by: Nooreen Pirbhai
National Inclusion Advisor
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
As Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO states, “our cultural diversity is a stimulator of creativity. Investing in this creativity can transform societies. It is our responsibility to develop education and intercultural skills in young people to sustain diversity of our world and to learn to live together in the diversity of our languages, cultures and religions, to bring about change.”
As the National Inclusion Advisor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, I have the privilege to hear about the ways in which Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies are developing and/or adapting mentoring programs and processes to ensure the inclusion of the rich cultural diversity in their regions. More importantly, I get to be a part of conversations that relate to how Big Brothers Big Sisters can meaningfully engage and mentor culturally diverse children and youth, some of whom are newcomers to Canada.
Throughout all of these conversations, there is one common understanding: the process of being truly inclusive needs to be a multi-pronged approach that does not just look at programming, but an intentional process that requires agencies to ensure diversity and inclusion is fully embedded within an agency’s day-to-day and long-term work. This includes an agency’s strategic priorities, governance, human resources, community engagement, partnership development, and other internal and external activities. It is a process that recognizes that it has no end date, rather it is a journey that we must consciously stay on, meaning that we all still have a lot of work to do. In honour of this, and World Day for Cultural Diversity, I challenge all of us to reflect on our programs and practices to see how we can become more culturally inclusive.
Lastly, to continually celebrate and reflect on our personal and organizational achievements on World Day for Cultural Diversity, and throughout the year, join the grassroots campaign, Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion. The campaign encourages people and organizations from around the world to take action in supporting diversity. You can join the campaign via their Facebook page, which serves as a platform for people around the world to share their experiences through posts and videos. Be sure to check it out!
Happy World Day for Cultural Diversity!
For more information on World Day for Cultural Diversity, go to: www.un.org