Thompson Rivers University

Celebrating community and cultural diversity

  Posted on: March 20, 2017

TRU & KIS Diversity walk

Running parallel to the four days of IDays festivities, the Intercultural Intersections Conference featured workshops, keynote speakers, and research presentations. Moreover, the conference provided an avenue that allowed for constructive conversation in regards to indigenization, internationalization and intercultural learning.

Scholars and practitioners joined forces to explore concepts concerned with the intersectional and intercultural aspects of educational growth and connectivity.  As part of TRU’s mission to increase cross-cultural awareness, the ongoing process remains closely tied to the community.

Most recently, Kamloops Immigrant Services (KIS) has collaborated with TRU’s Social Work and Human Services programs. Practicum students Natalie Cruz, Kennedy Healey, Desiree Deslongchamps and Jasmine McMillen have been crucial to the planning process for the annual Walk to Embrace Cultural Diversity.

Jasmine, also a co-chair for the Kamloops Chapter of World University Service of Canada, (WUSC TRU) is currently working towards bringing the Student Refugee Program (SRP) to TRU. The student-led non-profit organization focuses on global development and empowerment of disadvantaged youth and offers hope in the form of education.

“It’s important for the multicultural community to come together; it’s more than about tolerance; it’s about acceptance and understanding,” Jasmine said.

The walk honours the United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, established in memory of the lives lost during the Sharpeville Massacre.  South African police killed sixty-nine protesters on March 21, 1960 during a peaceful demonstration against apartheid pass laws, which was an identification system that required black African citizens to carry pass books when outside their designated areas. Pass laws were established to limit movements, segregate the population, manage urbanization and distribute migrant labour.

The United States’ recent executive order to ban travelers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries has been a cause for concern.  “The current rhetoric in the news is greatly disturbing,” Graham Specht, Diversity Outreach Coordinator, said.

Ultimately, Graham’s hope is that the event focuses on the efforts of “communities rising in support of diverse neighborhoods and inclusive attitudes. Our wish is that the walk promotes care, concern and a sense of urgency to help others.”

KIS is also working alongside the Kamloops City Council, who are collectively striving to safeguard cultural diversity and inclusiveness. Graham collaborated on a statement that rallied against complacency and racism, and encouraged inclusiveness and acceptance.  City Councillor Arjun Singh recently delivered the anti-racism and anti-discrimination declaration on February 28.

Representatives from the Kamloops Multicultural Society; Kamloops Chinese Cultural Association; Sikh Temples and Sikh Cultural Society; and Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society will be sharing their cultural perspectives.

The community is welcome to walk in solidarity and celebration of cultural diversity and inclusiveness. Desiree said, “Everyone is welcome to join, share and celebrate.”

The Walk to Embrace Cultural Diversity takes place on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The walk starts at Wilson House at 115 Tranquille Road and culminates at Kamloops Immigrant Services, 448 Tranquille Road.