Interview with Julie Gordon (BC PEOPLE Producer and Writer)

¡°In the end, we are really all more similar than we are different¡±

  BC¡¯s Diversity through 30portraits

  BC PEOPLE (www.bcpeople.ca) by EmbraceBC

  Christopher & Anjali Mathias             Gertrude Ned             Chizuko & Achim Purschwitz    

  Larry Ewashen             Rajendra Shakya and Nina Kansakar             Gloria Williams     

  Pewi Alfred             Hilda Villumsen             Don Tasaka    

  Mamadou Tounkara             Wayne Sawchuk & Donna Kane       Shannon McPhail

  Peter Evdokimoff             Gloria Morgan             Richard Wright  

DIVERSE: What was the goal of this project? What is the message you (and government) wanted to speak out?

Julie Gordon: For me the main goal of BC People was to get real people from every corner of British Columbia to share their personal stories and opinions – in the context of multiculturalism, of course. We were hoping to create something authentic and to showcase a broad cross-section of people who live in BC.

In terms of messaging, we tried hard not to predetermine the message, so we asked open questions and we didn¡¯t avoid talking about challenges. That said, I suppose we were hoping that a positive overall message would emerge, and I would say it really did. By and large, people spoke about how much they value the experience of living in a diverse society.


DIVERSE: How did you get involved? Could you share your experiences or knowledge on ¡°diversity¡± before you started this project?

JG: I am third generation Canadian, and I am Caucasian. I grew up in downtown Toronto and I went to a high school with a lot of diversity. I have had friends from different cultural backgrounds – my sister-in-law is Colombian, and for a number of years I have worked with First Nations people in BC.

Diversity has always been of interest to me; as a human being I gravitate toward issues related to humanity and equality, and as a writer I am naturally curious about life and people. Meeting and getting to know people from different cultural backgrounds feeds me on both levels; it¡¯s a huge opportunity to learn and to grow. I think exploring diversity is really a challenge; it forces you to think about, and possibly adjust, your own core beliefs, values, and opinions.

 BC¡¯s Diversity through 30portraits

 BC PEOPLE (www.bcpeople.ca) by EmbraceBC

  John & Sandra Barth             Daljit Singh             Emilie Mattson

  Deborah Derrick             Nikos Theodosakis             Jacob Beaton

  Karnail Singh Sidhu             Rudy Rozcypalek             Moustafa Mohammed

  Bill Tanaka             Sushil Thapar             Sam & Phung Lam

  Lena Horswill             Stella Ndunda             Catherine Woodley

DIVERSE: What were your (or the BC government¡¯s) criteria for selecting participants? Were there any concerns? What were the greatest challenges?

JG: EmbraceBC – the government funding agency – was wonderful to work with. They didn¡¯t really impose restrictions, so we were able to set our own selection criteria. We had two key criteria: to get to as many locations in BC as possible, especially smaller and remote places, and to talk to a wide variety of people, in terms of ethnic and cultural background.

Finding people was a big challenge, but also a lot of fun. We set out in teams of one or two, on five separate trips so we would cover a lot of BC. In a way it was a scramble to just find as many people willing to talk as possible. Teams found people by reaching out to pre-existing contacts, searching the Internet, calling cultural groups and organizations, contacting community leaders and even approaching people on the street. We didn¡¯t push people; we only interviewed those who willingly offered to participate.

One of the biggest challenges was in editing the interviews down for the book and podcasts. There¡¯s a big responsibility in editing, as it¡¯s easy to manipulate what people say. We spent a lot of time with the editing to make sure the results were authentic and representative of what each person wanted to express.


DIVERSE: Who is the main target audience for this project? Why do you think this project is significant?

JG: I think the target audience for the project includes anyone who lives in, visits or wants to know about BC. It¡¯s really about the real people of BC, so I think anyone can access it and find something interesting in it.

That said, educators are particularly supportive and interested in the project. This is true at all levels but particularly in middle and secondary schools; teachers have been writing to say they are finding the project a really valuable learning resource. I think the project is significant because it presents a lot of different stories and it therefore promotes dialogue. It¡¯s a great way to get a discussion about diversity started.


DIVERSE: What you have learned from this project?

JG: Oh – I learned a lot! Too many things to tell here, but I think the main learning was just to increase my understanding and awareness of different peoples¡¯ situations and how those situations affect their lives. When you speak directly to people who have faced discrimination, lived through wars, or simply live a world away from their families – and when you learn of the ways people stay connected to their unique cultures – I think these conversations lead to understandings that make it so much easier to be accepting of small differences. In the end, we are really all more similar than we are different.


Julie Gordon is a Victoria, BC-based writer, producer and principal of a boutique creative communications agency. Working collaboratively with other creative professionals, Julie uses mixed media to produce storytelling projects in the areas of cultural, social and environmental sustainability.

Photo © Dean Azim Pewi Alfred / Gloria Williams / Bill Tanaka / Rudy Rozsypalek / Mamadou Tounkara/ Moustafa Mohamed / Jacob Beaton / Shannon McPhail / Don Tasaka / John & Sandra Barth / Sam & Phung Lam / Hilda Villumsen

Photo © Quinton Gordon Catherine Woodley / Rajendra Shakya and Nina Kansakar / Gertrude Ned / Karnail Singh Sindhu / Nikos Theodosakis / Larry Ewashen / Peter Evdokimoff / Christopher and Anjali Mathias / Lena Horswill / Chizuko and Achim Purschwitz / Deborah Derrick / Sushil Thapar / Richard Wright /Daljit Singh

Photo © Jim Knox Gloria Morgan

Photo © Brock Radelet Stella Ndunda / Donna Kane and Wayne Sawchuk / Emilie Mattson



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



35 News Briefs on Multiculturalism

36 Publisher¡¯s Picks


You Can Order Here.

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    DIVERSE......"Each person is born into a unique culture. All deserve respect.¡±