A grassroots initiative dedicated to supporting diversity in the B.C. craft brewing industry has resulted in a new scholarship award for Kwantlen Polytechnic University brewing students.
“Diversity and inclusion are an industry-wide issue and the responsibility cannot fall on the shoulders of one or two breweries or businesses. I saw an opportunity for a collective and sustainable long-term initiative where any brewery big or small has the opportunity to participate and lend support,” says Heather Keegan, coordinator of the Diversity in Brewing initiative and award.
Dedicated to supporting black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC) and LGTBQ2S+ community members, the first Diversity in Brewing award recipients were Alexander Paul, Nishant Amin and Jasper Bautista.
“I joined the KPU Brewing program with the dream of one day opening my own brewery that would be an inclusive, queer space,” says Paul. “While many breweries in the greater Vancouver area might not be actively exclusionary, there are very few that are specifically LGBTQ friendly. I would love to see and be part of that change and this award inspires me to make that dream happen.”
The Diversity in Brewing initiative recognizes that racism and discrimination are systemic within the craft brewing industry and this new award is a step towards encouraging local breweries to come together, address the issue and create change partly through supporting students of KPU’s Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma program who are part of these underrepresented communities.
“We’re extremely proud and honoured to be part of the Diversity in Brewing initiative, which aligns with our values at KPU and our commitment to supporting diversity and inclusiveness in our communities,” says Dr. Betty Worobec, dean, Faculty of Science and Horticulture at KPU.
“We’re also deeply appreciative of the support from the B.C. craft brewing community, who have supported our brewing program since the beginning and are continuing to encourage our students through this award.”
The award will be given out annually to one or more second-year students who self-identify as BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+. Students who wish to apply are asked to submit a letter expressing their interest to the award committee, which includes members from the BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ communities.
More than 35 B.C. breweries donated to the award, exceeding Diversity in Brewing’s initial goal of 25 breweries, allowing the fund to be shared among three KPU brewing program students this year.
“This award is a thoughtful, constructive way to address an important issue in our industry by lifting up and supporting future brewers who identify as BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+,” says Alek Egi, instructor and chair, KPU brewing and brewery operations diploma program. “The significant contribution of funds combined with the support of industry makes a huge difference towards strengthening the confidence of our students and how they see themselves as part of the brewing community.”
“I hope this award will create meaningful change by ensuring that BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ students feel valued and supported in the craft beer industry from the very start of their education at KPU and beyond as they begin their careers,” adds Keegan.
Visit the KPU Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma webpage (kpu.ca/brew) for more information about the program.