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Inclusive Employers Recognized at Annual Excellence Awards

The 2019 Inclusive Employers’ Excellence Awards was held on Wednesday October 30th at the Legacy Sports Centre in Abbotsford. The third annual event honoured employers who make it a part of their business plan to hire people living with diverse abilities. It was attended by Mayor Henry Braun, Councillors Brenda Falk, Dave Loewen, and Sandy Blue and representatives from several local organizations and businesses.

Communitas Supportive Care Society and Archway Community Services present the awards together each year, giving guests the opportunity to hear first-hand testimonials from employers who hire inclusively and employees whose lives have been impacted by the opportunity to have meaningful work.

Communitas Employment Specialist Tamara Seebaran with keynote speakers Lisa Beecroft and Craig Richmond

This year, the keynote address was shared by two inclusive employers. Craig Richmond is the President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority, a world-leader in inclusive hiring. He says that the stigma around people living with disabilities may be one of the last conscious biases that employers have.

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

Your company will be better for inclusive hiring. – Craig Richmond, President and CEO of the Vancouver Airport Authority 

Lisa Beecroft is the owner of Gabi and Jules, Handmade Pies, a bakery in Port Moody that hires people of all abilities. The bakery is named after her daughters, the eldest of whom lives with autism. Many of the individuals they hire also live with autism, which is viewed as an asset.

“Not only do they have value, they bring unique value to the team,” Beecroft says. “As a small business owner, you know how hard it is to find quality, engaged, loyal staff… we’re incredibly lucky, we have some amazing staff who work for us.”

Along with the keynote address and testimonials, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun attended to help present one of the awards, Jillian Bradley spoke about the national Mentorability initiative and entertainment was provided by David Granirer of Stand Up for Mental Health.

“The event was a tremendous success this year,” says Matt Dirks, program director for Communitas. “Inspired by the words of our keynote speakers and the examples of this year’s winner, attendees left with a strong understanding of the successes that are happening in our local business community.”

Matt Dirks, program director for Communitas emceed the event

All those involved in the planning of the event offered congratulations to the winners Dirks also voiced his appreciation for the partnership with Archway as well as government and private industry.

“When employers hire inclusively, everybody wins: the employer, the employee, and the wider community,” he said. “We all look forward to continuing to support and resource employers in our community.”

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of inclusive hiring for your business, connect with Archway or Communitas at  778 245 2518 or 778 908 2069 or email