Inclusive celebrations and holidays this winter at UBC

Story by: Breeonne Baxter, UBC Human Resources

This winter at UBC, our community is celebrating Christmas as well as events and holidays from around the world. Our students and staff reflect a wonderfully diverse range of cultural backgrounds and faith identities and this time of year is an opportunity for us all to celebrate the cultures that make up our UBC community.

Some of the major events at this time of year are already underway. Hanukkah (Judaism) began earlier this week, Winter Solstice (Paganism), Mawlid an Nabi (Islam) and Christmas (Christianity) are in just a few weeks’ time. In February, we will see festivities for Lunar New Year (Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist). To see the full Days of Significance list, visit the Equity and Inclusion office website.

Join us in February 2016 when UBC celebrates the Year of the Monkey in grand style. The UBC Centennial Lunar New Year Festival is a great opportunity for the UBC community to get involved in one of the campus’ largest cultural events.

Ways to Celebrate in the Workplace

At this time of year, there is a great opportunity to celebrate the season together, in a respectful and positive way that includes everyone and can help us all build intercultural understanding.

  • Display a multi-cultural calendar in your workplace to raise awareness of important cultural/faith events and holidays throughout the entire year.
  • Celebrate all faiths present in your workplace.
  • Consider having a New Year’s celebration party instead of a holiday party in December.
  • Be flexible with the needs of different staff around faith and/or holiday celebrations.
  • In your workplace or at celebration events, bring together decorations and food from the different cultures in your workplace, and encourage staff to share stories about their favourite traditions.
  • Be respectful of religious holidays at this time of year when planning events and meetings. Check the Days of Significance calendar for some guidance.

Office Decorations

Here are some tips to make your office decorations inclusive and respectful of all cultures and beliefs:

  • Aim to maintain a neutral décor in the front-facing areas of your office
  • Ensure your office is accessible and make sure decorations do not prevent or block access to public services.
  • Consider how your office might celebrate dates significant to the members of your workplace community. When providing ideas for decorations, you can include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Shinto holidays as well as Christmas. Refer to the Days of Significance calendar.
  • Invite staff from all faith identities to be involved in the office decorating discussion.
  • Set an agreed upon limit to the number of days that your office will display decorations, and have a discussion about what other times of year you might want to decorate, in celebration of other events.
  • Use the holidays as an opportunity to build community within your office, and with the people your office serves or supports.

If you are feeling excluded as a result of office celebrations, you are encouraged to reach out to a colleague or a supervisor and have a conversation about how you feel and how you would like your culture or beliefs to be included. At UBC we should all feel comfortable to share our culture and beliefs with others.

Alternately, you are welcome to contact the Equity and Inclusion Office or your HR Advisor to discuss.

We hope that this advice provides some suggestions on how to foster community and inclusivity at this time of year through encouraging the celebration of our many cultures and faiths on campus.

If you have suggestions or you would like to share your office’s inclusive decorations, please share a photo on twitter @EquityUBCV


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