On January 14, 2019, Surrey Immigrant Advisory Roundtable (IAR) hosted an informal Dialogue on Newcomers and Civic Engagement. One of the goals of the Dialogue was to share the results of the IAR Report released last fall. The report identified some key barriers for immigrants to be more involved in their community, particularly in the processes/organizations that make decisions about their community. A number of recommendations were presented in the report, including the need for more targeted outreach to ethnic communities and an audit of selection criteria for board positions.
The Dialogue brought together a number of unusual suspects at Surrey City Hall, ranging from IAR members, immigrant board members and community advocates who shared their experiences in applying and serving on boards to representatives of organizations with a mandate to provide training and strategic advice to boards across BC, such as the VantagePoint and BoardVoice and local community partners like Surrey Libraries, PCRS and MOSAIC.
The evening was facilitated by Jorge Salizar who brought his own experiences in addressing systemic power struggles in Canada through his community work with the Fresh Voices refugee youth group. As a result of the Dialogue, each attendee put forward at least one action that s/he would act upon in 2019. Additionally, a number of concrete actions were put forward for other participating organizations to champion solutions that will make Surrey a place where everyone belongs.
The Dialogue was supported by the Surrey LIP project team. The report with a summary of discussion points and actions will be made available in February 2019.