By Debbie Ciccotelli, VP, Strategic Innitiatives

At ASP, Diversity and Inclusion is a part of our culture and values. We are committed to fostering an environment that values, celebrates, supports, respects and embraces all forms of diversity. If we truly want to address and foster inclusion, we need to tackle hate and subtle forms of discrimination and collectively ensure our workplace is safe and inclusive for all.

It is not easy to accept that we may have biases, however, no matter how we feel about prejudiced behavior, we are all susceptible to biases based on cultural stereotypes that are embedded in our belief systems from a young age. Every day, each and every one of us can stand up against prejudice and intolerant attitudes. An important way to reduce disparities, therefore, is to address our own biases on both individual and interpersonal levels. A first step is acknowledging that we are all vulnerable to biases. Once we are confronted with this awareness, our first impulse may to be deny or avoid it. It is normal to feel uncomfortable, but the only way to change our thoughts and behavior is to acknowledge our biases, become curious about them, and practice ways to transform them. It all circles back to the classic golden rule principle, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

I was deeply saddened and disappointed to learn of the LGBTQ2s+ hate crimes which occurred in the U.S. during Pride month.

The two most significant incidents in which LGBTQ2s+ events were targeted by far-right extremist groups were as follows:

  • On June 11th, a library in Alameda County, California was hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour, where performers were reading children’s book when the event was crashed by alleged members of the far-right Proud Boys who disrupted the event and shouted profane, homophobic, and transphobic slurs to threaten and intimidate.
  • In Coeur D’Alene, Idaho a group of men with ties to the white nationalist Patriot Front planned to instigate a riot at a Pride in the Park event where families, children and supporters were gathered to celebrate the LGBTQ2s+ community. On June 12th Police arrested 31 members of the white supremacist group after they were found packed into the back of a U-Haul truck wearing balaclavas and bearing riot gear.

Also, on June 6th at a Washington state high school, a 16-year-old student was arrested for assault and charged with a hate crime after allegedly attacking two transgender students and using a homophobic slur. The altercation left a trans student with a concussion. At a June 13th rally at the school in support of the trans students, another student reportedly expressed his desire to aim an automatic machine gun in the direction of the demonstrators, forcing the school to go into lockdown.

These disruptions prompted LGBTQ2s+ event organizers and law enforcement to stay on high alert during Pride Month.

In June, many people across Canada recognize Pride Month. It is a time when we celebrate the diversity of LGBTQ2s+ communities, while acknowledging their history, the hardships and struggles they have endured and the progress that has been made.

Although the above events occurred south of the border, there have also been several disturbing incidents in Canada this year.

The following are some of the examples reported in the media:

The Miami Police Department received a report of a teenaged male on a social media chat line waving a gun and threatening to commit a mass shooting at a Florida Pride celebration. In total, seven law enforcement agencies — Miami Police Department, West Palm Beach Police, the local Sheriff ’s Department, the FBI, the RCMP, Toronto Police, and Peel Regional Police, worked together on this case. It ended with a teen being located at a Mississauga residence and arrested by Peel detectives. The teenager was charged with threatening to commit a mass shooting by Canadian authorities and will face similar charges and possible extradition to the United States.

In addition to this alleged heinous threat, a bisexual person was attacked in early June in Toronto and there has been other homophobic violence in the city.

In Lethbridge, Alberta, someone put a black mark across the city’s permanent painted pedestrian crosswalks meant to represent the LGBTQ2s+ transgender flags.

Symbols of the LGBTQ2s+ community are being targeted by vandals in Southwestern, Ontario. The OPP have responded to and are investigating numerous reports of damaged flags meant to celebrate diversity and inclusion during Pride Month, many of which occurred at schools, e.g.

  • In Norwich, multiple Pride flags were stolen or vandalized
  • Both Wellington County and Perth County received a rash of mischief reports in Mapleton, North Perth and Pinto
  • Pride ribbons decorating a light standard on Main Street in Palmerston were damaged
  • Pride flags were damaged at three elementary schools in Moorefield, Drayton and Harriston
  • Pride flags were damaged at a business and at a Secondary School is Listowel
  • Paint was thrown on a Pride crosswalk in Ingersoll

The pride banner outside the Scarborough United Church was partially burned, ripped and defaced with the word ‘repent’.

Windsor police are investing possible hate crimes after Pride flags were stolen and burned at a Secondary School.

A young male spray-painted the newly installed Pride crosswalk in Waterdown.

