By Keba Walters, Assistant Manager, Recruitment (RES/CIC)

This February 2022, Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee hosted yet another successful Black History Month Roundtable. As the second annual event in this space, the roundtable focused on building on the discussions from the previous year’s event, which was fantastically hosted by Melicia Gregory, our D&I Employee Chair.

Last year’s roundtable focused on the lived experiences of Black-identifying employees at ASP and coming into awareness of the histories, stories, and lingering discrimination faced by Black Canadians. This year, hosted by our newly appointed D&I Employer Chair, Keba Walters, the conversation furthered the discussion regarding the experiences specific to ASP, how ASP management views these topics, and what their responsibility is to provide a safe and equitable space for their Black employees.

We received a lot of feedback regarding bias, and how micro-aggressions can come from various communities, whether it’s intentional or not. Overall, it was another year of valuable learning and togetherness.

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee works to ensure that these roundtables are not only outlets for employees of protected groups to share their experiences, but are also platforms to uplift our employees and create action. Whether you’re interested in sharing or simply interested in learning about the experiences and lives of your fellow ASP coworkers, we encourage all employees to join us. The goal is to create a better ASP for all.

What’s Up Next in Diversity & Inclusion?

Stay tuned for details about Asian heritage Month! We will be welcoming employees to share their experiences from all over the Asian diaspora. Come to share and learn about history, holidays, favourite foods, similarities and differences between cultures, and to celebrate our diverse Asian community here at ASP. See you soon!

By Sarah Jessop, HR Generalist

At ASP, we value and recognize the diverse religious beliefs of our employees. The world’s rich diversity is reflected in the observances that are celebrated and recognized by our ASP employees.

Knowledge of the following holidays and celebrations can enhance our workplace diversity and inclusion efforts. Throughout the months of January, February, and March a variety of religious holidays, festivals, observances, and spiritual commemorations took place. These events were celebrated and observed by many of us, so it is important that we recognize and respect each and every one of them.

We have compiled a list below of the many important religious events that took place throughout the last few months. We encourage you to review this list to learn more about some of the significant celebrations and observances that are meaningful to your colleagues and friends. Let’s celebrate diversity, together.

January 2022

  • January 6 – Feast of the Epiphany: The day that commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles for Christians. It is celebrated on January 6th as it marks 12 days after Christmas when the three kings arrived in Bethlehem.
  • January 7 – Coptic Orthodox Christmas: The date that Orthodox Christians celebrate Jesus’s birth in the Julian calendar.
  • January 10 – Bodhi Day: This day celebrates the Buddha’s enlightenment; it is celebrated by Mahãyãna Buddhists.
  • January 14 – Orthodox New Year: The “Old New Year” celebrates the start of the Julian calendar.
  • January 13 – Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh’s Birthday: The date used to celebrate the tenth Sikh Guru and spiritual master.
  • January 16 – World Religion Day: A day in the Baha’i faith that celebrates common themes for faiths across the world.

February 2022

  • February 1 – Imbolc: The halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox in the Pagan and Wiccan calendars. This day celebrates fire, light, and the return of life.
  • February 2 – Candlemas:
    A holiday in the Christian church that blesses the candle supply for that year.
  • February 15 – Parinirvana: Also known as Nirvana Day in Mahãyãna Buddhism, this date marks Buddha’s death and attainment of final nirvana.
  • February 17 – Tu Bishvat:
    The “New Year of Trees” in the Jewish faith.
  • February 25 – Festival of Ayyam-i-Ha: A multiple-day festival in the Baha’i faith that prioritizes gift-giving, hospitality, charity, and preparation for fasting ahead of the New Year.

March 2022

  • March 1 – Maha Shiravatri:
    A Hindu festival called “Shiva’s night” which honors this significant deity.
  • March 1 – Lailat al Miraj: A Muslim holiday commemorating Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem where he ascended into heaven.
  • March 3 – Ash Wednesday:
    The day in the Christian Church that marks the start of Lent, the 40-day period of prayer and fasting before Easter.
  • March 17 – Purium: The Feast of Lots in the Jewish faith that honors the survival of ancient Persian Jews who were marked for death.
  • March 17 to March 18 – Holi: A Hindu festival of colors that welcomes spring and a new harvest in India.
  • March 18 to March 20 – Hola Mohalla: The 3-day Sikh festival honoring valor, skill, and defense preparedness.
  • March 19 – Feast Day of St. Joseph: A day that commemorates the husband of Jesus’s mother Mary and surrogate father on Earth.
  • March 20 – Ostara: The celebration of the spring equinox in the Pagan and Wiccan religions.
  • March 21 – Naw Ruz: The New Year for the Baha’i faith, marking the end of the Baha’i fast.
  • March 25 – The Annunciation: The day in the Christian religion when the Angel Gabriel announced that Mary would become the mother of Jesus.

By Debbie Ciccotelli, Vice President, Strategic Innitiative

As ASP’s workforce is culturally diverse, it is important that we ensure inclusivity while maintaining the importance of religious holidays to those who celebrate them. As we celebrate the season, it’s easy to assume that everyone celebrates the same way we do. As we interact with people in our workplace and community, it is important to learn how others celebrate the season. By learning about our differences, we get closer to one other and get opportunities for exciting real life lessons in geography, culture, history, and religion. It’s true that holiday traditions around the world have much in common, especially as cultures mix and influence one another in our globally connected world. Yet there is also rich diversity in celebrations and traditions old and new. The season’s meaning becomes broader and more vivid as it expands to include more cultures and traditions. Did you know that people celebrate more than Christmas during the holiday season in Canada? By holiday season I mean the period starting from fall to early January. Well, I say, the more the merrier! Here are other celebrations this season you may want to know more about:

Diwali (Hindu)

Although Diwali is celebrated a bit earlier in the year in October or November (exact dates depend on the moon cycle). This year Diwali was celebrated on November 4th; it is considered an autumn and winter holiday by many of those who observe it. Diwali is considered the festival of lights, is India’s biggest holiday, and is celebrated by millions of Hindus around the world. It is a five-day holiday of lights. That celebrates the victory of light over darkness or the triumph of good over evil. Hindus also take advantage of this period to contemplate and dispel the darkness of ignorance. As a symbolic gesture, they display diyas which are small clay oil lamps or candle holders

Bodhi Day (Buddhist) In the Buddhist culture, Bodhi Day is a celebration of enlightenment and a day for remembrance, meditation, and chanting. This commemorates the exact moment of Buddha’s awakening (under the peepal tree which is now known as Bodhi). The exact date of celebration varies: Theravada Buddhists use the lunar calendar, Mahayana Buddhists go by the Chinese lunar calendar, while Japan Bodhi Day is set on December 8 every year. At the start of Bodhi day, people decorate a Ficus tree with multi[1]coloured lights strung with beads to symbolize the varied paths to Nirvana (their ultimate state/goal) and signifies that all things are united.

Hanukkah (Jewish)

 Hanukkah is an 8-day Jewish celebration also known as the Festival of Lights that commemorates rededication and purification of the temple after the Jew’s victory over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. This year, Hanukkah will be celebrated from the evening of November 28 to December 6 in 2021. The most well-known symbol of this celebration is the menorah, which is a type of candelabra. One candle is lit each day during Hanukkah. The menorah represents a miracle for the Jewish people. During the battle, the Temple’s candelabrum burned for eight straight days and nights using an amount of oil meant for a single day.

 Winter Solstice (Various Cultures/ Religions) Many cultures all over the world celebrated (and continue to celebrate) winter solstice even before Christmas came to be. In fact, the term Yule was derived from an old European holiday held at the start of the solar year known as the celebration of Light and the Rebirth of the Sun. In the northern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice, falls around December 21. It marks the beginning of winter and the coming of cold, harsh days, but it also marks the beginning of the sun’s return as the days begin gradually to lengthen. Since many so-called Christmas traditions emerged from pagan practices, learning about the winter solstice teaches about history and culture.

Other winter solstice celebrations include:

  • Feast of Juul (Scandinavian) – A pre-Christian festival celebrated in December. On this day, a yule log is burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god, Thor.
  • Yalda (Persia/Iran) – Also called Shab –e-Yalda, it marks the last day of the Persian month of Azar during ancient times. It commemorates the victory of light over dark and the birth of the sun god Mithra
  • Saturnalia (ancient Roman) – Aside from winter solstice, Saturnalia celebrates the end of the planting season. It was marked by games, feasts, and gift-giving for several days.
  • St. Lucia’s Day (Scandinavian) – On this day, girls dress up in white gowns with red sashes and wreaths of candles on their heads to honor the saint. It is also called the festival of lights as people light up fires to ward off spirits at night.
  • Dong Zhi (Chinese) – Dong Zhi celebrates the end of harvest and the arrival of winter. In the traditional Chinese celestial calendar, this falls between the 21st and 23rd of December. Families gather together to enjoy a feast in celebration.
  • Gody (Poland) – This is the tradition of showing forgiveness and sharing food. It was part of pre[1]Christian winter solstice celebrations.
  • Chaomos (Kalasha, Pakistan) – Kalasha or Kalash Kafir people celebrate for at least seven days. It involves ritual baths for purification, singing and chanting, a torchlight procession, dancing, bonfires, and feasts.
  • St. Thomas Day/Sun God festival (Guatemala) – December 21 is the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle. Mayan Indians also hold a festival honoring the sun god on this day. It is celebrated with fanfare including colourful parades and the daring flying pole dance in Peru.

