Understanding diversity, especially in the context of our country’s history, is an important part of being an engaged citizen who can adapt to a changing world. Diversity goes hand-in-hand with the concepts of equity and inclusion, which increase the chances of equal opportunity and representation. Sometimes creating inclusive communities upsets the social order with which people are familiar. Change can be difficult, and people are passionate. These passions can disrupt communities and communication with uncivil behaviour, or people can “fight fair” and use strategies that allow for the smooth exchange of ideas.
Everyone has a personal identity made up of various aspects and experiences — their intersectionality. Some elements of identity place people in a diversity category. Some categories are expansive and well understood; others are new and may face scrutiny. Policies, such as ACC’s Respectful College Policy and laws (the Manitoba Human Rights Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act) have been put in place to protect people who have been historically disadvantaged from discrimination and harassment.
Human rights legislation is given paramount status in Canada — meaning they are the top laws of the country. These standards are constantly being challenged to make sure that they allow for the shifting demographics of Canada and to ensure that people are treated equitably and are not unreasonably subjected to unfair treatment. Cultural competency, which includes our ability to adapt to diversity, is an essential skill.
Interacting respectfully with diverse people is an expectation under the ACC Respectful College and Sexual Violence policies, but beyond that, it will serve people well in their personal lives, communities, and workplaces. The more culturally competent we are, the more we can help safeguard diversity and make equitable and inclusive connections on a global scale.
This chapter touched on many elements of civility and diversity, and mentioned a wide array of groups, identities, and populations. But the chapter certainly did not explore every concept or reflect every group you may encounter. In a similar way, you can’t know everything about everyone, but you can build cultural competency and understanding to make people feel included and deepen your abilities and relationships. Sometimes learning about one group or making one person feel comfortable can be as important as addressing a larger population.