Pride at WestJet with Bernadeth Mari Aquino

WestJet
By WestJet | | 3 min read

At WestJet we are proud of the diverse identities that make up WestJet’s world. In celebration of Pride month, we interviewed four WestJetters who are proud members of the LGBTQ2+ community and asked them to share their personal stories and tell us about what pride means to them.

This week, we talked to Bernadeth Mari Aquino, WestJet Encore, Cabin Crew Member.

What does Pride mean to you?

I’ve known that I was attracted to women since I was 11. Growing up in a Filipino and Catholic community, I feared that my identity would negatively impact my relationship with my family, friends and community. This fear paired together with the inexistence of social media meant I didn’t have many examples of people around me who successfully came out and so I made the decision to stay in the closet until I was 17. It wasn’t until then when I realized my happiness and being my authentic self was more important than the fear that was holding me back. 

Today I don’t conceal my identity for anyone, in any space and I’ve found great acceptance and love from my family, friends and community. As a part of the LGBTQ2+ community, it takes a lot of courage to show up in the world, without disguise, but had I not taken the chance on myself and my happiness, I would never have known this freeing feeling. Pride for me is the gratification and peace I feel, knowing I am safe and loved within my community.

 Bernadeth Mari Aquino in New York City Bernadeth Mari Aquino in New York City
 Bernadeth Mari Aquino Bernadeth Mari Aquino

How do you #ShowYourPride at work year-round?

I wear my WestJet pride pin, proudly and feel it is my duty to use my privilege to empower those voices who aren’t heard. At work, I don’t keep my identity hidden, I am open about my life and speak about my girlfriend just as anyone would speak about their partner. As a Cabin Crew Member, I have the opportunity of working with new people every shift and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that in talking about my life and being open about my sexuality, I’ve had other fellow WestJetters open up to me about their identity and experiences as part of the LGBTQ2+ community. These experiences and conversations for me are the fruit of my labour. 

Five years ago, I was so closed off and hid my identity as a means of self-preservation and protection. Today, because of my openness I’ve met more people, both in and outside of WestJet, who have similar experiences to my own and I’ve done my best to provide a safe space for them, to feel empowered to explore their identity freely.  

To feel safe and supported as a queer identifying individual in the workplace is a rarity, so I am grateful to work in, and contribute to an environment and organization that provides a safe and supportive community for members of the LGBTQ2+ community and encourages intersectional discussions.

What do you like most about your role at WestJet?

Often, we talk about diversity and inclusion as one entity, however these two words are not synonymous with one another. Diverse representation within an organization is one step however, this doesn’t automatically mean that the individuals who represent that diversity feel included and heard. At WestJet I am grateful for the consistent effort that goes into making all WestJetters feel included, safe, equal and heard.