Pancha Ganapati (Hindu)

From December 21 – 25, many Hindus celebrate Pancha Ganapati, and hold a five-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture and new beginnings. Pancha Ganapati was created in 1985 by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, as a Hindu alternative to December holidays like Christmas. During each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, a special sadhana, spiritual discipline, is focused upon by the entire family where they work together to mend past mistakes and bring His blessings of joy and harmony into five realms of their life, and they conclude by extolling one another’s best qualities. Pancha Ganapati includes outings, feasts and exchange of cards and gifts with relatives, friends, and business associates. A shrine is created in the main living room of the home and decorated in the spirit of this festive occasion. At the center is placed a large wooden or bronze statue of Lord Panchamukha (“five-faced”) Ganapati, a form of Ganesha. Any large picture or statue of Ganesha will also do. Each morning the children decorate and dress Him in the colour of that day, representing one of His five rays of energy, or shaktis

Kwanzaa (African)

Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday but a celebration of African heritage and culture that eventually ends with a large feast and gift giving. Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. It is a seven-day celebration (December 26 to January 1) that features the lighting of the kinara each day, similar to the lighting of the menorah during Hanukkah. Each day is represented by a principle of Kwanzaa: 1st – Umoja (unity), 2nd – kujichagulia (self-determination), 3rd – ujima (collective work and responsibility), 4th – ujamaa (cooperative economics), 5th – nia (purpose), 6th – kuumba (creativity), and 7th – imani (faith).

New Year’s (secular)

New Year’s Eve, December 31, marks the last day in the Gregorian calendar. It is a night of merry making marked with fireworks, parties, and feasts. Many people also observe rituals that are thought to give them good luck and help them start an auspicious year like serving certain food to bring wealth and making noise with fireworks to drive off bad spirits.

Three King’s Day (Christian)

Also known as Epiphany, this marks the day the Three Wise Men visited the Christ child and brought him gifts. Christians celebrate this on the first Sunday after January 1. In Hispanic cultures, this is a day of gift-giving and other festivities

Orthodox Christmas

Members of the Orthodox Church celebrate Jesus’ birth a week after December 25th and after all our usual celebrations have died down. They celebrate Christmas on January 7th or near this date. Why? It’s a difference in calendars. Those who celebrate Christmas on December 25th are using the Gregorian calendar introduced in 1582. Those who were still using the Julian calendar (much of the Soviet Bloc and the Middle East) celebrate Christmas 13 days later. While most of these countries now follow the Gregorian calendar, many still observe religious holidays on the Julian dates. Traditionally, Orthodox Christians begin with a 40-day period of fasting before Christmas. After the Christmas eve mass, families celebrate with feasts, joyful caroling, and other traditions. Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox faiths prepare 12 traditional dishes representing Christ’s apostles. Ukrainian households also throw a spoonful of Kutia (a traditional dish made of wheat, honey, and poppy seeds) up in the air to know what the year has in store for them. The more Kutia is stuck to the walls or ceiling, the more prosperous the year would be.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is observed in many countries that follow lunar calendars, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Malaysia, and more. Lunar New Year can be celebrated in January, February, March, April, September, or November, depending on the lunar calendar, but February and April are the most common times. Lunar New Year traditions vary from culture to culture. Some examples include exchanging red envelopes or silk pouches containing money, setting off fireworks, playing games, eating traditional dishes, cleaning the house, and holding parades with colourful costumes. Chinese New Year marks the end of winter and the start of spring. It usually falls between January 21 and February 20 based on the lunar calendar (February 1 in 2022). The first day of celebration starts with the New Moon and ends on the Full Moon 15 days later. People indulge in feasts, watch dragon and lion dances and parades, light fireworks, and distribute luck money in red envelopes to children.

Ramadan (Muslim)

Ramadan is a month of daily fasting during daylight hours. It culminates in Eid-al-Fitr when they break the fast. The period is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar, which is why it falls on different dates each year. It was observed from the evening of April 12 to May 11 in 2021. The next time it will be in December to January will be in 2030. Aside from fasting, Muslims also give up bad habits during the season, pray more, read the Quran, and attend services. Eid-al-Fitr is a time of celebration with the family, giving gifts and doing charitable works.


Omisoka is the Japanese New Year, and like the Western version of New Year’s, is celebrated on December 31st. It is considered one of the most important holidays in Japanese culture, second only to January 1st, known as Shogatsu or Japanese New Year’s Day. Celebrating the close of the old year and ushering in the new one, Japanese people often celebrate with a giant feast, cleaning the house from top to bottom to prepare for the new year, sending post cards and gifts to family and friends on January 2nd and hosting Bonenkai parties, intended to help forget about the past year. Many families make rice cakes as part of the celebration, and homes are decorated with a sacred Shinto straw rope. The holiday season is a great time to explore how different cultures express their values, beliefs, and customs. Celebrating workplace diversity, especially around the holidays, helps to build an understanding and awareness of other cultural practices and to reflect on our own. There’s nothing better than showing your coworkers that you care about and respect them by celebrating the holidays and traditions their families also follow. Learning about holidays from other cultures, is a wonderful way to establish awareness, appreciation, and acceptance of our differences. Regardless of your personal background and beliefs, the holiday season is a special time which is about enjoying spending time with family, friends and colleagues which makes this is the perfect time of year to focus on gratitude, appreciation, and thankfulness, both at home and in the workplace.

ASP wishes all of our employees and their families a joyous and safe 2021/22 holiday season!!