I encourage you to open your mind and heart to eliminating discrimination in the workplace and in your community.

A 17-year-old male has been arrested by the Hamilton police hate-crime unit in connection to a Pride crosswalk being vandalized.

Two men ripped down a rainbow flag from a resident’s porch in an Ottawa neighbourhood.

In Victoria BC, organizers of a family-friendly drag show decided to cancel the event after receiving multiple threats and harassing calls.

These incidents clash with the celebration of Pride month and it is very disconcerting to see this kind of hostility, vandalism, and hatred being spewed during a month that is so significant to the LGBTQ2s+ community.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization that monitors hate groups and crimes in Canada, said they are aware of a spike in anti-LGBTQ2s+ material online and in-person during this Pride month. I, like many of you, have family, friends and coworkers who identify as members of the LGBTQ2s+ community and these acts of hate and vandalism challenge an individual’s ability to feel like they belong and that they are valued, and they are safe in their community. Although Canada has made great progress over the past decade, we are now in the moment where we need to protect that progress and continue to move forward as a country, community, and as individuals.

By Sarah Jessop, HR Business Partner

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 July, August, and September 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 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 2022

  • July 6: Dalai Lama’s Birthday (Buddhist)
    His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. Born to a peasant family in northeastern Tibet, he was recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama (Mongolian for ‘Ocean of Wisdom’). In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is believed to be an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.
  • July 8: Day of Hajj (Islam)
    Muslims perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The pilgrimage is one of the five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are expected to perform the Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they have the physical and financial capacity. About 6 million Muslims from over 70 countries journey to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. In one of the rites of the Hajj, pilgrims move in a circular, counterclockwise procession around the Ka’bah.
  • July 9: Martyrdom of The Báb (Bahá’í)
    The Báb was executed at the age of 31 by a firing squad in Tabriz in 1850 C.E. The event is observed at noon.
  • July 10: Eid al-Adha (Islam)
    It concludes the Hajj and is a three-day festival celebrating Abraham’s test of obedience to Allah when he was asked to sacrifice his son Ismael. At the last minute, Allah replaced Ismael with a lamb. Since Eid is determined by the first sighting of the new moon, the date varies by a day depending on whether the Saudi Arabian or North American sighting is being observed. This calendar follows the North American dates which is a day later.
  • July 11: Imamat Day (Islam Ismaili)
    Imamat Day is celebrated every year by Ismailis on the day that the Imamat or religious leader transferred from the past Imam to the present Aga Khan.
  • July 13: Guru Purnima ( Jain/Hindu)
    Is celebrated by disciples to revere and honour their Gurus (spiritual masters).
  • July 13: Wassana/Dhamma Day (Buddhist)
    This day marks the beginning of the 3-month ‘Rains Retreat’ for self-examination and peace-making for monks and nuns. It also celebrates Buddha’s first teaching.
  • July 24: Pioneer Day (Christian – Mormon)
    This day honours the U.S. pioneers led by Brigham Young, who first settled in Utah in 1847. This day is celebrated with parades to remember their pioneering ancestors.
  • July 30: Oh-Harai-Taisai (Shinto)
    During the Grand Purification Ceremony, Japanese worshippers walk through a large ring of woven grass and reeds that are placed at the entrance of the shrines as an act of inner purification for sins and offenses committed during the first half of the year. This sacred ritual is observed twice yearly.
  • July 30: 1st Muharram – Islamic New Year (Islam)
    Islamic New Year, 1443 AH. The first of Muharram marks the first day of the first month (Muharram) of the Islamic year. Muharam lasts for 29-30 days depending on the moon sighting. It begins at sundown the previous day. The dates vary by a day depending on whether the Saudi Arabia or the North American Calendar is being observed. This calendar follows the North American dates which is a day later.
  • July 31: Kamál (8th Month) (Bahá’í)
    The first day of the eighth Bahá’í month. The English translation of Kamál (Arabic) is Perfection.

