Building and sustaining diversity and inclusion across our collection of attractions, lodges and tours is an ongoing journey for Pursuit.
As we work towards solidifying Pursuit-wide actions that represent our fundamental belief in respect for all, our 2021 focus was on our team. Our top priority in 2021 was creating a dialogue with our team members to raise awareness and share ideas around causes that are meaningful to all of us. To create this culture of openness, we did our best to foster a safe space for sharing ideas. As a result, we were able to support a series of ground-up, grassroots initiatives that strengthen our commitment to inclusion.
Personal pronouns — him, his, she, her, them, they — are part of our identities. So when seasonal team members at the Columbia Icefield approached People and Culture to express that sharing pronouns would lead to a deeper understanding of each other and encourage everyone to be their authentic self, we reached out to the Centre for Sexuality in Calgary. We realized that educating ourselves on the meaning and significance of personal pronouns was integral to inclusivity, and this led us to holding four virtual training sessions for all Pursuit staff facilitated by the Centre for Sexuality. We then created and distributed personal pronoun buttons and provided a new email signature template, giving all team members across Pursuit the freedom to participate in the way that felt right for them.
On October 30, the team at the Banff Gondola partnered with the Indian Society of Calgary to celebrate the Gondola's first Diwali. The colourful festival of light is India's largest and most important holiday of the year, and the Indian Society of Calgary was instrumental in helping us create an immersive multicultural celebration. Special Diwali programming included décor and lanterns, rangoli art exhibits, music, a portrait artist, and a butter chicken and paneer poutine bar — a celebratory fusion of Canadian and Indian cuisine. Volunteers arrived dressed in traditional clothing and were on hand to welcome and celebrate with upwards of 1,300 guests.
The last few years have highlighted how important learning about other cultures and ways of life truly is, which has made our culture exchange program more relevant than ever. Each year, our Glacier Park and Alaska Collection teams welcome international university students to our remote lodges and attractions to gain valuable work experience — students visit from as far afield as Taiwan, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia. These youths are integral to our seasonal operations, sharing their unique perspectives and cultures with our North American team members and guests. Throughout the season, students lead a variety of cultural awareness events, and over the years, we've shared meals showcasing traditional dishes, enjoyed music and dance performances, and attended presentations to learn about daily life in our students' home countries.
After learning about the atrocities of Canada's residential school discoveries, Parv Shah, Director of Housekeeping for Pursuit's Jasper properties, was determined to find a way forward towards reconciliation. Already planning to diversify his housekeeping team, Parv pivoted his focus to Indigenous recruits, hiring and training 39 new seasonal team members from Treaty Six in the Prairie region of Canada.
Pursuit's spirit of inclusivity and diversity is collective, with every team member having a story to tell. Moving through 2022, we continue to invite and encourage meaningful conversations that inspire and challenge us all to do better.
We are building a team of passionate people determined to make a difference in the places we love. Every effort counts. Meet more of them here and discover how Promise to Place is the real deal.