By Sarah Jessop, Secretary, Diversity and Inclusion


In late 2021, the ASP Diversity and Inclusion committee
launched our second annual Diversity and Inclusion
Survey to inform our 2022 initiatives. We’d like to thank
everyone who took the time to participate, as you have
once again provided us with constructive feedback on how
our culture fosters an inclusive environment where people
of all backgrounds can thrive.
We chose to launch this survey for a second year in a
row because the feedback you provided us in 2020 was
essential in driving our 2021 decision-making. You may
recall some of the initiatives we launched last year in
response to your feedback, such as roundtables held for
Black History Month, Asian Heritage Month, Pride
Month and the launch of our revised ASP Workplace
Harassment, Violence and Bullying Prevention Policy
and Anti Discrimination Policy. A snapshot of our 2021
Diversity and Inclusion Survey results are outlined below
in comparison with the 2020 survey. This year, you can
expect to see changes and brand-new initiatives based on
the opinions you voiced!

2020 vs. 2021 Diversity and Inclusion
Survey Results

We are thrilled to say that our participation rate increased
by 10% this year. The 2021 results show that we have
made steady progress in most areas, with room to improve
as we move into 2022.

In my organization, I can be successful as my
authentic self:

  • 2021 – 81% agree
  • 2020 – 77% agree

ASP management appropriately responds to

  • 2021 – 81% agree
  • 2020 – 80% agree

People of all cultures, backgrounds, and identities are valued here:

  • 2021 – 80% agree*
  • 2020 – 82% agree
  • Our D&I Committee will make this a focus for 2022. The comments you shared in the 2021 survey have helped us understand what needs to be improved. When I speak up at work, my opinion is valued:
  • 2021 – 69% agree
  • 2020 – 67% agree

*Although we have improved by 2% in this area, we know more work
needs to be done to show you that your voice matters.
Within ASP, everyone has access to equal opportunities
regardless of their diverse background.

  • 2021 – 80% agree
  • 2020 – 78% agree

Your Comments

The comments you share with us in the Diversity and
Inclusion Survey are one of the most valuable tools for
our committee. They provide us with your insight on how
ASPs day-to-day operations impact feelings of fairness,
belonging, and voice.

They also give you an opportunity to provide our
committee with some great suggestions on how we can
continue to improve. Below are some of your comments
on what we are doing well, and what we need to focus on
in 2022:

“The leaders give equal opportunity and motivation to
express your comments in meetings”
“Discrimination is not strongly emphasized during
trainings or orientation”

“ASP has firm and effective anti-harassment, anti-violence,
and anti-bullying policies…

“A suggestion would be to visit more sites and give positive

“ASP provides equal employment opportunities”

“…put more efforts into gender equality and monitor work
locations to identify and address discrimination issues that
employees may be reluctant to report”

“Diversity and inclusion are a continual effort; I think ASP
has come a long way!”

Next Steps

Our Diversity and Inclusion committee has heard what
you have to say. We are now designing our 2022 initiatives
so that they align with your feedback. Please keep an eye
out for more information on these projects throughout
the year.

New members in the ASP D&I Committee

We are expanding our membership of the ASP D&I
Committee as we begin our second year. Please join us in
welcoming the new members in the committee. We look
forward to your contribution and involvement and are
confident that your inputs will support the committee’s
mission and purpose.

  • Keba Walters, Asst Manager, Recruitment
  • Langelihle Lissa Ncube, HR Coordinator
  • Gillian Byron, OSR at Pearson Airport
  • Mohamad Miah, Terminal Patrol at YYC

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact
the committee at With
your help, we can continue improving the diversity and
inclusion experience for all employees at ASP.

By Sarah Jessop, Secretary for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee (She/Her)

n June 2021, ASP’s Diversity and Inclusion committee ran our first ever Pride Month roundtable. This event was organized to celebrate ASP’s LGBTQ2S+ employees and their allies, and to address and understand the various issues LGBTQ2S+ individuals face in the workplace. I had the pleasure of co-chairing this roundtable with two remarkably special guests, Christine and Tanner Parkinson. Tanner, like me, identifies as an LGBTQ2S+ individual, and his mother Christine has publicly come forward as an advocate for our community. When I say they publicly demonstrate their commitment I truly mean it – Christine and Tanner were both interviewed by CTV News and CHCH in May 2021 after their Pride flag was stolen from their front lawn.

We kicked off the roundtable by discussing how acts of discrimination and harassment, both inside and outside of the workplace, have personally impacted many of us. Our attendees demonstrated bravery and vulnerability by sharing their own experiences with the group. This discussion led to some fantastic brainstorming and key takeaways that our Diversity and Inclusion committee will consider when designing inclusion initiatives.

LGTBTQS+ Pronouns & Terminology

One important topic of conversation that was raised during the roundtable was the importance of understanding and respecting LGBTQ2S+ pronouns and terminology. It’s important to note that these definitions are continuously changing, and they simply serve as a starting point in understanding LGBTQ2S+ identities and issues. If you ever have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our diversity and inclusion committee for more information:


Pronouns are used in place of a proper noun, and we often use them when we are referring to someone without using their name. In English, the most common pronouns we use refer to one’s gender. For non-binary, transgender, gender non-conforming and queer people, these pronouns may not fit, and mistaking or assuming someone’s pronouns without asking first can be harmful.

