4 min read
27 June 2022

Multiculturalism Day in Canada — How WoodGreen celebrates diversity every day

Imaan Walji

Today is Multiculturalism Day in Canada! It's an opportunity for Canadians to honour the diverse communities around us. Diversity gives everyone the space to freely express themselves, their traditions, and their heritage. That should be celebrated all year long.

Here at WoodGreen, we strive to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Here are just some of the ways that we recognize and support people from a variety of backgrounds at our organization.

Helping newcomers adjust to their new lives in Canada

Newcomer services at WoodGreen help immigrants and refugees to find housing, as well as assist them with government services, healthcare, education, employment, and English lessons. These services can be accessed through the many programs WoodGreen offers, such as Employment Workshops, The Syrian Family Support Program, Better Jobs Ontario, and many more.

Celebrating Afrikan heritage through Rites of Passage

We also offer programs that are focused on enriching the lives of youth from various communities, such as our Rites of Passage youth program. This program is focused on offering resources, guidance and support to Black youth, as they transition into adulthood. It is rooted in an Afrikan-oriented approach and allows participants to explore their identities while working toward their long-term goals.

Through Rites of Passage, individuals participate in the following activities:

  • A 3-day retreat where participants explore their heritage and take part in team-building activities.
  • After the retreat, participants meet twice a week for five months, where they are assisted and coached through the development of their career and life plans.
  • At the end of the program, the participants graduate and are invited back into the community where they commit to having a positive impact within the community.

WoodGreen offers graduates a variety of other programs and services and also ensures they stay connected post-graduation.

Strengthening diversity and inclusion internally at WoodGreen

At WoodGreen, our Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity (DIBE) Committee is one of the ways we’re addressing racism and other forms of oppression. Our vision is for WoodGreen to become a centre for equity — a place both physically and culturally where disproportionality and disparity no longer exist.
For the last 3 years, the DIBE committee has:
• Struck four working sub-committees: Data, Governance, People & Culture, and Education & Communications;
• Conducted a data-driven exercise to capture the demographic data of staff and volunteers;
• Had 55 staff explore the foundational principles of equity through workshops and group discussions, with the remaining staff doing the same later this year; and
• Hosted monthly Learning Circles for all staff to explore the journeys of equity-seeking groups

How you can support multiculturalism

Organizations across the country and the globe are doing their part to ensure that individuals of all backgrounds feel welcome, heard, and acknowledged. On an individual level, you can do your part by ensuring that those in the communities around you feel the same way. You can observe Multiculturalism Day by sharing the above resources and finding more initiatives to share and participate in. Although Multiculturalism Day is a great opportunity for Canadians to honour and respect immigrants and members of diverse communities, we should be creating an inclusive space for everyone every day. Our strengths and richness lie in who we all are and what we bring to this unique fabric we are in the process of creating.

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