Ladan Zahrai

Celebrating diversity on the coast

A bean dish from Belize or a Punjabi folk dance from India, the many cultures represented in the city will be showcasing their traditions

A bean and rice dish from Belize or a Punjabi folk dance from India, the many cultures represented in the city will be showcasing their traditions for the multicultural festival this weekend.

A Celebration of Multicultural Diversity has been an annual event for the North Coast Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society since its inception in 2011. This year’s event will include a table for the Syrian family who recently moved to Canada.

President of the multicultural society, Louisa Sanchez, said she expects tables representing Thailand, China, Vietnam, Singapore, the Caribbean, Mexico, Lithuania, Sons of Norway, First Nations, the Association des francophones et francophiles du Nord-Ouest (AFFNO) and Belize — where Sanchez immigrated from.

The organization received support for its activities this month from the provincial government. Prince Rupert’s society received $6,750 to challenge racism and promote diversity.

Educational opportunities, anti-racism events and workshops in the province receive funding from the Organizing Against Racism and Hate program.

Approximately 30 per cent of B.C.’s population are immigrants. In 1993, the B.C. government established the Multiculturalism Act to acknowledge diversity and encourage racial harmony.

Ladan Zahrai is coordinator for the society and is helping organize the event. She immigrated from Iran in 1980 when she moved to the U.S. and then Canada.

“Fear comes from the unknown and once you realize that people from different parts of the world have the same hopes and dreams, we are much more similar than we are different,” Zahrai said.

The new funding from the province will go into other programs the society offers in the community. They are a part of the Student Ambassador Program at the NorthWest Community College in March, and they are planning an art contest in the school district with the theme around diversity in February.

The province also announced $2.4 million in funding for adult-literacy programs on Nov. 18 and some of that money will be going to the society.

A Celebration of Multicultural Diversity will take place at the Highliner Plaza Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 1-4 p.m. For more information, or if an organization would like to participate, contact 250-622-2915 or ncimsspr@gmail.com