August 2022

  • August 1: Lughnasadh (Wiccan)
    Its name is taken from the Celtic God Lugh, or Samildanach, which means ‘he of many gifts’. It celebrates the ancient festival of the first harvesting of grain in August.
  • August 7: Tisha B’Av ( Jewish)
    A Jewish holiday that remembers the destruction of the Jewish temple, once in 586 BCE and once in 70 CE in Jerusalem.
  • August 8: Ashura (Islam)
    The tenth day of the first Islamic month (Muharram). For Shi’ite Muslims, this day mourns the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. Devout Shi’a commemorate this day of sadness with retelling the story of the battle fought in Kerbala.
  • August 8: Fravardeghan (Zoroastrian)
    Fravardeghan lasts ten days in preparation for Now Ruz for those who follow the Shenshai calendar. Ancestors are memorialized during this time.
  • August 11: Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)
    According to legend, God Indra was warring with demons. His wife tied a silk charm around his wrist to protect him and he was able to defeat his enemies. Hindu girls now tie a threaded amulet or ‘rakhi’ on their brothers for protection against evil.
  • August 15: Assumption (Christian)
    This refers to Mary’s death and ascent to heaven and is celebrated by Catholic and Orthodox Churchs. Special mentions: Sicilian-Canadians hold an outdoor procession for the Madonna del Assunta, Polish- Canadians celebrate the Feast of the Mother of God of the herbs, an early harvest festival, Armenian Orthodox bless the first grapes of the season, Ukranians take flowers to the church to be blessed.
  • August 19: Janmashtami (Hindu)
    Celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna and his rescue from potential death by the demon Kasna. Lord Krishna was born in a prison, then carried by his father to another village where he was secretly exchanged with a cow herder’s daughter for his safety.
  • August 19: Asmá (9th Month) (Bahá’i)
    The first day of the ninth Bahá’í month. The English translation of Asmá (Arabic) is Names.
  • August 24: Birth of Prophet Zarathustra (Zoroastrian)
    Zarathushtra (Zoroaster in Greek; Zarthosht in India and Persia) is the founder of the Zoroastrian religion, dating back to sometime between 1500 and 1000 BCE. He lived in Persia, modern day Iran.

    Zoroastrianism became the state religion of various Persian empires, until the 7th century CE. When Arabs, followers of Islam, invaded Persia in 650 CE, a small number of Zoroastrians fled to India where most are concentrated today.
  • August 25 – September 1: Paryushana-Parva ( Jain)
    Celebrated for eight days, Paryushana-Parva is the holiest time of the year and is marked by fasting and worship of the 24 realized teachers of the Jain faith known as Tirthankaras or Jinas.
  • August 31: Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu)
    It is in honour of one of Hindu’s major deity, Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. He is known as the ‘remover of all obstacles’ and is invoked at the beginning of all new undertakings.

September 2022

  • September 1: Dashalakshani-Parva ( Jain)
    Celebrated by the Digambara sect and lasts ten days, each day dedicated to a virtue: humility, honesty, purity, forgiveness, truthfulness, selfrestraint, asceticism, study, celibacy and detachment.
  • September 1: Samvatsari ( Jain)
    This day is dedicated to introspection, confession, and penance, especially for the Shvetambara sect.
  • September 7: Onam (Hindu)
    Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala in India. Lasting for four to ten days, it is a harvest festival commemorating the homecoming of the legendary Emperor Mahabali from Patala (the underworld) who visits every Malayali home and during this time.
  • September 8: Ízzat (10th Month) (Bahá’í)
    The 10th month in the Baha’i calendar. “Ízzat” in Arabic means ‘Might’.
  • September 9: Ananta-Chaturdasi ( Jain)
    ‘Festival of Ten Virtues’ is a 10-day fast and meditation for the Jains.
  • September 10: Ksamavani ( Jain)
    Ksamavani is the ‘day of universal forgiveness’ for wrongs committed by them and to them.
  • September 12-16: Gahambar Paitishahem (Zoroastrian)
    This day celebrates the creation of earth.
  • September 23: Mabon (Wiccan)
    This day celebrates the fall equinox and the end of the harvest season. Apples are juiced for cider and grapes for wine.
  • September 26-27: Rosh Hashanah ( Jewish)
    Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of Judaism’s holiest days. Meaning “head of the year” or “first of the year,” the festival begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, which falls during September or October.
  • September 26: Navratri (Hindu)
    It means ‘nine nights’ beginning on the new moon and ending on Dussehra. It is dedicated to the goddess Durga who had nine incarnations and has the power of good to destroy demons.
  • September 27: Mashiyyat (11th Month) (Bahá’í)
    The first day of the eleventh Bahá’í month. The English translation of Mashiyyat (Arabic) is Will.

