Multiculturalism Week in British Columbia is Nov. 13-19, 2016, a time to celebrate B.C.’s rich, cultural mosaic. The Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society is one of five multicultural champions profiled this week.
The Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society (CVIMS) has been a community anchor in the Nanaimo-area for the past 37 years. Founded in response to the Vietnamese refugee crisis, CVIMS has grown into an organization aimed at helping people from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds – primarily immigrants, refugees and temporary foreign workers.
“From settlement services for newcomers to Canada, to language classes and employment programs, we are always looking for new and unique ways to serve our clients,” says Hilde Schlosar, CVIMS’S executive director. “We also work closely and collaboratively with other service providers and community and government agencies to promote multiculturalism and foster inclusiveness in our community.”
In 2015, this dedication to furthering multiculturalism and diversity earned CVIMS a nomination for a British Columbia Multicultural Award. The nomination was one of many ways CVIMS has been recognized as a multicultural champion for its commitment to being accessible and responsive to, as well as reflective of, its diverse local community.
“One of our proudest achievements was the creation of the Safe Harbour program in 2006. Safe Harbour is an award-winning program that trains businesses to create a safe place for anyone who experiences discrimination of any kind,” Schlosar says. “Today, Safe Harbour is facilitated by the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC and has been expanded across British Columbia and Canada.”
Other innovative CVIMS projects have included a multicultural speaker series, a culturally diverse health fair and a video to commemorate the organization’s 35th anniversary. The video shares immigration stories told by newcomers to British Columbia and captures Schlosar’s own experiences moving to Canada from Germany as a child. Schlosar encourages other B.C. organizations to create welcoming and inclusive communities where diversity is embraced and celebrated.
“Organizations and businesses can start the conversation by adopting a statement of principle that clearly outlines their idea of what an inclusive society should look like,” Schlosar says. “They can follow up by ensuring hiring practices are fair, equitable and consider cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious backgrounds. These may seem like small steps, but a rich, multicultural society is a tremendous reward.”
The 2016 British Columbia Multicultural Awards to honour B.C.’s multicultural champions will be held Nov. 18 in Vancouver.
British Columbia Multicultural Awards: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/celebrating-british-columbia/honours-and-awards/bc-multicultural-awards
2016 B.C. Multiculturalism Week: https://news.gov.bc.ca/12795