Diversity Education Sessions
Bow Valley College
The Diversity Education Sessions are intercultural competency training exercises that Calgary Police Services (CPS) conducts with its recruits in conjunction with Bow Valley College (BVC). During the session, the learners watch a video depicting a crime, and then break off into groups to be interviewed by police recruits. CPS leaders and BVC instructors observe the interviews and provide feedback during the debrief sessions, such as reminding recruits about the importance of keeping their language simple and direct when communicating with these witnesses.
As Calgary’s population has dramatically increased over several decades, so too has the diverse social composition of the city. The vision and leadership of BVC and CPS proactively anticipated the need for law enforcement to be equipped with the resources and training to promote harmonious police-citizen interaction with Calgary’s growing immigrant and newcomer communities. We mobilized our shared resources to equip new recruits and immigrant learners with intercultural and diversity competency skills to become community partners, resulting in the creation of the Diversity Education Sessions.
To reach a broader diverse group, the Diversity Education Sessions’ goals are to deepen the viewpoint of law enforcement officials as community allies, promoting intercultural competencies and showcasing the benefits derived from diversity.
Since 1986, the BVC and CPS proactively identified the needs of local community agencies to effectively serve Calgary’s growing immigrant and newcomer communities. Due to the integral nature of law enforcement, the College partnered with CPS to produce the Diversity Education Sessions to aid new recruits’ training on how to work within the language barriers of immigrants to Calgary while maintaining culturally sensitivity. The program also provides an opportunity for immigrant learners that may have a suspicious view of law enforcement in their home counties to gain a sense of trust and familiarity with Calgary Police Services.
Making a Difference:
The Diversity Education Sessions serve as an opportunity for Calgary Police’s recruits to refine their intercultural communication skills - creating a systemic impact which advances positive intercultural relations. The significance of the Diversity Education Sessions being a part of CPS’ onboarding training for three decades demonstrates their commitment to promoting diversity and intercultural competence as a part of their organizational culture.
The main challenges have been:
• Learners can be challenging as many may come from countries where police are corrupt or dangerous;
• Over three decades there have been numerous personnel changes at the Police Service and the College, maintaining continuity of the program requires vigilance and commitment
• Training needs for recruits have changed over the years.
To address these challenges, program coordinators assess each session’s impact based on the feedback from ELL learner participants and new recruits to ensure continual improvement and training relevance. Participants’ recommendations are gathered and analyzed to advance the program’s planning, implementation and management.
Vision for the Future:
BVC and CPS’ vision is to continue building upon the Diversity Education Sessions by applying the collaborative framework and learning principles for additional opportunities to advance diversity and harmonious intercultural relations. Over the years, both organizations have collaborated to advance Interpreter programs in Calgary and on the College’s Justice Studies program. As the College’s Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement moves forward, the Centre’s vision would be to apply similar diversity and intercultural training in partnership with other vital community support agencies which new Canadians will encounter.
The Diversity Education Sessions create a unique learning opportunity between new police recruits and newcomers to advance intercultural competencies and remove stereotypes held by either group. The outcomes of this initiative creates numerous individual and systemic changes that transforms law enforcement officials and newcomers’ worldviews. The main outcome of this initiative is to foster a sense of trust and intercultural awareness through creating an opportunity for over 2100 police recruits and 2250 immigrant learners who engaged in vital community dialogue to build bridges between Calgary’s newcomers and law enforcement.
About Bow Valley College
Over 350,000 people have enhanced their personal and working lives by attending Bow Valley College. Operating in Calgary and throughout the surrounding region, the College’s multi-campus college provides broad programming, including certificates, diplomas, foundational learning, and upgrading programs.