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

By Garinder Grewal, Director, Aviation

At ASP our goal is to clearly differentiate us as a “Best in Class” service provider through operational excellence and superior customer service. We are a customer-centric organization, which is why we would like to compliment and thank our employee Sid Ali Hassan for always delivering the kind of customer service we all want to receive. Sid recognizes the importance of approaching customers with respect, friendliness, and a sincere desire to help. Sid is always 100% dedicated to ensuring an excellent passenger experience from curb to aircraft.

Please refer to the email below from one of many customers that were very pleased with Sid’s professionalism and outstanding customer service.

“I’m not kidding when I tell you that this gentleman was the single finest employee I’ve encountered in an airport anywhere around the world. His professionalism, patience, and kindness were remarkable. He was the person who was in charge of keeping folks like me (no ticket, but wanting to see my wife off on her way) from going into the terminal. He must have been more than 6’4” and at 5’6” he could have easily chosen to intimidate, ignore or dismiss me, but, he chose kindness, apologies and assistance.

He found a cell phone so I could call my wife so she would not be worried. He was VERY busy, but not too busy to help. My Jesus’s body in the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church. • June 16 – Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib A day observed by Sikhs to commemorate an individual who laid down his life for their people. June 24 – Litha A Pagan and Wiccan festival that begins on the summer solstice and celebrates midsummer. • June 24 – Feast of the Sacred Heart A feast day in the Roman Catholic Church that celebrates Jesus’s physical heart as a representation of his love for all humanity. Employee Spotlight: Sid Ali Hassan By Garinder Grewal, Director, Aviation biggest hope is that you can forward him what I’ve said about him. People doing the sort of job he is doing are confronted with all sorts of abuse on a daily basis just for doing their jobs. I should have made myself more informed about the rules at Pearson so I was prepared. The security guard never suggested this. He only wanted to help me and to do his job. I spent over 30 years as a teacher enforcing rules and trying to be respectful to children while doing so.

I can tell you this gentleman scores 100% when it comes to respect (not to mention kindness and professionalism) and if there is anyway this email could be forwarded to him, I’d like him to know exactly what I’ve said about him. I’m sure there are daily frustrations dealing with unreasonable people. He needs to know that he is making a difference, one passenger at a time!”

By Sarah Jessop, Human Resources Generalist

The world’s rich diversity is reflected in the observances that are celebrated and recognized by our teammates. Knowledge of the following holidays and celebrations can enhance our workplace diversity and inclusion efforts. Throughout the months of April, May, and June a variety of religious holidays, festivals, observances, and spiritual commemorations took place. These events are celebrated and observed by many of us, so in the spirit of respect and comradery, please familiar yourselve with them.

At ASP, we value and recognize
the diverse religious beliefs of
our employees.

April 2022

  • April 2 to May 2 – Ramada
    The holy month of fasting, introspection, and prayer celebrated by Muslims.
  • April 14 – Vaisakhi
    An ancient festival for Hindus that simultaneously celebrates that Solar New Year and spring harvest.
  • April 15 to April 23 – Passover
    A 7-day holiday in the Jewish faith that honors the freeing of the Israeli slaves.
  • April 15 – Mahavir Jayanti
    A Jain holiday celebrating the birth of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism.
  • April 17 – Easter
    The most important day in the Christian faith when they celebrate the resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • April 24 – Feast of the Divine Mercy
    A feast day on the second Sunday of Easter when Christians seek Christ’s forgiveness and grace.

May 2022

  • May 1 – Beltane
    A fire festival celebrated by the Pagan and Wiccan religions that celebrate summer and the fertility of the upcoming year.
  • May 3 – Eid al-Fitr
    An Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. As it ends fasting, its primary event is a big meal.
  • May 8 – Birthday of Buddha
    The day that Buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s birthday.
  • May 16– Vesak
    The most important Theravada Buddhist festival that signifies the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha
  • May 24 – Declaration of the Bab
    The day that marks the prediction of the Bab as the Messenger of God in the Baha’i faith.
  • May 26 – Ascension Day
    A Christian holiday that marks the 40th day following Easter when Jesus ascended into Heaven.

