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Habitat wins Diversity Award at Outstanding Business Achievement Awards ceremony

From left to right, starting from top row: Chelsey Foucher (Fundraising & Marketing Coordinator), Frank Bentrovato (Board Chair), Derek Paquin (Director of Operations), Michelle Knight (Assistant ReStore Manager), Maelyn Doxtater (Family Services Intern), Allyson Schmidt (Vice Chair/Incoming Board Chair), Katie Blunt (Executive Director), Ashton Brooks (Volunteer). Photo taken by Kevanna Fine Photography.

Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie & Area was anonymously nominated for two awards for the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber Of Commerce 2021 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards – the Diversity Award and the Community Non-Profit Business of the Year Award.

On Thursday, June 16, 2022, eight Habitat representatives attended the awards ceremony at The Machine Shop and were presented the 2021 Diversity Award!

The Diversity Award “recognizes a business or organization that embraces, celebrates, and applies holistic inclusion and participation of a diverse people making the workplace a better environment in which to work and the community a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.”

We are so honoured to receive this year’s Diversity Award. While there is always more work to be done to ensure greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, this is a great indication that we are on the right track.

It’s so important that people see themselves reflected at all levels of our organization – including staff, volunteers, board members, and homeowners. We believe that there is a place for everyone at Habitat and that our community is stronger when we have diverse teams with folks of all ages, races, ethnicities, cultures, gender identities, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and abilities. We aspire to be an organization that is truly representative of the community we exist to serve and will continue working hard to make sure this happens.

Katie Blunt, Executive Director
2021 Diversity Award

How does Habitat embrace, celebrate, and include diverse people in our workforce?

Our organization embraces, celebrates, and includes diverse peoples in its workforce in a variety of ways.


Firstly, we regularly partake in formal diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all our staff. This has included training on racial issues, unconscious bias, working with people on the autism spectrum, and more. Similarly, we engage in weekly “shared learning” sessions on topics of an employee’s choice. Sometimes these topics include race, gender, Indigenous culture, and the home countries of placement students.


Our organization also offers a variety of accommodations to ensure we are inclusive of diverse peoples in our workforce. These accommodations may be offered for interviews, training, orientation, and general work. Both of our workplaces – the Habitat ReStore and our office at 111 Elgin Street are accessible for peoples of all abilities.

Furthermore, we offer our staff “floater holidays” to be used on religious or cultural holidays of their choice.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In 2021, we also decided to close our office and ReStore for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this day, staff and volunteers were encouraged to attend events hosted by Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, Anishinaabe Academic Resource Centre, and the Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students’ Association.

Our Team

Our team is also made up of a diverse group of people. We have several Indigenous staff and volunteers, staff and volunteers of varying levels of ability, and regularly embrace international placement students from Sault College and Algoma University.

These students come from programs like Public Relations and Event Management, Social Work, and more. Such students bring knowledge, fresh perspectives, and diversity to our workforce. Our ReStore also accepts placement students with learning challenges from Sault College’s Community Integration through Cooperative Education (CICE) program, thus offering them opportunities to enhance their academic, vocational, and social skills.

Additionally, our volunteer program welcomes volunteers from all walks of life. We partner with Community Living Algoma to offer opportunities to volunteers of varying abilities. We also partner with John Howard Society to offer placement for court-ordered volunteers. We have volunteers who are senior citizens, Indigenous peoples, youth, and more, all working together toward a common goal: helping local families build strength, stability, and self-reliance through affordable homeownership.

We also apply for and utilize NOHFC and CMHC Indigenous internship streams to provide valuable work experience to Indigenous youth.

Thank you

It was an honour to be nominated for both awards and even more so to receive the Diversity Award. This would not have been possible without the hard work and community-mindedness of our Board, volunteers, staff, and homeowners. This award reflects our growth and inclusivity as an organization as well as the value of our increasingly diverse team. Thank you, chi miigwetch.

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