Imagine if someone referred to you with the wrong pronoun – this would be upsetting, especially if you’ve corrected them already before.

You should never assume you know someone’s gender just by looking at them, and you should always respect the pronouns they select. Some of the most commonly used pronouns include, but are not limited to:

  • He/Him
  • She/Her
  • They/Them
  • Ze
  • Name – some people prefer their name being used in
  • place of pronouns.


The below terms are defined by the Government of Canada, and they provide a basic understanding of LGBTQ2S+ terminology. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and these terms could change in the future.


An inclusive term most commonly used in Canada. It stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Two-Spirit and additional sexual orientations and gender identities.


A person who identifies with the gender they are assigned at birth.


A person who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to people of their same sex or gender identity. Traditionally this identity was reserved for men, but it has been adopted by people of all gender identities.


A person whose gender identity varies over time and may include male, female and non-binary gender identities.


Typically a woman who is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other women.


(also ‘genderqueer’). Referring to a person whose gender identity does not align with a binary understanding of gender such as man or woman.

It is a gender identity which may include man and woman, androgynous, fluid, multiple, no gender, or a different gender outside of the “woman—man” spectrum.


A person whose choice of sexual or romantic partner is not limited by the other person’s sex, gender identity or gender expression.


Historically a derogatory term used as a slur against LGBTQ2 people, this term has been reclaimed by many LGBTQ2 people as a positive way to describe themselves, and as a way to include the many diverse identities not covered by common LGBTQ2 acronym.


A person who is uncertain about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity; this can be a transitory or a lasting identity.

Gender Expression:

Gender expression refers to the various ways in which people choose to express their gender identity. For example: clothes, voice, hair, make-up, etc. A person’s gender expression may not align with societal expectations of gender. It is therefore not a reliable indicator of a person’s gender identity.

Gender Identity:

Internal and deeply felt sense of being a man or woman, both or neither. A person’s gender identity may or may not align with the gender typically associated with their sex. It may change over the course of one’s lifetime.


(also ‘trans’). A person whose gender identity differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.


(also Two Spirit or Two-Spirited). An English term used to broadly capture concepts traditional to many Indigenous cultures. It is a culturally-specific identity used by some Indigenous people to indicate a person whose gender identity, spiritual identity and/or sexual orientation comprises both male and female spirits.

Closing Thoughts

The goal of our Diversity and Inclusion committee is to continue making ASP an inclusive environment where all employees are respected, valued, and given every opportunity succeed. Our June 2021 Pride Month Roundtable was instrumental in helping us achieve this goal. We encourage all of our employees, regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, to consider how you can be an ally to your LGBTQ2S+ coworkers. Addressing your colleagues by their chosen pronouns and not making assumptions about them is a great place to start. If you have any questions about LGBTQ2S+ terminology or issues, please contact our committee at

By Sarah Jessop, Secretary for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee (She/Her)

At ASP, we value and recognize the diverse religious beliefs of our employees. The world is rich in diversity and so is our workforce, which is reflected in the observances celebrated by its various cultures. Knowledge of the following diversity holidays and celebrations can enhance our workplace diversity and inclusion efforts. Throughout the months of July, August and September 2021 a variety of religious holidays, festivals, observances, and spiritual commemorations took place. These events were celebrated and observed by many of us, so it is important that we recognize and respect each and every one of them. We have compiled a list below of the many important religious events that took place throughout the last few months. We encourage you to review this list to learn more about some of the significant celebrations and observances that are meaningful to your colleagues and friends. Let’s celebrate diversity, together.

July 2021

  • July 9 – Baha’i: Martyrdom of the Bab – commemorates the execution of the co-founder of the Baha’i faith, the Bab
  • July 17 -22 – Islamic: The Hajj – annual pilgrimage that all Muslims must make to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once
  • July 18 – Jewish: Tisha B’Av – this holiday commemorates the destruction of the Jewish temple in both 586 BCE and 70 CE in Jerusalem
  • July 19 – 23 – Islamic: Eid al-Adha – a Muslim celebration marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage
  • July 23 – Rastafarian: Birthday of Haile Selassie – celebrates Emperor Haile Selassie, who was believed to be the incarnation of God

August 2021

  • August 1 – Pagan and Wiccan: Lughnasadh – festival marking the beginning of the harvest season
  • August 10 – Islamic: Islamic New Year – Also called Hijiri, this day marks the beginning of the Islamic lunar calendar and begins at the sighting of the crescent moon
  • August 15 – Roman Catholic: Feast of the Assumption – a holy day that commemorates the Virgin Mary’s bodily ascension to Heaven
  • August 30 – Hindu: Krishna Janmashtami – an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