June 2022

  • June 2 – Ascension Day
    A day celebrated in Coptic Orthodox Christianity that marks Jesus’s ascension into heaven.
  • June 4 to June 6 – Shavuot
    A Jewish holiday that combines a grain harvest and the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
  • June 8 – Race Unity Day
    A day that promotes racial harmony and understanding in the Baha’i faith.
  • June 12 – Trinity Sunday
    A day in the Christian faith that celebrates the three personifications of God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit).
  • June 12 – All Saints Day
    The day in Eastern Orthodox Christianity that designates the end of the Easter season.
  • June 16 – Feast of Corpus Christi
    The feast day that commemorates the real presence of Jesus’s body in the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church.
  • June 16 – Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib
    A day observed by Sikhs to commemorate an individual who laid down his life for their people.
  • June 24 – Litha
    A Pagan and Wiccan festival that begins on the summer solstice and celebrates midsummer.
  • June 24 – Feast of the Sacred Heart
    A feast day in the Roman Catholic Church that celebrates Jesus’s physical heart as a representation of his love for all humanity.

By Sarah Jessop, Human Resources Generalist

April is World Autism Month, an annual opportunity for a dedicated conversation and celebration of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism touches more than 70 million people globally, and at ASP we have a number of employees who either have Autism or know someone who does.

In fact, 1 in 44 people are on the Autism spectrum, with this number continuing to grow each day as more children and youth in Canada are diagnosed with ASD.

There is no one type of Autism, but many. Each case is unique, as each individual with ASD experiences their own challenges. We encourage you to take some time to learn more about Autism by reviewing the resources on the Autism Canada website here.

With ASD diagnosis rates increasing for Canadian children, we have no doubt that many ASP employees are parenting or caring for a child with ASD.

In celebration of Autism, we’d like to share some resources for the parents and caregivers of these children so that you have the knowledge and resources needed to help them thrive in their community.

Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Before getting an assessment and diagnosis, it’s important to pay attention to the signs of Autism in your child. The initial signs of Autism vary widely and can appear at different times. Some show signs at a very young age, while others don’t show signs until later in life.

Understanding, embracing and celebrating the different ways that individuals with ASD think and do encourages those with Autism to reach their full potential. Some of the great skills that individuals with ASD may possess include, but are not limited to:

  • Attention to detail (thoroughness, accuracy)
  • Deep focus (concentration, freedom from distraction)
  • Observational skills
  • Absorb and retain facts (excellent long-term memory, superior recall)
  • Visual skills (visual learning and recall, detail focused)
  • Expertise (in-depth knowledge, high level of skills)
  • Methodical approach (analytical, spotting patterns)
  • Novel approaches (unique thought processes and innovative solutions)
  • Creativity (Distinctive imagination, expression of ideas)
  • Tenacity and resilience (Determination, challenge opinions)
  • Accepting of difference (less likely to judge others, may question norms)
  • Integrity (honesty, loyalty, commitment)

Getting an Assessment and Diagnosis

If you believe your child could have Autism, the best thing to do is speak with your health care provider. They will likely refer you to a specialist that is qualified to assess and diagnose ASD. You can prepare for a meeting with your health care provider or specialist by taking photographs, keeping logs or diaries, or making video recordings that demonstrate any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms.

Below is a table of some of the possible signs and symptoms of Autism that you may see at different ages.

Up to 12 months of age• little or no babbling
• little or no eye contact
• showing more interest in objects than people
• appearing not to hear when spoken to directly
• playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
• repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head
• starting to develop language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
Up to 2 years of age• very specific area of interest
• limited or no interest in other children
• behavioural issues like self-injury or self-isolation
• repeating words or phrases without appearing to understand them
• difficulty with reciprocal social interactions (like playing peek-a-boo)
• liking to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food
Any Age• little eye contact
• distinct reactions to:
» lights
» tastes
» smells
» sounds
» colours
» textures
» very specific interests
» repeating words or phrases (echolalia)
» repetitive behaviours, such as spinning
» nonverbal communication or delayed language development
» intense reactions to minor changes in routine or surroundings

Government Programs and Support

ASP employees throughout the country should consider the government resources in their province if they are the parent or caregiver of a child diagnosed with ASD. Below is a list of just some of the offerings available in your region:

Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD)
  • The Alberta FSCD program works with eligible families to provide support and services based on each child and family’s needs.
  • More information can be found here:
New Brunswick
Preschool Autism Program
Nova Scotia
Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • The government of Nova Scotia offers a variety of programs and services for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Direct Family Support Programs for Children (DFSC).
  • More information can be found here:
Ontario Autism Program
  • The Ontario Government’s Autism Program offers foundational family services, core clinical services, urgent response services, caregiver-mediated early years programs and an entry to school program on a needs-basis.
  • More information can be found here:
Services for Persons with a Physical or Intellectual
Disability or an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

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