Aug. 30, 2016

Calgary Pride parade a reminder there is still work to be done

Valerie Pruegger, UCalgary's director of diversity, reflects on the importance of supporting Pride Week activities
Valerie Pruegger, director of the University of Calgary's Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD) says participating in Pride events is part of the commitment to making our city, and our campus, a better place for everyone who comes here.

Valerie Pruegger, director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

As the University of Calgary gears up to join in the annual Calgary Pride parade on Sept. 4, Valerie Pruegger, PhD, director of the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD), shares her thoughts on why it’s important to celebrate and promote equality and diversity.

Q: How does ODEPD’s mandate align with the community mission of Calgary Pride?

A: Like Calgary Pride, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD) is dedicated to fostering an inclusive and welcoming campus community here at UCalgary. To achieve this, we all must be willing to listen respectfully to different points of view, accept the differences that make us unique as individuals and groups, and champion social justice for those who may still be on the margins.

We have seen many changes in our society over the past few decades, including welcoming new Canadians from every part of the world who each bring rich cultural traditions and diverse perspectives to our social mosaic. We have seen the rise of discussions around what it means to truly give space to a wide variety of faith traditions and practices. In the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, we are seeing a new dialogue with Indigenous communities emerge, one that holds hope for the future. Technology and a growing understanding of disability issues has led to universal design principles and better integration of people with disabilities into the community.

Q: So many advances have been made in recognizing the value of diversity and the right to equality but it seems there’s still work to be done.

A: The LGBTQ communities, like those mentioned above, have come a long way towards societal acceptance, thanks to activists within the communities and allies who have courageously fought for equality and created awareness around gender and sexual identities. But, we have seen in the wake of recent tragic events and continued negative (and often inaccurate) discourse from political, religious and other community leaders, that we still have a long road ahead before all human beings are afforded their inherent human rights.

Q: Why does UCalgary participate in Calgary Pride celebrations?

A: Calgary Pride, and the parade, is an opportunity for us to reflect on the struggles of this community, to celebrate its achievements and to show support for the challenges ahead. ODEPD is proud to be in attendance alongside many others from campus to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring a safe and respectful space, on- and off-campus, for all members of our university family and our greater community.

We invite our entire community to join us on Sept. 4 to walk together, to show our commitment to making our city, and our campus, a better place for everyone who comes here.

Valerie Pruegger began a five-term as director of the University of Calgary’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Protected Disclosure (ODEPD) on Sept. 2, 2014.

Launched in Feb. 2014, the ODEPD has a broad mandate. In addition to working to address systemic issues and offering workshops on a variety of equity and diversity issues, the ODEPD provides all members of the university community with an independent and confidential environment to report allegations and concerns that fall under any policies related to diversity, equity or protected disclosure.

Visit the ODEPD website for more information on the office’s initiatives and the resources and events it offers.