The third Community Roundtable was held in Surrey, at the City Centre Library, on September 13th with an exceptional group of participants that included volunteers, residents, and members of the local RCMP.
When asked about how to build inclusive communities, Surrey participants frequently brought up the wealth of cultural festivals supported by the City of Surrey: events like the Fusion Festival and Vaisakhi, which all cultures can gather to enjoy. There was general agreement that there should be more government support for such events. Community kitchens were also seen as an excellent way to bring people together, particularly when used to cook multicultural dishes that could be shared at block parties.
Surrey residents were also concerned about their city’s reputation, which shapes perception of its immigrant population as well. Many had experienced negative reactions when they revealed where they were from. They also laid an emphasis on the need for everyone, including insular immigrant communities, to push themselves to experience a variety of different cultures while living in Canada. Some suggested that the government could implement programs to better introduce newcomers to their communities.
The final question was whether the participants knew people who felt they were less valuable for being born Canadian. As in Coquitlam, people were divided on the issue, but quite a few were sympathetic. Being an immigrant often gives people a stronger connection to their family roots. Those who have been living in Canada for a long time might feel as though they have no unique story to tell of their own. Most agreed that education and learning to understand why someone might feel that way were the best ways to move forward.