United against racism
Artur Wilczynski, Canada’s ambassador to Norway, gave the keynote address at the Feb. 22 SUCCESS community forum. (photo from SUCCESS)
SUCCESS’s Safeguarding Our Communities, Upholding Our Shared Values: A Community Forum on Immigration and Racial Discrimination was a full-house event at University of British Columbia Robson Square on Feb. 22.
The keynote speaker, Artur Wilczynski, Canada’s ambassador to Norway, shared his family’s story about how they survived the Holocaust and came to Canada. “I am a Polish, a Jewish, a Quebecois. Most important, I am a Canadian,” he noted.
“Diplomacy doesn’t give you immunity from discrimination but gives you a platform to speak against it,” he said.
“It is important for Canadians to speak out against various forms of discrimination and xenophobia. As an immigrant to this country and the son of Holocaust survivors, I have been privileged to serve my country as an ambassador and senior official. It is why I feel it is my obligation to work towards a more inclusive and respectful Canada.”
He thanked SUCCESS for allowing him to share his story at the forum.
Wilczynski’s keynote address was preceded by two panel discussions. Panelists included, among others, Dr. Robert Krell, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre founding president and outreach speaker; Dr. Gurdeep Parhar, University of British Columbia faculty of medicine; Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, Reconciliation Canada ambassador; and Sarah Al-Qaysi, program assistant, SUCCESS. SUCCESS chief executive officer Queenie Choo welcomed the audience to the forum. Among the sponsoring organizations of the event were the Jewish Independent, Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
At the facilitated discussion for Call for Actions, a group of young audience members raised questions on how they could share the knowledge they learned at the forum with those who were not able to attend.
SUCCESS will be launching a series of community roundtables across Metro Vancouver. These facilitated conversations will create a platform for community members to share and reflect on thoughts on diversity and inclusion, while engaging them in thought-provoking discussions regarding cultural integration in our community – to build safe, strong and enlightened neighbourhoods. Each session will be held at one of SUCCESS’s local offices or another accessible community location.
SUCCESS will also create a documentary video, featuring interviews with immigrants and community leaders, about the value and contributions of immigrants in Canada. The video will be distributed through multiple channels, including a special screening video launch, online and social media networks, and grassroots outreach through high schools and universities to help educate future generations about the stories of immigrants in Canada, who we are and where we are from.