Where are we?
¡°DIVERSITY & Vancouver¡±
Finding answers at the Laurier Institution
by Margaret Dorazio-Migliore Photos y Myungsook Lee
Photo: Current Chair, Farid Rohani (back), and former Chair, Beverly Nann (front), of the Laurier Institution. Photo by Myungsook Lee.
The Laurier Institution, a national non-profit, non-partisan organization, has been developing conversations on ¡°multicultural issues¡± in Canada since it was founded by prominent business and community leaders in 1989. It plays a key facilitator role in Vancouver, assuming intellectual leadership on Canadian diversity by promoting awareness and pubic discussion. Of particular importance, a series of significant
community forums were held in 2004, and another in 2005 which asked, ¡°What is the Future of Multiculturalism in B.C.?¡± These forums led to progressive discussions on ¡°multiculturalism,¡± followed by ongoing public and online events in ¡°Diversity/Vancouver.¡± Recently, we met with current Chair, Farid Rohani, and former Chair, Beverly Nann, of the Laurier Institution to listen to their experiences at Laurier, and their views and visions of ¡°diversity¡± in Canada.
Although B.C. adopted multiculturalism as an official policy in 1996, as Beverly Nann says, ¡®There¡¯s no question there are a lot of issues around respecting one another because we tend to want to impose what we think are important values onto others. Much work still needs to be done in educating people in terms of what it means to live in a diverse society where you respect one another¡¦. So that¡¯s the challenge. And it¡¯s
an international issue, a global issue; [people] are fighting wars over that diversity everywhere else. And I think Canada is on the forefront of showing how a society as diverse as ours can live peacefully and prosper.¡¯
The Laurier Institution allows ideas to prosper and garners an audience for these ideas.
¡®As an organization, what we do,¡¯ says Farid Rohani, is ¡®create dialogue, bring dissenting views together where we can talk about things, and come up with a better view.¡¯
¡®Multiculturalism has evolved,¡¯ explains Farid. It has transformed itself through many different lives. ¡®One of our speakers, Will Kymlicka, spoke clearly about the need for dissection of the word ¡°multiculturalism.¡±¡¯ Kymlicka is a respected political philosopher at Queen¡¯s University and Farid agrees that ¡°multiculturalism¡± needs scrutiny.
As Bev notes, there is so much baggage that goes along with ¡°multicultural.¡± Cultural diversity allows us to participate in global interactions and ¡®diversity is a rich cultural resource that we have. It¡¯s an asset.¡¯
Farid has been a member of the Laurier since its inception in 1989. He became Chair of the Laurier Institution in September, and in November will succeed former Executive Director, Don Black, who helped found the Institution in 1989. Farid is a successful businessman who also studied political science at UBC. Among his many accomplishments are serving as Vice President of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society, Chair of
the Scouts B.C. Diversity Advisory Committee, and on the marketing committee of the Provincial Council of Scouts Canada.
Beverly Nann has been with the Institution right from the beginning too. A social worker by profession, Bev is a founding (and continuing) Board Member and Past Chair herself. Working in the field of immigration and multiculturalism for more than 30 years, she has received several honours, and has pioneered various services for newcomers. She has generously agreed to act as a resource person for our interview today due
to her extensive knowledge of the history of the Laurier.
The Institution progressed ¡®from the ground up.¡¯ By approaching people, Bev got policy makers and leaders involved in examining Canadian multicultural issues. They, in turn, brought others into the discussion, and that¡¯s how the Laurier got started and grew. It continues this strategy of engaging people, focusing on policy issues and areas of tension, and it continues to flourish.
Acting in an educational capacity, the Laurier creates forums for discussion, backed by research. Typically, the Laurier selects a topic based on community input, and follows this up with research and dialogue. It conducts research relevant to cultural diversity and subsequently supports communities in their efforts to create dialogue with each other. It also nurtures the integration of new groups into society in a number
ways. Forums and lectures are offered throughout the year, and each February a number of special events are organized.
Since 2004 the Institution, together with CBC and UBC, has hosted an Annual Multiculturalism Lecture, subsequently aired on CBC IDEAS Radio 1 hosted by Paul Kennedy. John Ralston Saul, Will Kymlicka, Karim H. Karim, Leonie Sandercock, Roy Miki, and Mina Shum have been featured Lecturers. Continued
DIVERSE 5th Issue
We are pleased to announce that DIVERSE 5th issue, Summer 2011 has been released.
12 Diversity in Canadian Workplaces What are the obstacles to a better form of ¡°diversity¡± in the workplace?
- Open Door Group
- BC Workplace Diversity Inclusion Awards
6 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30 portraits
2 ThePower of Exchange A Historic Collaboration between Germany¡¯s
Premiere Art Collections and Canada¡¯s First Nations
28 Ezra Kwizera Born in Uganda to Rwandese refugee parents, Canadian Musician and genocide survivor speaks on the art of forgiveness and of adapting to Canadian culture
42 Dana Claxton
The Mustang Suite: Questioning mobility, freedom and autonomy
24 Gung Haggis Fat Choy in Vancouver, BC: The Diversity of Canada
38 Denise Brillon Breaking barriers in the fashion world
32 Pysanky¡¯s Resurgence
Joan Brander¡¯s contribution to the renaissance in traditional
Ukrainian egg art
10 Publisher¡¯s Note
27 Benefits of being a bilingual writer
31 Canadians come in all differences
NEWS & INFORMATIONS
35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism
36 Publisher¡¯s Picks
You Can Order Here.