Okanagan College has launched a Positive Space Committee. Comprised of members from all corners of the college, this group is dedicated to creating and fostering positive spaces that support gender and sexual diversity on all OC campuses.
“The purpose of the Positive Space Committee is to challenge the patterns of silence and inequity that continue to marginalize lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, and queer students, staff, and faculty even in environments with anti-discriminatory and inclusive policies,” explains committee Chair Jewell Gillies. “It’s about awareness, but it’s also about action. This means proactively creating opportunities to educate, engage, and actively promote the inclusion of LGBT2QIA+ persons in every area of campus life”.
The Positive Space Committee also exists to engage in the prevention of discrimination through engagement, education, awareness, and celebration of our diverse population.
“We recognize this work will be ongoing and always reflective of the needs of our community”, adds Gillies. “The Positive Space Committee welcomes folks to the conversation with questions, concerns, or ideas on how we can achieve a truly positive space and experience on all of our campuses.”
Unfortunately, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an initial soft-launch and student/employee feedback event scheduled for March 31st, 2020, had to be postponed. However, Gillies notes that the committee will be continuing to meet digitally and thinking through ways to foster positive spaces even while students and many employees aren’t physically on campus.
Given the current social strife we are all experiencing in North America, and globally, Pride associations from coast-to-coast have put aside their agendas, and utilized their platforms, to include anti-racism messages in support of Black Lives Matter movements focused on eliminating the discrimination of Black People in any community. “Positive Space is about more than waving a rainbow flag during Pride month, it is about creating equitable access to safe and inclusive spaces for all members of the Okanagan College community,” Gillies concludes.
At Orbis, we believe in a future of fulfilled potential – for everyone. Initiatives like Okanagan College’s Positive Space Committee deserve attention and support. We are proud of Okanagan College and its faculty for starting this committee and doing the good work that they are doing to help further support and represent the LGBT2QIA+ community.