September 2021

  • September 4 – 11 – Jain: Paryushana – the most important Jain religious observance, this festival is about forgiveness, with “paryushana” meaning “abiding” or “coming together”
  • September 6 – 8 – Jewish: Rosh Hashanah – celebration of the Jewish New Year that begins at sundown and brings upon a period of reflection for the past year and year to come
  • September 11 – Coptic Orthodox Christian: Nayrouz (Coptic New Year) – a feast day when both martyrs and confessors are commemorated in the church
  • September 16 – Jewish: Yom Kippur – the day of atonement in Judaism where individuals reflect on their sins and seek forgiveness from God
  • September 21 -27 – Jewish: Sukkot – A day that commemorates the years that the Jews journeyed to the desert on their way to the promised land
  • September 20 – October 6 – Hindu: Pitru Paksha – 16-day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors
  • September 21 – Pagan and Wiccan: Mabon – the Autumnal equinox
  • September 28 – Islamic: Arbaeen – A day of religious observance that marks the end of the 40- day mourning period following the Day of Ashura

Do you feel we have missed anything? Let us know! Contact our Diversity and Inclusion committee at

By Sarah Jessop, Secretary for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee (She/Her)

In the year 2020, a series of unconscionable events publicly uncovered long-standing racial inequities in North America. In February, a young black man named Ahmaud Arbery went for a jog and never returned home to his family. Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, was killed by police officers in her own apartment.

Diversity and Inclusion Committee Employee Chair

The murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was captured on camera in a video that shocked and outraged us all. The Covid-19 pandemic brought about racist attacks against the Asian community, and racial and ethnic minorities were disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 due to a history of systemic racism.

These senseless and tragic events laid bare a hard truth that compelled us to take action. People from all over the world woke up and recognized that sitting idly by and “not being a racist” will not stop racism and discrimination.

In order to make a difference, we must work together and create change through an anti-racism and antidiscrimination lens.

As a result of this, a group of ASP employees and leaders came together in August of 2020 to create our Diversity and Inclusion committee. Our members share the common goal of ensuring that all ASP employees have a seat at the table.

Our purpose is to develop Diversity and Inclusion initiatives that will ensure that all employees are respected, valued and given every opportunity to succeed.

We are focused on equity, which means that we recognize that each person or group has different circumstances and we must allocate resources and opportunities accordingly
to reach an equal outcome.

The committee is co-chaired by Neeru Panjwani, Employer Chair and Melicia Gregory, Employee Chair. To make ourselves easily identifiable to our employees, the Diversity and Inclusion committee created our own logo based on the original ASP branding. Keep an eye out for this logo as you should be able to spot it in all of our past, present, and future communications.

2020-2021 Initiatives

During our first meeting, our committee quickly realized that the voice of our employees will guide our action plan. For this reason, we developed our first initiative – the Diversity and Inclusion Survey.

The Diversity and Inclusion Survey was centred around researched constructs of inclusion, such as fairness, belonging, and voice. It measured your opinion on the degree to which our culture creates an inclusive environment where people of all cultures, background and identities can thrive.

We used your feedback to guide all of the programs we developed and implemented. You may recall the following:

Black History Month Roundtable February 2021

The purpose of the roundtable was to create a safe space for Black ASP employees to come together and share their thoughts and experiences. The event was hosted by Melicia Gregory, the Employee Chair of ASPs Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Melicia, along with many other ASP employees, did an excellent job in celebrating black culture whilst also educating all those in attendance about their lived experiences.

International Women’s Day – May 8, 2021:

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked our women-identifying employees to submit their photo and a message for our newsletter on what it’s like to work at ASP It was wonderful to hear from so many of you across the organization.

Asian Heritage Month Roundtable May 2021

This event was chaired by ASP employee Fanny Tran, PSR at Billy Bishop Airport and guest-host Joanna Zhang, Executive Assistant at the GTAA. During the roundtable, our employees shared their experiences around Asian heritage with the intention of celebrating the contributions made by Asian Canadians. Those in attendance openly discussed the issues that continue to impact many Asian communities today. Like the Black History Month Roundtable, this was a beautiful event that increased awareness and understanding within those who attended.

Mental Health Week – May-3-9, 2021:

During Mental Health Week, we sent out a link to our EAP provider’s (LifeWorks) new website that is all about self-care. The microsite explores why self-care should be part of your routine and how to work it into your daily life, no matter the situation. As a reminder, the link can be found here:

Pride Month – June 2021


In June 2021, ASP’s Diversity and Inclusion committee ran our first ever Pride Month roundtable.

This event was organized to celebrate ASP’s LGBTQ2S+ employees and their allies, and to address and understand the various issues LGBTQ2S+ individuals face in the workplace.

The roundtable was chaired by Christine Parkinson, Tanner Parkinson and Sarah Jessop. For more information, please see the Pride Month Roundtable article that is included in this newsletter.


For the month of June, ASP updated our branding to include the Pride flag rainbow colouring. It is important to mention that ASPs support of the LGBTQ2s+ community goes far beyond one month of recognition. This act simply served as a symbol of our year round allyship.

National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21, 2021:

This year, National Indigenous Day was dedicated to the missing children, the families left behind, and the survivors of residential schools.

ASP stands in solidarity with Indigenous communities across Canada as we continue to mourn this tragedy. In the June 2021 memo that was released by our committee, we asked our Indigenous ASP employees to share their experiences with us.

