What makes Vancouver a welcoming and inclusive city

  • Page Views 242
  • 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

    • 27 July 2017
      3 hours ago No comment

      Philippine government disputes Toronto Sun report on the Philippines

      The Philippine government has belied a report published July 16, 2017, in the Toronto Sun about the situation in the Philippines. A spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte reacted to the report written by Brad Hunter about dangerous cities in the world. “The streets of Manila look more like a ...

    • 26 July 2017
      1 day ago No comment

      SEA Games

      The burden on the Philippine’s Southeast Games campaign to extricate itself from the hole its predecessors dug in the past three editions of the biennial conclave looks to fall on the shoulders of 21 past individual winners who made it anew to the national contingent that will carry the ...

    • 26 July 2017
      1 day ago No comment

      Bella ready to work with Angel

      According to Bela Padilla, she sees nothing wrong if she and Angel Locsin will collaborate for one screen project in the coming days. “Definitely, I would love to work with her!” she states. “She’s not only alluring but is one good actress who’s exciting to watch on screen. It ...

    • 26 July 2017
      1 day ago No comment

      Kim Chiu gets response from Justin Bieber

      A lot of female celebrities are no stranger to fangirling. Some of them even fly outside the country just to meet some of the international personalities they idolize, and some of them regularly follow them on social media like what a normal fan would do. Take Kim Chiu for example. Back ...

    • 26 July 2017
      1 day ago No comment

      Mariel is a reluctant actress?

      But after being crowned Binibining Pilipinas-International, Mariel has proven that there’s more to her than being the daughter of Christopher de Leon and Sandy Andolong. Her resemblance to Liza Soberano is a plus factor as she begins her foray into show biz. What made Mariel change her mind? “I ...

    %d bloggers like this: