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Tips for turning your words into gestures of inclusion

A man in a white t-shirt wearing a hat that says "Love Your Neighbour" sits outdoors on a sunny day with people visible in the background.

Let's talk inclusion

Earlier this year, SAIT launched our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy. The strategy is full of great ways to help make our institution more inclusive, with specific pillars to guide us over the next five years — from developing new training and toolkits to reexamining spaces and processes on campus.

But here’s the thing — a more inclusive campus isn’t the pot of gold at the end of a five-year rainbow. We can all start being more inclusive today.

Communicating in a way that’s inclusive of race, gender, ability and other diverse backgrounds is a skill anyone can gain through education and practice.

"Words matter — the phrases and terminology we choose have an impact in everyday interactions and in the workplace,” says John Partington, Associate Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “Approaching language with mindfulness demonstrates awareness, empathy, compassion and a level of professionalism."

Here are just a few inclusive habits you can start building now.

Choose words and phrases for all

“How’s it going, guys?”

“Stand for what’s right.”

“Turn a blind eye.”

You’ve likely heard these or similar phrases countless times — and maybe even used them yourself. Even when used with the best intentions, certain words can be damaging and leave others feeling excluded.

Ableism is any kind of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities and can manifest as offensive language. Using a term like “stand” in a metaphor sends the message that strength and support is synonymous with the ability to stand — substitute the word “support” instead. “Turning a blind eye” draws a comparison between blindness and ignorance — “ignore” is a more inclusive alternative.

“Guys” is a gendered greeting and may send a message about who is or isn’t included. Swap it out for a gender-inclusive term like “everyone”, “all” or even “folks.”

Be mindful of pronouns

Pronouns are often used when referring to someone without using their name. For gender non-conforming, non-binary and transgender people, commonly used pronouns like "he" and "she" may not fit and have harmful effects.

Learning someone's personal pronouns is a sign of respect and shows you care about making them feel welcome.

Contribute to a more inclusive environment by including your own pronouns in your email signature, display name on virtual calls and social profiles such as Instagram and LinkedIn if you're comfortable doing so. Connect with Pride at SAIT to learn more.

Acknowledge traditional territories

Whether hosting a small meeting, organizing a large public event or simply sending an email, consider including a land acknowledgement in your communication.

SAIT’s land acknowledgement is a statement intended to give respect to the First Nations that were the traditional caretakers of the land, provide education around the history of the land, and in the spirit of reconciliation, maintain good relations with all Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) peoples.

Below is SAIT’s historical acknowledgement — add it to your email signature.

Oki, Amba'wastitch, Danit'ada, Tân'si, Hello. We would like to acknowledge that SAIT is situated on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy. The City of Calgary encompasses a region that the Blackfoot tribes of Southern Alberta described as Moh’kinsstis, meaning ‘Elbow,’ in reference to its location at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Since time immemorial, this region was a traditional gathering place for the tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy. We are meeting/gathered on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, which, today encompasses the Indigenous people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta: the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina, the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, the Northwest Métis Homeland – Region 3.

Learn more about land acknowledgements, check out the Indigenous Learner Success Strategy and connect with the Chinook Lodge Resource Centre.

It’s not just what you say…

How you present information is just as important as the words you use.

When posting to social media or sending emails, check your content for accessibility. How might someone listening to the text read aloud by a screen reader experience it?

You know the ‘face with closed eyes and stuck out tongue’ emoji? That’s exactly how it’s read aloud by a screen reader — so use emojis sparingly.

Here are a few other ways to be inclusive on social media.

Moving forward, together

Building an inclusive campus is a shared responsibility. Read SAIT’s EDI Strategy and find related training opportunities and resources on sait.ca. Let us know how you’ll action the strategy by contacting inclusion@sait.ca.  

 

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