Site shows its pride, support, for LGBTQIA+ community
For the first time in its 117-year existence, outside the Ford Windsor Site now waves the multi-colored Pride rainbow flag in a show of support of the LGBTQIA+ community.
In a moving ceremony attended by dozens of the Windsor Team earlier today outside Essex Engine Plant, the flag swapped places with the regular Blue Oval in honor of June’s Pride Month and now stands alongside the Canadian and Unifor flags.
Included in the mix of those attending the ceremony along with Site and Unifor leadership was Ford Globe rep Rob Rice, who had the honor of swapping the flags and raising the Pride banner. In respect to the discovery of remains at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, it was then lowered back to half-mast along with the other flags.
“In my 26 years here, I never thought I would see this, but, in the last year and a half, I’ve had more support from not only salaried but hourly people – my coworkers who I work with – than I’ve ever had before. It’s an amazing feeling to be a part of it. Seriously,” said Rice.
“Ford Motor Company has come a long way and I’m happy that I’ve witnessed it over the years. To be a part of the flag raising here on our own Site, I’m just honored. I’m honored to be a part of this Site and to be here for the first time we’ve ever raised it here in Windsor. It may not be the first time in Ford Motor Company, but I’m happy that this year there are more plants doing so – and not just the office buildings, but we’re getting into the manufacturing facilities, too.”
The event was spearheaded by the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Windsor Council) in just the latest of several positive initiatives already undertaken – or planned – by the group.
“It’s special. It’s about acceptance. It’s about a sense of belonging and a sense of inclusion. We can see the pride that the Team here showed in the raising of the flag, it just speaks volumes to this Site in general. We’re a very accepting Site. We’re an inclusive Site and we want to make sure that everybody that comes into our walls here feel that they belong and they are coming to somewhere where they are appreciated, where their voice will be heard and that they can add to the overall fabric of the Site,” said DEI-WC chair Larry Quarshie.
“I’m really proud of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council being able to help make this event possible. By having this DEI Council, we were able to gain this groundswell of support that we need for something like this to happen. I’m really proud of our Council and we’re looking forward to doing even bigger and better things.”
For Site Manager Tom Reeber, the day also held special meaning.
“It’s a very proud day for us here at the Windsor Site. I’m so happy that we are all standing and representing the LGBTQIA+ community. Last year really changed our view and gave us some insight on social issues with race and it’s about time – actually, it’s overdue—that we started working to break those barriers so that those within the LGBTQIA+ community really feel that they belong as well.”
Rice added he knows of several other individuals on Site who are equally appreciative of efforts of Ford and the Windsor DEI Council.
“I know, for myself, when I first came here, I was completely ‘in the closet.’ I came out five years later because I just couldn’t live two lives anymore. I’ve then watched the acceptance growing over time. This, though – this is just awesome.”