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Queer all year: NAIT launches inclusive staff mentorship program

By Amy St. Amand

NAIT has launched a new pilot program for staff looking to learn more about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The Queers and Peers Mentorship Program, the first of its kind at NAIT, aims to connect folks looking to further their understanding of queer issues and be better allies to the NAIT community with mentors who have lived experience and knowledge of queer issues.

The program started in March and arose out of the desire to make pride “an all-year thing, not just like a one-week thing,” said Project Lead Andy King.“There’s a lot of opportunities for educational [equity, diversity, and inclusion] type events [at NAIT], but not so much for the relational, conversational end of things, so I think this is meeting a really interesting need too.”

According to the news post announcing the initiative, the goal of pairing a staff mentee with a staff mentor is “to foster one-to-one, confidential conversations that lead to reflection and growth in a safe, supportive environment.” Mentees may be instructors looking to relate better to their students, learn how to be more inclusive, or could even be questioning their own identity.

This sort of person-to-person learning will create a safer space to ask uncomfortable questions, said King. “I know a lot of people are worried about saying the wrong things or asking the wrong questions and I think that this can help limit that pressure a little bit.”

“When people can have one-on-one conversations with each other as human beings, it can help reduce some of the stigma,” said King. “Even if one just person has their understanding increase and their biases maybe decrease, I think that would be an excellent outcome.”

The program will wrap up in June with another session hopefully starting in winter. Currently only staff can sign up, but King is hopeful the program may expand to include students in the future.

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