2023 Asian Heritage Month

Interview with the Network of Asian Federal Employees (NAFE)

  1. What is the theme for this year’s Asian heritage month and what is its meaning?
  • The annual Asian Heritage month theme is developed by Canadian Heritage and the 2023 theme is “Stories of Determination”, which represents the strides made and the challenges overcome by Asian communities to thrive in Canada over the last 2 centuries and beyond. It is a history filled with hardship and setbacks, but ultimately, it is a story of triumph over adversity. This month is also a reminder for all of us to come together to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms.
  1. When was the Network of Asian Federal Employees (NAFE) established and what is its purpose?
  • NAFE was established in May 2021 and its mission is guided by the Employment Equity Act, in which it supports the public service to cultivate an inclusive workforce – one that is fully representative of Canada’s Asian* population, embraces a culture where diversity is valued, and actively supports Asian and other visible minority employees in their contributions to the federal public service throughout their careers.

* Asian is defined as individuals who identify as Asian including but not limited to: South Asian, East Asian, Southeast Asian, West Asian, and Pacific Islanders.

  1. What are some of the key issues impacting public sector employees of Asian heritage?
  • Key issues we heard from NAFE members to-date are captured in the achievements and events in questions 4 and 5.
  1. What are some of NAFE’s key successes/achievements since it was established?

Some key successes/achievements include:

  • Establishing a Steering Committee of 10 members
  • Building strong relationships with other equity seeking networks and unions
  • Organizing diverse events that serve the objectives of the network, such as:
    • The NAFE launch event, that reached more than 1,500 registered attendees
    • The Lunar New Year celebration and NAFE Steering Committee Meet-and-Greet each had around 130 registered attendees.
    • A student networking event on post-graduate opportunities that had around 25 attendees.
  • Providing employment equity considerations into TBS’ Employment Equity Benchmarking work
  • Submitting a proposal to the Privy Council Office on formalizing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work within Performance Management Applications
  • Conducting membership surveys on return to workplace and post-events
  • Moderating and regularly updating our GC Connex Group and GCXchange Team
  • Creating a Post-Graduate Recruitment and Development Database for 2021-22 and 2022-23 opportunities, with a refresh every fall going forward
  1. What initiatives has NAFE undertaken or identified to help address its members’ concerns and what specific goals are they working towards and/or events planned for the upcoming year?  

Upcoming events include:

  • Trust circles (May)
  • Big Fight in Little Chinatown movie viewing (end of June)
  • End of the Chinese Exclusion Act event (100-year anniversary) (June)
  • Self-Identity event in collaboration with Health Canada’s Visible Minority Network (July)
  • Peer Coaching Circles (July)
  • Mentorship Program (August)
  • Government of Canada 101 Sessions (September)
  • Career Fairs (November)
  • Inventory of Bridgeable Students (December)
  1. What role do you see federal public sector unions such as CAPE playing in better supporting public sector employees of Asian heritage within the federal public sector workplace?
  • Providing a forum for union members to receive more information and learn about NAFE (e.g., through emails, events etc.)
  • NAFE members to understand the role unions have regarding labour relations (e.g., members’ rights)
  • NAFE members to receive information from unions on what their EDI priorities and objectives are
  • Do unions collect data on representation at different levels of members’ careers?
  1. Any other thoughts or message you would like to share with the CAPE membership?

For any members interested in joining NAFE as a member or ally, please check out our GCConnex and GCXchange