How we Invest in Inclusion

At NorQuest College we lead by example through sensitivity, conversations, training, and respect for all who walk through our doors. Here are some of the ways that we invest in inclusion at the college.

Our Vision defines us as a vibrant, inclusive, and diverse learning environment that transforms lives and strengthens communities.

Our Values emphasize our call to “build on the diversity of our learners, employees, and partners.”

The NorQuest Learning Experience articulates that “our learners will have an inclusive learning experience. Our learning environment embodies diversity. Our uniqueness enriches our college. Our learners will develop skills in cultural understanding to succeed in the global community.”

The Code of Conduct Policy ensures employees demonstrate respect for the dignity and individuality of all persons by promoting an environment that is free of any form of harassment or discrimination, and encourages others to feel welcome and safe. All employees agree to this policy annually.

The Strategic Plan clearly defines our unique market position: “We are unique because of who we serve – an exceptionally diverse learner population.”

The Comprehensive Institutional Plan highlights how educating an incredibly diverse group of learners leads us to not only develop stronger cultural understandings among learners and employees, but the ability to teach those skills to the community.

The Colbourne Institute for Inclusive Leadership is a recognized leader in integrated, intercultural applied research, and education resource development engaging with public and private sectors on policy, strategy, and impactful training initiatives.

The Alberta Indigenous Construction Careers Centre (AICCC) is a unique client-focused employment service designed to connect prospective Indigenous workers with employers recruiting for careers, specializing in, but not exclusively for, the construction industry. It is a partnership with NorQuest College, the Government of Alberta, First Nation communities, and industry organizations.

The Indigenization Strategy (2.1MB pdf) entitled wahkôhtowin (a Cree word meaning “everything is related”) outlines how, as an institution of higher learning, NorQuest College is deeply committed to respectfully representing the cultural foundations, historical experiences, richness, and strength of Indigenous capabilities. It also guides us on addressing the challenges faced by Indigenous learners, families, and communities in the context of Canada today. It is a living document that provides us with a holistic approach to reconciliation and decolonization.

In a concerted effort to reaffirm the importance of Indigenous education, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) developed the Indigenous Education Protocol with input from member institutions and external partners. The document highlights the importance of structures and approaches required to address Indigenous Peoples’ learning needs, supports the educational and economic development of Indigenous communities, and affirms our responsibility to Indigenous education. In November 2017, NorQuest College became the first Edmonton post-secondary institution to sign the protocol. By signing, we recognize and respect that Indigenous Peoples include First Nation, Métis, and Inuit, and that they have distinct cultures, languages, histories, and contemporary perspectives.

The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund Legacy Room project is a result of the former Tragically Hip frontman’s calls to action for reconciliation, and celebrates the memory of Chanie Wenjack, a young First Nations boy from Ontario who never returned home from residential school over 50 years ago. The project is an opportunity for organizations and the corporate sector to answer Downie’s call to action. NorQuest is answering the call, in part, by dedicating a special space in the college in memory of victims and to honour the survivors of the Indian Residential Schools.

Colleges and Institutes Canada, in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada developed the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) in 2007 that continues to support immigrants prior to arriving in Canada and prepares them for integration into the community and workforce. NorQuest is among the eleven post-secondary institutions partnered with CIIP, and one of only two that participate in Alberta.

Wellness and Accessibility is a department under Student Services dealing with assessment, disabilities, academic support, and personal support. It includes counsellors, assessment team, social workers, health services, and disability services who work in tandem with academic strategists, who are part of the Academic Support Centre. Disability Services has created an Instructor Guidebook with information for instructors on disabilities, legislation, and their role regarding students with disabilities. We refer to this for questions about instructor responsibilities. We have sign language interpreters on staff, as well as people versed in assistive technologies, learning, and exam accommodations.

In addition to this, we firmly believe that inclusion is a fundamental leadership competency. An inclusive leader has a deep understanding of their own position with respect to diversity and a real desire to act on what they can do to be more inclusive. But this is not easy work, and the way that we approach inclusiveness, through sensitivity, conversations, training, and respect, is key to its success.

The college is committed to making inclusion and diversity competency a priority for staff and faculty at the college with Inclusive Engagement competencies. Research was conducted in 2012 to measure Intercultural Competence using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and training was developed using an IDI guided (research based) approach. Since the beginning of the Inclusion Engagement Initiative, over 250 staff and faculty have completed the Inclusive Culture Training Series. As well, in the first 2 years of offerings, 60% of staff had taken some form of Indigenous Awareness training and there continues to be high demand and participation. Since the launch of our Inclusion Engagement Initiative, we have held various co-curricular events designed to engage the entire NorQuest community. An intercultural specialist has been integrated into many NorQuest teams including the Indigenization team, College-wide Learning Day planning team, and professional development. With an inclusion lens, work is underway to integrate and connect a wide range of initiatives around a core set of Inclusive Engagement competencies.

In 2016, the college introduced a new internal employee award – the Inclusion Award - to recognize outstanding contributions to creating Inclusion and an Inclusive Culture in the college. This award acknowledges an individual employee who models, encourages, and promotes inclusion of diverse perspectives especially disability, Indigenous, immigrant, international, mental health, refugee, and LGBTQ+ to enhance the learning and working environment.

NorQuest chooses to be a place to learn how to engage in effective and supported ways across differences. While we acknowledge and recognize that diversity is a strength, we also know that intercultural spaces can be challenging and require preparation and support. Interactions in intercultural spaces can generate strong negative emotions and judgments when we experience misalignment in expectations, in spite of good intention, and when left unattended present a risk to trust and engagement. To build trust in all areas of inclusion, we have done many things including:

  • Structural facilities, including all gender washrooms, Reflection Room, Indigenous Student Centre, foot washing stations, on campus food options, quiet exam rooms, ramps, and audio elevator notifications.
  • Mentoring programs for students in our Youth in Transition (for ESL youth) and Transitions to Employment (for adults with mild cognitive developmental disabilities) programs.
  • Events, such as Inclusion Fusion, Community Dialogues, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations, Canada Day celebration with new Canadians, Diwali celebration, Road Hockey Tournament, International Development Week, Mental Health Fair, Pride Parade, and many other cultural and topical events, workshops, and presentations throughout the year.
Here are a few more activities we have embarked upon to support diversity and inclusion:
Inclusive Engagement
Indigenous Learners
Mental Health and Wellness
  • Professional Development series for faculty
  • Mental Health First Aid courses for employees
  • Student Association Mental Health promotion and psychoeducational activities
  • Student support services
  • Managing difficult conversations workshops, for all, for leaders, and for faculty
  • Mental Health Awareness Week
International Students
  • Student Orientation activity
  • Business Faculty Professional Development activity
  • International Student Peer Chat – Student Association of NorQuest College
  • International student services
Disability
  • Disability Dialogues
  • Disability Peer Chat – Student Association of NorQuest College
  • Parasport Exhibition - Inclusion Fusion
  • Student support services
  • Inclusive Post-Secondary Education
  • Alberta’s first Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program for students with hearing impairments