We’d like anyone reading this newsletter to review the beautiful and poignant article entitled “Wachiya!” that was written by ASP employee Katrina Stachurski. Katrina is a Canine Handler and a proud member of the Indigenous community.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30, 2021

September 30, 2021 was the first formally recognized National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. This day honours the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families and communities.

ASP sent out an informative article in September to educate our employees on the history and significance of this day.

We encourage you all to continue learning more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and stories of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people by visiting the Government of Canada’s website:

Other initiatives included:

  • Implementation of our Workplace Harassment, Violence and Bullying Prevention Policy in 2021
  • Increased email and newsletter communication on behalf of the Diversity and Inclusion committee for important events, holidays, observances and resources
  • Launch of our Diversity and Inclusion Inbox – This provides a direct line of contact between our employees and the committee. It is a great way to ask us questions or make suggestions.

Moving Forward Upcoming 2021 Initiatives

As you can see, our committee was busy over the last year! 2021 isn’t over yet, so please keep an eye out for a few more initiatives coming your way. This includes:

ASP Diversity and Inclusion SelfIdentification Survey

We will be sending out a link to our Self-Identification Survey via ISpring in the near future. By completing this survey, you will be helping our committee capture an accurate picture of our diverse workforce, which will in turn allow us to design and implement thoughtful initiatives that are intended to leverage the diversity in our workplace. Many of you have already discovered and completed this survey as it is showing under your ISpring courses – thank you for being so proactive!

2021 Diversity and Inclusion Survey

In November 2021, we will once again be asking you to complete the Diversity and Inclusion Survey that you answered in 2020. Last years results were critical in helping us design our 2021 initiatives, and so we will use your feedback to guide us into the New Year!

Membership Drive

Do you stand against racism and all forms of discrimination? Are you committed to expanding our inclusion and anti-discrimination practices and policies? If so, we’d love for you to apply for a membership with our committee. We are specifically looking for frontline employees to join the committee as we require more representation and expertise from this area. Please note that as an hourly employee, you would be compensated for any Diversity and Inclusion Committee meetings you attend on your day-off. To find out more, apply to join
through the link below or send an email to Please be sure to share with us why you are passionate on this topic.


If you have any questions for our committee, please do not hesitate to contact us at

By Katrina Stachurski, Canine Handler

Wachiya; Greetings, I hope you all are doing well. Canada recently celebrated National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st. In relation to that, I write you all to share a bit about me and my connection to my native ancestry as I have been so fortunate to do so with the support of our ASP Family in effort of continuing to open our doors of Inclusion & Diversity. From as young as I can remember, I have had a strong connection to my ancestors and to the land. Throughout my childhood, and at times now, I can recall sharing visits with the spirit world through dreams and animal bonds, having been called to ‘walk the land softly’ and to ‘learn the way’. Often when sharing these calls and visits with my loved ones, I was faced with demands of silence and had been shunned for my attempts to learn out of fear for what could come from being misunderstood by outsiders.

Fast-forwarding to my adult-life and looking back to my younger years I can see how clearly the silence I took had broken my spirit. At the age of 16, I began my journey again. Having made many visits to various tribal nations all around the land most know as ‘North America’ but as I have learned to call ‘Turtle Island’. In these journeys, I have been blessed with various teachings to which now have become the foundations of my ‘commitment to life’. I would like to share with you all one way I continue to embrace ‘the way’; through my hair, or as I should say now, lack-there-of. When visiting a Cree family-friend in Manitoba in the summer of 2014, I was taught that our hair, more specifically ‘the braid’ symbolizes our connection to our Ancestors, the Creator, and the Earth. At this time in my life, I had hair that danced just above my hips, and it was then my friend braided my hair telling me that they were preparing me for the possible war I would be facing as this was traditionally something our warriors would braid for too. From there on, I have continued to use my hair as a symbol of my commitment to life and the land. In 2016 at the age of 20, I lost one of closest loved ones, my father. My father was a Polish man, having been born in Poland in the year 1962, making me what people call ‘mixed’; my beautiful mother is where my indigenous nativity comes from as her father is Cree and mother Mi’kmaw. In the loss of my father, as most can understand, I experienced an immense sadness and fear as I realized in this loss how much his name and place in law enforcement sheltered me from a lot the cruelty many of our people have and continue to face today.

Struggling with these feelings, I once again reached out to the elders who have guided me in my journey of learning and asked for a way to break-free from this pain and it was then that I began cutting my hair. I was taught that many of our people cut their hair when there is a death in the immediate family as an outward symbol of the deep sadness and a physical reminder of the loss. The cut hair represents the time with our loved one, which is over and gone, and the new growth is the life after. Throughout the years I have kept the top-portion of my hair, which I have been taught to believe is a symbol of resilience. I embody this symbolism as time-and-time again I have been reminded that the spirit of my warrior ancestors seems to live-on through me and as such, not all that I have or ever will lose will be able to take that spirit away from me.

