Diversity and Inclusion

Vaisakhi celebration

The Diversity and Inclusion Award celebrates outstanding leadership to foster inclusion across diverse communities.

2018 recipients

Shivani Mysuria

Individual youth category

Shivani Mysuria, a Microbiology major at UBC, has made it her personal mission to ensure new immigrants in her community have opportunities to experience the inclusiveness that Vancouver can offer.

She created a program at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House called Children’s Birthday Miracles Vancouver which runs monthly birthday parties for refugee, immigrant, and homeless families. Complete with presents, games, entertainment, and food these parties ensure children and their families feel welcome and celebrated.

Shivani also established Multicultural Cooking nights at her school, where she invites chefs to demonstrate a recipe for immigrant families who then recreate it and incorporate ingredients from their own background. 

In addition, Shivani initiated a program in the community called Positive Leisure for All Youth (PLAY) which matches typical students with those who are differently-abled to play sports, and do other activities together fostering understanding and forging new relationships.

Her community involvement extends to many other organizations and activities, all of which promote inclusiveness and a spirit of community which reinforce Shivani’s belief in the importance of all Canadians feeling welcome and acknowledged in our society regardless of circumstances or background.

Shivani’s thoughtful initiative, motivation, and dedication are hallmarks of what make her a bright young light in Vancouver.

David C. Jones

Individual category

Diversity and inclusiveness aren’t just something to which David Jones pays lip service; they are at the core of everything he does as a respected artist, filmmaker, entertainer, and teacher. David is passionate about the power of arts to educate and influence ideas and opinions and believes strongly that no one should be excluded because of who they are or the challenges they face.

His tireless advocacy in the theatre community and efforts to ensure his own productions reflect the reality of our diverse city are notable. He goes to great lengths to make sure the Vancouver theatre community is considerate of the necessity to provide opportunity and access to people of all ages, abilities, sexual orientation, colour, and culture. To this end, he created a Diversity Report Card which he offers each year after diligently attending local shows and recording where there are gaps and opportunities on Vancouver stages to better reflect the world in which we live.

He is a frequent speaker on the importance of diversity and inclusion in theatre and an ardent advocate for LGBTQ representation on stage and screen through his own productions and those he has participated in for TV networks and production companies.  

Learn more about David’s work  or follow him on social media @iamdavidcjones.

PACE Society

Organization category

The PACE Society provide critical support for sex workers with the aim of alleviating disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, substance use, and health concerns associated with their circumstances.

Based in the Downtown Eastside, the non-profit organization offers low-barrier support and programming to promote safe working conditions and meet the complex needs of the community they serve. Programs are peer-driven and follow a model of harm reduction through education and support. They include one-to-one support, drop-in services, peer support groups, peer health navigation services, outreach services, and occupational health and safety.

In 2016, PACE launched the Gender Self-Identification Project which assists transgender and non-binary persons with legally changing their names and gender markers to help overcome one of the most significant barriers they face; that those identifiers don’t match their government-issued identification. A common result of this is that individuals avoid seeking health care and become increasingly isolated.

The success of this initiative geared to ensure inclusivity for the whole community has made an incredibly positive impact on those helped by it. In addition, PACE has taken the extra step of opening the program to any transgender or non-binary person in Vancouver needing support, recognizing the need to go beyond their mandated support for sex workers to ensure everyone who needs this support in Vancouver has access to it.

2017 recipients

Zool Suleman, individual category

Canadian Immigration lawyer and policy consultant Zool Suleman has been advocating against racial profiling and Islamophobia since the events of 9/11. As a lawyer and a publicly engaged advocate, Zool has served as a powerful civil rights champion for immigrants, refugees, and those who face discrimination.

After being a Law Clerk at the Federal Court of Canada’s Appeal Division in 1990-91, Zool opened his own law firm, Suleman and Co., practicing Canadian immigration and refugee law. A refugee from Uganda who arrived to Canada in 1972, Zool’s clients have often described him as both compassionate and understanding.

Since 2005, he has been an active member of the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Working Group. He has also organized many seminars, made numerous presentations and published papers on various immigration topics for the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, the Canadian Bar Association, Amnesty International and the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.

He has also presented talks on immigration and social justice issues at the University of British Columbia Law School, Simon Fraser University, and at the University of Windsor Department of Communications. In addition, he has been a sessional law instructor at Douglas College.

Zool calls Vancouver his home and is a strong supporter of arts and multicultural activities happening throughout the city. He founded and published, Rungh, a national South Asian multi-disciplinary arts journal in the ‎1990's, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre and the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, amongst others.

Out On Screen Film & Video Society’s Out in Schools Program, organization category

The Out On Screen Film & Video Society is one of Vancouver’s leading queer organizations. Out On Screen works to bring light to, celebrate, and advance queer lives through film, education, and dialogue, and has produced the Vancouver Queer Film Festival for nearly 30 years. In 2004, the complementary Out in Schools program was created to address the root causes of homophobia, transphobia, and bullying.

Out in Schools harnesses the power of film to bring the lived queer experience into Vancouver classrooms. The main goal of the program is to use independent film and video with facilitated group discussion to create transformative experiences in schools about the LGBT2Q+ experience in order to combat homophobia, transphobia, and bullying. Its aim is to transform British Columbia schools into inclusive spaces for all sexual orientations and gender identities.

2016 recipients

Golsa Golestaneh, individual youth category

As a permanent resident with refugee background and person of color, I have dedicated my works on improving the lives of marginalized people, particularly immigrants and refugees. I have tried to give the unprivileged individuals the voice that they are not given in the society using different approaches. I have spoken in public at different events and places such as The World Refugee Day (Vancouver Public Library), UBC Summer Institute, Liu Institute for Global Issues (UBC),etc. and shared my experiences as a refugee, a woman, and a newcomer student in Canada.

I am also a youth advisory team member at Fresh Voices - Vancouver Foundation where with my team and I advocate for the rights of refugees and immigrants and work in order to influence the policies surrounding this community. I am also a Leave Out Violence BC youth leadership member where I have been building bridges between different marginalized communities such as First Nations, LGBTQ, and foster youth through photography and videography. I am also a Board member and editor at BEATS Magazine where I have interviewed and portrayed immigrant and refugee women as well as sharing my life story.

Through different movie projects I have created documentaries, short films, and informative videos on topics such as sexual violence, violence against women, the struggles of racialized women in Canada and back home, struggles of newcomer youth in Canada, etc. I have also been a facilitator at ISS of BC's Multicultural Youth Program where I have educated youth on different social issues.

David Ng, individual category

David is a queer, intersectional feminist, social justice advocate who has been actively involved in grassroots campaigning since he was 14 years old. He has since co-founded and worked on numerous campaigns and projects including youth sexual health initiatives, feminist anti-violence campaigns, anti racist projects, and other forms of fun, radical, anti-oppression work.

He is the co-founder of Love Intersections, which is a Vancouver based project that seeks to challenge racism, through increasing the visibility of LGBTQ2+ people of colour from different cultural backgrounds, through sharing stories of love and resilience.  Love Intersections films have been screened in 14 film festivals in over 5 countries all over the world - the films are also used in curriculum across the country to engage with the issues of Race, Diversity and Inclusion.

Pacific Immigrant Resources Society, organization category

Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) is a non-profit, community-based organization that has been providing services for refugee and immigrant women and their young children in Vancouver since 1975.

We have helped thousands of women from all around the world to gain the knowledge, skills, confidence and friendships they need to feel at home in Canada, and to participate more actively in their community.

PIRS provides a number of programs that support refugee and immigrant women and their young children in learning and practicing English, making new friends, gaining self-confidence, understanding their Canadian society, and in exploring and celebrating our Canadian diversity.

PIRS provides two program models: ESL for women with a childcare/preschool component; and women’s development programs in English, for women with intermediate English skills.  Our program models provide women with awareness and key facts about their community, elements that are necessary to achieve the community involvement and integration that our participants aspire to.

2015 recipients

Roan Reimer, individual youth category

At 18 years old, activist Roan Reimer has already made a major contribution to the city’s LGBTTQ community. As a volunteer on the Vancouver School Board’s PRIDE Advisory Committee, they (Roan’s preferred pronoun) was instrumental in developing the board’s new inclusionary sexual orientation and gender identities policy. Using collaborative leadership skills, Roan established a team of youth who also worked to inform the school board’s policy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, bravely coming forward to share their experiences and ideas.

A passionate advocate for transgender rights, Roan's efforts to create educational environments where transgender and genderqueer students are respected have impacted schools across Vancouver. These youth now have the right to use preferred gender pronouns, chosen names, and the washrooms that match their gender at their schools.

The Diversity and Inclusion Award (Youth) acknowledges Roan Reimer’s groundbreaking work for transgender and genderqueer students throughout Vancouver.

Jaime Adams, individual category

Jaime Adams is the founder of the Forest and the Femme Society, a not-for-profit organization that helps marginalized women explore nature. Jaime formed the society in 2012 to support the high number of women on the Downtown Eastside living with the effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and similar conditions.

By providing an alternative to participants' day-to-day surroundings, the society assists in the healing of women who face multiple barriers including homelessness, developmental disabilities, and mental and physical disabilities. The positive social effects of Forest and the Femme’s work have been felt throughout the community, with other service providers noting participants' positive transformations.

In filling the gap in recreational services available to vulnerable women, Jaime has created a space where friendship and community can replace fear and isolation, and self-esteem can grow.

The Diversity and Inclusion Award (Individual) recognizes Jaime Adams for her commitment to the wellness of the women of the Downtown Eastside.

Vancouver Street Soccer League, organization category

The Vancouver Street Soccer League addresses the issues of homelessness, marginalization, and addiction through sport. This volunteer-run, 10-team soccer league’s members are all at-risk men and women living primarily in the Downtown Eastside.

Since 2009, the league has welcomed everyone regardless of skill level, sex, ethnicity, religion, or physical or mental ability. The league also provides meals, supports travel to provincial and international tournaments – including the Homeless World Cup – and hosts social events for its players.

Through their involvement with team sport, players build friendships, self-esteem, and positive futures. For many disadvantaged Eastside residents, the Vancouver Street Soccer League has been the gateway to greater health and happiness.

The Diversity and Inclusion Award (Organization) recognizes the Vancouver Street Soccer League for its commitment to bringing sport and social opportunity to the city’s most vulnerable populations.

2014 recipients

Diego Cardona, individual youth category

Diego Cardona is 16 years old, and moved to Canada from Colombia seven years ago.

He is actively involved in the Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council focusing on youth engagement and empowerment. He also served on the advisory committee of a youth summit organized by the Vancouver Foundation and provincial government’s Representative for Children and Youth.

From a child refugee fleeing violence to a passionate citizen and articulate community organizer with a commitment to listening to different voices, Cardona has already had incredible achievements. He is ready to continue with advocacy and public service from British Columbia to Ottawa.

Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, individual category

Chief Dr. Robert Joseph has dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by intolerance, lack of understanding, and racism at home and abroad.

He helped inspire a rising national movement to revitalize the relationships between Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians with the Walk for Reconciliation. During the event, 70,000 people marched in downtown Vancouver.

The Heredetary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, Chief Joseph is the ambassador for Reconciliation Canada and the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society, member of the National Assembly of First Nations Elder Council, and a special advisor to both Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Indian Residential School Resolutions Canada.

Internationally, Chief Joseph has spoken at peace conferences and participated in delegations around the world, including the United Nations, Vatican City, Israel and Gaza, South Korea, and Mongolia.

QMUNITY, organization category

QMUNITY is BC's leading resource centre for the lesbian, gay, trans, bi, and queer (LGBTQ) community, touching the lives of more than 35,000 people every year.

Since its beginning in 1979, QMUNITY has provided a strong voice, information, resources, and a safe space for people to feel comfortable being themselves.

QMUNITY delivers innovative community programs that reach a wide range of audiences, with the goals of enhancing health and wellness, providing education and training on queer issues, and advocating for LGBTQ people and communities.

2013 recipients

Walter Brino, individual category

The late Waldo Brino, who was vice president of the Vancouver Latin American Cultural Centre and a member of the City’s Multicultural Advisory Committee, received the award for his life-long commitment to social justice issues and building cross-cultural relations. He was instrumental in establishing outreach and support for the homeless, organizing inclusive dialogues for residents, and working collaboratively to reach the most marginalized populations in the community. Waldo sadly passed away in 2013, and the City is honoured to celebrate his legacy.

YWCA Metro Vancouver, organiation category

The YWCA Metro Vancouver received the award for its commitment to building better futures for children, youth, women, and families of diverse communities in Vancouver. The award also recognizes the YWCA’s work in helping those who are economically marginalized and supporting the unique needs of the young and old.

2012 recipients

Joyce Lam, individual category

Joyce Lam is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT). Lam received the award for her dedication to creating a community of Asian Canadian theatre artists in the Lower Mainland which has led to increased diversity in theatre audiences.

Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra, organization category

The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO) is a professional concert orchestra devoted to performing inter-cultural music on a large scale. VICO received the award for reaching out to younger audiences, including elementary school students, and providing learning opportunities about diverse cultural and musical traditions through discussions after performances.

2011 recipients

Sadie Kuehn, individual category

Sadie Kuehn – writer, educator, and lecturer – believes passionately in the work of empowering community and fostering inter-community understanding. For over 30 years, she has made significant contributions to the province and region in matters related to women, youth, multicultural, human rights and policy matters. Her broad achievement as a leader for social justice has deep influence on others and she is a great role model for the younger generation.

The Source/La Source Newspaper, organization category

The Source/La Source Newspaper has provided a dynamic platform for the celebration of multiculturalism and diversity in the city of Vancouver. It has devoted attention and space to promoting smaller grassroots community events and diversity issues. This bi-weekly, bilingual publication is staffed by volunteers whose backgrounds reflect the diversity of the city itself, in terms of race, culture, language and age.

Honourable mention

As a long-time educator in diversity and human rights, Eric Wong has contributed to many non-profit organizations as a volunteer. The array of community and private sector partners with whom Eric has worked reflects his deep commitment to diversity and to building an inclusive society.

2010 recipients

Leila El-Khatib, individual category

Leila has worked tirelessly against racial profiling, and has put together comprehensive educational sessions on Islam and Middle Eastern Awareness, and delivered the programs extensively to Border Security Forces, RCMP, Burnaby Police and Vancouver Police Department.

Through her work, she showed tremendous courage at a time when it was difficult to speak up about the issues, and has systemically challenged practices which were discriminatory and unfair to members of the community.

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH, organization category

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH) is a non-profit, volunteer-driven community service agency which began in 1970.

For more than thirty years, SVNH has been serving and building connections between various groups in the community – such as immigrants, refugees, low income families, seniors and youth – to develop a caring, welcoming, and inclusive neighbourhood.

They offer more than 100 programs in various languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Spanish.

2009 recipients

Joy Manuel, individual category

Recognized for her long service to children and people in need, her ability to bring hope and opportunity to people facing obstacles and challenges, and for being a role model to the community.

Vancouver Adapted Music Society (VAMS), organization category

Recognized for expanding awareness of, and appreciation for, the talents of musicians with disabilities, and using music as a platform for inclusive participation.

2008 receipients

Romi Chandra, individual category

Recognized for his long term commitment and involvement as a young person to anti-discrimination issues, and for his capacity to lead and motivate his peers and other youth.

Vancouver Moving Theatre, organzation category

Recognized for developing accessible interdisciplinary theatre, events and community art influenced by Vancouver's Pacific Rim culture.

2007 receipients

Norma Sanchez, individual category

Recognized for organizing city-wide mental health symposia for ethnic communities, health care providers and other groups.

The Trout Lake Knitters Group, organization category

Recognized for their significant contribution to community building and cross-cultural caring in the city, creating hats, mitts, socks, scarves, and blankets for the Downtown Eastside's Evelyn Saller Centre.

2006 recipients

Sherman Siu Man Chan, individual category

Recognized for his work searching for new services for immigrants and refugees, including low-income individuals and those who need legal aid and advocacy.

Creative Peace Network, organization category

Recognized for bringing together Canadian, Middle Eastern Arab and Jewish youth to participate in arts, dialogue and team-building exercises.

2005 recipients

Sadia Ramirez, individual category

Recognized for reaching out to and organizing hundreds of workshops for immigrant and minority communities, and helping thousands of clients with safe and secure housing.

Vancouver Native Health Society, organization category

Recognized for providing a range of health and social services to residents in the downtown eastside, some of whom are among the poorest and most marginalized members of society.

2004 recipients

Roz Davidson, individual category

Recognized for teaching the value of multiculturalism in song, stories and actions.

Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, organization category

Recognized for its wide range of services, including preparing and serving meals to the homeless in the Downtown Eastside and delivering meals to seniors and the disabled.

2003 recipients

Sukhdev Grewal, individual category

Recognized as an advocate for women's health issues among the culturally diverse communities of Vancouver, especially the South Asian community.

411 Seniors Centre, organization category

Recognized for serving a diverse community and offering a wide range of programs and services to those age 55 and older.

2002 recipients

John Halani, individual category

Recognized for his continuous involvement in community development and voluntary service.

A Step Ahead Foundation, organization category

Recognized for their work combating racism through school programs, and for other new ideas that unite advocacy and education with the arts.

2001 recipients

Clive Mallory category

Recognized for his help developing new policies and approaches in welcoming culturally diverse seniors.

2000 recipients

Teresa Whitehouse, individual category

Recognized for her work in helping to create a better understanding and appreciation of Vancouver's cultural diversity.

A Step Ahead Foundation, organization category

Recognized for their work combating racism through school programs, and for other new ideas that unite advocacy and education with the arts.

1999 recipients

Donna Spencer, individual category

Recognized for her dedication to culturally diverse dance, theatre and visual arts.

Collingwood Neighbourhood House, organization category

Recognized for its commitment to cultural diversity and community harmony through its programs and actions.

1998 recipients

Carousel Theatre, organization category

Recognized for its long history in innovative programming that addresses cultural diversity issues.

1997 recipients

Gabriel Yiu category

Recognized for his contribution to cultural harmony through his media commentaries on cross cultural issues.

Mount Saint Joseph Hospital, organization category

Recognized for its leadership in the development and provision of culturally sensitive health services.

1996 recipients

David Diamond, individual category

Recognized for his theatre work, which provides interactive drama that explores diversity issues.

Early Childhood Multicultural Services, organization category

Recognized for outstanding work in providing multicultural sensitivity to early childhood professionals.

How we honour diversity

celebrate-diversity

Official celebrations and observances

We recognize the valuable contributions of Vancouver's diverse communities is through special celebrations of International Women's Day, Black History Month, Vancouver Pride, Diwali, and others.