefully soon, we will have a group of people trained to be able to deliver the presentation because the way it’s designed, you need at least two presenters,” she explained.
Three committee members developed a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Six Steps to a More Respectful Community,” which aims to initiate conversations about diversity.
“Think before you speak and think before you act,” McCormick remarked. “It’s all about raising people’s awareness of the issues around diversity and the importance of respecting difference.
“And hopefully by having conversations about it, then when people are in a situation the next time, they’ll have some ideas of how to handle it better,” she reasoned.
McCormick noted the definition of diversity is very broad, and includes gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, religion, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, race, age, etc.
The presentation already was offered to staff at the Rainy River District School Board—and saw positive results.
“It was really amazing,” McCormick enthused. “It was exciting to see when a room of 50 people broke up into small group discussions and all the things that came out and the learning.
“There were a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments.”
The committee would like to continue to offer this presentation to businesses and organizations, not just in Fort Frances but district-wide.
The idea of offering the presentations in Atikokan recently was pitched to the community and McCormick indicated there was interest.
“We were really pleased with the reception in Atikokan, and pretty excited about going back and doing it with a broad group of agencies in the community. . . .
“And we’ve talked to a couple organizations locally about bringing it in to present to their workplace,” McCormick added.
“So hopefully by the end of 2011, we will have done a number of presentations in the community and getting the word out there.”
McCormick said the committee would like to provide those who take the workshop with visible identifiers (i.e., buttons, lanyards, posters, and door signs) so anyone going into these organizations immediately will know they can expect to be treated with respect.
However, they still are working on funding to obtain those materials.
“Because this is all volunteer and all non-profit,” she explained of the Celebrating Diversity Committee, which is made up of people from across the district.
Meanwhile, students throughout the district will participate in the “Respect.Technology” program being offered by local OPP Const. Anne McCoy, in conjunction with the Celebrating Diversity Committee’s “Respect Campaign” for businesses and organizations.
The Celebrating Diversity Committee focuses on “working together to create communities that celebrate diversity by actively practising and promoting dignity, respect, and inclusiveness.”