Multiculturalism Week in British Columbia is Nov. 13-19, 2016, a time to celebrate B.C.'s rich, cultural mosaic. Margaret-Anne Enders is one of five multicultural champions profiled this week.
Margaret-Anne Enders is passionate about her job as a multicultural coordinator for the Cariboo Chilcotin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Williams Lake. Enders’ role has allowed her to participate in a number of projects aimed at building bridges between cultures and celebrating diversity.
“When I was hired four years ago, I helped to write a multicultural cookbook called Spicing up the Cariboo. We interviewed dozens of local people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, recorded their stories and shared their traditional recipes,” Enders says. “That’s what I love about this job. There is always a story to be told. It’s amazing to learn more about people and where they come from.”
Last year, Enders’ dedication to furthering multiculturalism in her community earned her a British Columbia Multiculturalism Award nomination for her work in organizing a women’s multi-faith event. While honoured at the recognition, the multicultural champion stresses the importance of collaborating with people of diverse heritage and from marginalized populations. She is also quick to acknowledge that many projects have been carried out jointly with fellow nominee and recently retired co-worker, Marilyn Livingston.
“Marilyn was an enthusiastic champion of the Twin Schools project where we pair elementary students from rural First Nations schools with students enrolled in urban schools and encourage them to become pen pals. It helps to bridge the cultural divide and encourages rural and urban students to become more welcoming of one another when they all come together during the high school years,” she says.
One of the more provocative projects that Enders helped to develop was the Dirty Laundry campaign, an anti-racism media strategy directed at challenging stereotypes and raising cultural awareness. The campaign featured people who have experienced racism wearing T-shirts emblazoned with a variety of slogans including, “I was not expected to succeed”, and “Racism stops with me”. Enders says her desire for a strong, multicultural community helps to drive her creative process.
“People need to realize that for a community to thrive, everyone has to feel valued. That’s why multiculturalism is so important. If you are open, willing to learn, and take the time to build those relationships and listen to the voices of the diverse people in your community, you will discover a new richness and a common ground. I promise, it’s more than worth your time,” she says.
The 2016 British Columbia Multicultural Awards to honour B.C.’s multicultural champions will be held November 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