In 2018, Tamara Seebara presented the Inclusive Employer of the Year award to Jamie Sabler-French of Cineplex Cinemas in Abbotsford. Mayor Henry Braun will present the 2019 award at the Inclusive Employer Excellence Awards on Oct. 30. Photo by Dale Klippenstein

Event to be held in Abbotsford to honour inclusive employers

Awards breakfast on Oct. 30 hosted by Archway and Communitas

Archway Community Services and Communitas Supportive Care Society hold the third annual Inclusive Employer Excellence Awards on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The awards honour employers who make it a part of their business plan to hire people living with diverse abilities.

Invited guests will hear first-hand testimonials from employers who hire inclusively and employees whose lives have been impacted by the opportunity to have meaningful work.

The keynote address will be shared by two inclusive employers – Craig Richmond, the president and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, and Lisa Beecroft, owner of Gabi and Jules, Handmade Pies, a bakery in Port Moody.

Richmond said that the stigma around people living with disabilities might be one of the last conscious biases that employers have.

“When a young person comes through the door and has an obvious disability, you initially say, ‘This is going to be hard.’ I’m here to say it is not,” he said.

RELATED: 2017 Inclusive Employer Excellene Award recipients

RELATED: 2018 Inclusive Employer Excellence Award recipients

Beecroft named her bakery after her daughters, the eldest of whom lives with autism. Many of the individuals they hire also live with autism, which she views as an asset.

“Not only do they have value, they bring unique value to the team,” she said.

Heather O’Brien, Archway’s manager of Community Living, said inclusive employers should be recognized for their efforts because of the huge impact they make on people with diverse abilities.

“Having meaningful work promotes feelings of acceptance, knowing that he or she is a valued employee contributing to their community,” she said.

Matt Dirks, program director with Communitas, points out that inclusive employment is not about charity but about matching a potential employee with the job that matches their skill-set.

“In this way, inclusive hiring is actively combating stereotypes, stigmas, and assumptions that have become embedded in our conceptions about who is able to work.”

Along with the keynote address and testimonials, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun will be in attendance and will make one of several presentations.

Entertainment will be provided by Stand Up for Mental Health.

The invitation-only breakfast takes place at the Abbotsford Legacy Sports Centre from 7:30 to 10 a.m.

Business owners who are interested in attending the event or learning more about inclusive hiring can call 778-245-2518 or 778-908-2069 or email IEEA.Abbotsford@gmail.com.

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