And so, I say, Hay-hay; thank-you for taking time to share in this teaching and understanding. I hope that all of you may to lead forward in ‘walking the land as softly as you can’, ‘finding your way’ to honouring the Earth and to being resilient to all fear you may face in this lifetime.

By Sarah Northrup, Director - Human Resources

We are proud to have supported the Hillsdale & South Asian Bar Association’s (SABA) goal of raising $30,000 for the Help India Initiative.

A second wave of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc throughout the country. The current surge is overwhelming Indian healthcare infrastructure – patients are not able to access hospital beds and oxygen is in short supply. The loss of life is tragic and catastrophic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of children and families in nearly every country across the globe. Though children make up a very small number of deaths from the coronavirus, the impact on their lives has been devastating.
We are very lucky to be living in Canada with easy access to healthcare and COVID-19 vaccines. ASP encourages all our teammates to take a moment to think about those who are less fortunate. If you wish to make a donation to UNICEF, here is the link. UNICEF has an outstanding track record of managing donations effectively and delivering live saving programs.

ASP also encourages everyone to get a vaccine so we can end this pandemic. If you would like more information on how to get a vaccine or have questions about the vaccines, the link is LINK REQUIRED

What UNICEF is Doing

UNICEF sent 5,000 oxygen concentrators to India in April and May 2021, and 25 medical oxygen generation plants for hospitals are underway. Globally, UNICEF’s Office of Innovation has been focused on oxygen therapy as a key component of its effort to save lives of children. As a result, UNICEF has procured 15,000 oxygen concentrators as part of its COVID-19 response, helping more than 90 countries across the world.

What is an Oxygen Concentrator?

An Oxygen Concentrator is a portable machine that creates oxygen by removing nitrogen from ambient air. In most cases, these portable devices are the best option for remote and/or low resource areas without oxygen plants or cylinder delivery networks. Costing approximately C$1,000 each and with minimal operational expenses, an oxygen concentrator has the potential to save many lives, as countries around the world struggle to flatten the curve.

How ASP’s Donation Helped

The following supplies have been identified as critical by UNICEF:

• Oxygen Concentrators: C$100,000 can provide approximately 100 portable machines and can be distributed across many states in India
• Oxygen Generation Plant: C$235,000 can provide enough oxygen for a 500-bed hospital for 20 years
• RT-PCR Machines: Each costing C$27,000, can speed up identification and treatment of COVID-19 infections. The machines last for 10 years, providing a legacy for testing for other deadly diseases such as TB, HIV, HPV, and streptococcus when COVID-19 declines

In May 2021, ASP donated $8,000 to UNICEF’s COVID Fundraising Efforts

By Melicia Gregory, Employee Chair for ASP’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Black History Month. A history too complex to be recognized in a day, week, month or year. A history of oppression, silencing and questioning one’s worth. A history that often reminds us that not much has changed and that the deep-rooted sentiments of racism are very still apparent.

During the Diversity and Inclusion Committee round table this month, I was given the opportunity to facilitate an open and honest discussion regarding Black History Month. I had brushed up on my research and tried to find a way to navigate the discussion. There are not enough words that could truly encompass the history of my people. Should I begin by reflecting on matters of the past with displaced or Black Canadians? What angle should I take? There was no angle. I went off script because being a Black woman, we are tired. Black people are tired. We are continually re-traumatized by reflecting on our ancestors on their knees, this represents the days of knees being rested on our fellow Black body (George Floyd).

The Black body and voice have always been forced into submission. Our very history that we are taught is negative and there is no mention of the kings and queens that used to reign in Africa. Our past has been erased and the only recollection we have is of modern Black revolutionaries such as Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X and Rosa Parks. When the status quo of white people is challenged, we are promised a fate of certain death, imprisonment and stigmatization of race.

During the roundtable discussion, it was apparent what Black people often have to put up with. This includes micro-aggressions and playing the role of the “nonthreatening” Mammy just to appease our coworkers. We often have to remain silent on pressing issues due to a lack of trust. Trust has gotten Black people nowhere before so there is distrust in a company or system that characterizes and polices the entire Black body. It is no wonder that we remain loud in our laughter and quiet in our suffering.

How can we make change? I propose that all Black people realize that we no longer need to play by the rules of fear. We’d like to encourage you to speak your voice; you’re not going to be less liked for speaking up. You are not troublesome, your voices and lives matter. Take time to reflect on your past and your current situation. Don’t be afraid of building new relationships and allies, as sometimes we see that people actually care when we ally ourselves with other races.

Black people have been speaking for many years and the world is going to listen to us, respect us and know that our voices and history are greater than the month we introduced, greater than the food we create and the dance trends we invent. We are not a commodity that can be used up and discarded. We see you; we hear you, and we value your efforts.

To everyone who cares about human rights, remember that Black history is a matter of the abrasive abuse of human rights onto Black people. Let us right our wrongs, avoid making assumptions (but do make eye contact) and try bridging that gap between yourself and the quiet co-worker who may be bottling their emotions just to keep their job. Please join in and lend your voice to our Diversity and Inclusion Committee; where your life matters, your opinions are heard and a difference can be made in shifting the pendulum one step at a time.