What makes Vancouver a welcoming and inclusive city

  • Page Views 1296
  • Early in December I attended two events, just 24 hours apart, that defined for me what makes a city great: it’s a sense of safety, inclusion and opportunity for all.

    That was the key message of a group of Syrian refugees, now one year in the country, who told of their experiences in a news conference at Welcome House, the new reception centre for newcomers operated by Immigrant Services Society of BC on land donated by the City of Vancouver.

    Nearly one in five of the 3,000 Syrians who came to Vancouver have found work and half report that their children are doing well in school, although too many are still waiting for admission to English language programs.

    But 21-year-old Eslam Al Abbas, who is working to become a pharmacist set the tone with her heartfelt thanks for the new feeling of security and opportunity she has discovered since arriving in Vancouver.

    “Thanks from the bottom of my heart,” she said, “for giving us a new hope – and a new life.”

    Adburahman Saeed said Vancouver and Canadians helped him relearn a word he had nearly forgotten in wartorn Syria: “love.” Wherever he went, he reported, Canadians were ready to help and assist him find his feet in this new country. He is still incredulous that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among those who welcomed his plane. He’s now back to using “love.”

    It’s moving to hear these stories and hear, too, of the deep desire for many of these refugees to reunite their extended families here in the safety of Canada.

    But that sense of inclusion can’t be taken for granted. Since the US election, Richmond has seen two incidents of racist posters distributed around the city.

    Other unacceptable acts of intolerance and racial hatred have occurred elsewhere in Canada.

    That’s why Mayor Gregor Robertson gathered the next day with a wide range of community leaders to pledge 101 Days of Action against Racism. This campaign will stretch from International Human Rights Day, which is celebrated Dec. 10, to March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.

    You can see the pledge and sign it yourself at www.101days.ca.

    It calls upon signatories to speak out against hate and discrimination in any form. in the period leading up to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21, 2017.

    “One of Vancouver’s greatest strengths is our diversity, “Robertson said. “Over the course of the last year we have welcomed refugees from around the world, passed an Access Without Fear policy, and recommitted our efforts to being a City of Reconciliation, but there is more work to be done to ensure Vancouver is a safe and compassionate city for everyone.”

    “The 101 Days of Action pledge demonstrates that we believe in shared values of equality, anti-racism, and freedom from injustice. Recent events around the world and close to home have left many of our loved ones feeling vulnerable, and hate can only be overcome when we stand in solidarity and empower each other to speak out—and call out—discrimination when we see it.”

    I signed the pledge, along with four other councillors representatives of Al Jamia Masjid mosque, Battered Women’s Support Services, Gordon Neighbourhood House, Immigrant Services Society of B.C., Migrante B.C., Multifaith Action Society, Khalsa Diwan Society, and Out On Screen.

    I hope you will sign, too. It’s a practical Christmas present to our community of a safer, more inclusive city.

    In that spirit, I’d like to wish Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year to all my friends in the Filipino community.

    By Geoff Meggs

    Share

    New Posts Recently publish post More

    • 28 July 2022
      1 week ago No comment

      BBM states in SONA: “We will endure”

      President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. struck a hopeful note in his first State of the Nation Address or SONA on July 25, 2022. Marcos delivered his speech before a joint session of Congress, with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House of Representatives Speaker Martin Romualdez behind him. “We ...

    • 28 July 2022
      1 week ago No comment

      Tips to Stay Cool and Safe During Extreme Heat

      Surrey, BC – With warmer than average temperatures arriving, the City of Surrey is reminding residents to take the necessary steps to stay safe in extreme heat, how to spot the signs of heat exhaustion, and where to find public pools, spray parks and air-conditioned civic facilities for heat ...

    • 21 July 2022
      2 weeks ago No comment

      Ed Lantin exhibit, Buto-Buto play showcase Filipino artistry in Vancouver

      Filipino artistry is once again in full display in Vancouver with two shows, and the Philippine Consulate General is at the forefront of promoting these events. One is the Edgardo Lantin Art Exhibit, and the second, a theatrical production titled “Buto/Buto: Bones are Seeds”. The Lantin art exhibit and ...

    • 14 July 2022
      3 weeks ago No comment

      “Heaven Can Wait”: ART ALAFRIZ

      To all of you who have shared my 84 year journey through life no matter how brief, I thank you for being part of it as every moment adds spice and color to a life I consider well lived. LIVING WITH CANCER June 16, 2022 at the Surrey Memorial ...

    • 07 July 2022
      1 month ago No comment

      88 Supermarket Celebrates Canada Day

      88 Supermarket celebrated Canada Day by giving away gift certificates and prizes plus a 2022 Mitsubishi RVR for their annual raffle. Present for the raffle was 88 Supermarket President and CEO Ken Chau, and General Manager Khalil Qureshi as well as James Green of Mitsubishi and Rey Fortaleza, official ...

    %d bloggers like this: