Our second Community Roundtable was held on August 30th at the Coquitlam Public Library, where volunteers and members of the local community came together to participate in a candid discussion on how to bring together their neighbourhoods.
We began by discussing the value of inclusive communities, and what the best ways to promote them might be. Members of the community suggested concrete steps for bringing people together, such as throwing barbecues or simply inviting people over for dinner. Many said that the friendships formed between their children helped forge a relationship with their neighbours. The desire to feel included in the community was unanimous and agreed upon by many.
We turned the conversation to the source of negative or positive attitudes toward newcomers, and the reason for such attitudes at the conclusion of the first discussion. Many contributors pegged the media and family perceptions as the main culprits, or drew thoughtful connections to local problems like the hostility generated by the housing crisis.
When asked whether they, or others they knew, had ever felt excluded from Coquitlam because they were “non-immigrants”, a huge variety of opinions were shared. Some admitted they felt that immigrants have more opportunity than people born in Canada, or that they were finding it hard to adapt to new cultural shifts. Others argued that this sense of isolation was merely a loss of privilege as the dominant culture in Canada moves away from its colonial roots. Despite the difficulty of navigating these complicated topics, everyone in attendance did a remarkable job of staying respectful and engaged.
The frank discussions at the Roundtable tapped into a wealth of diverse opinions on the challenges faced by Coquitlam as a community. We would like to thank everyone who participated, including the volunteers, without whose help it would not have been possible. We hope that future Roundtables will yield equally passionate discussions that pave the way to restoring a sense of belonging for everyone.