Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

International Day to Eliminate Discrimination

Posted by QEQ Intern | 03.22.13

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, launched by the UN  on March 21st, 1979. On that occasion, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with those struggling with racism and racial discrimination, would begin on 21 March, and be organized annually around the world.

Here in Canada, there is a program that all organizations and individuals can participate in, in an effort to eliminate all types of discrimination here in our own communities.  The program, launched by AMSSA, trains employees and businesses to be a safe refuge for people no matter what background they come from and to offer help for those in need.  The program is called Safe Harbour – Respect for All.

I had the opportunity to participate in a Safe Harbour – Respect for All orientation. The QEQ team and I attended this program on March 11th at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood house.

What surprised me is that various diverse companies such as Safeway Canada, as well as many smaller organizations, such as community centres and local business all over Canada, are active in the Safe Harbour program.

The training showed the importance of acting equitably to all kinds of different people, regardless of your own first impression; your own biases of the  homeless, mentally ill or disabled people can result in actions based on prejudices. As we try to create a portfolio of information about a person, we sometimes can make assumptions that are wrong, possibly causing exclusion and discrimination.

I felt the Safe Harbour – Respect for All orientation was a good refresher for me about diversity and changed my view in a new direction. With personal stories of racism and discrimination, and special scenarios, the trainer created a safe place to tell your story and to show your opinion, in a respectful and friendly atmosphere.

I think it is important, especially for young people, to attend such a workshop. It made me think of how on my own actions may be judgemental to people, when I really don’t know them.

In my opinion, every kind of big or small company would benefit from the Safe Harbour – Respect for All orientation.  Canada’s society is increasingly multicultural (16.2% of the Canadian population are a part of a visible minority and even 40% of Vancouver’s population).

Upon completion of the workshop, participants receive a Safe Harbour window decal, to display at their business location


In every part of business day-to-day, being equitable and open-minded could help enhance your organization’s reputation within the community, lessen tension among employees and customers, create a more welcoming atmosphere in your neighbourhood, and possibly increase your sales. Even a temporary foreign student like me can contribute to help make Canada a better place.  – Posted by Rick Deter, Marketing Intern at QEQ, from Germany.