The District of Saanich’s work to increase and celebrate diversity resulted in the town receiving a community partnership award from the Vancouver Island African Heritage Association.
Association president William Goldiet, who is also a member of the district’s variance council, said in his presentation to Mayor Fred Haynes that the organization has in the past attempted to contact previous mayors and the district at large without big success.
“But this man stands here…we feel we have a good working relationship,” Goldiet said Monday, May 16, in the council chamber. At Saanich, he added, “we feel we have a real partner to work together… Government needs the people and the people need the government.
The association represents people living here now whose heritage can be traced back to any of the 55 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It was formed in 2004 as an umbrella body to give a stronger voice to people of African descent and focus the efforts of diverse community groups working on specific projects and events related to culture and diversity.
Haynes called it a real privilege to accept the award.
“The work I do is empowered by this incredible council, and the entire council stands by my side in partnership with you and all members of our beautiful, diverse community.”
Later in an interview, Haynes noted that the Saanich Police Board provides a good example of the district’s work to increase cultural diversity, with Dr. Shelly Niemi, a Cree/Métis woman who is Director of Aboriginal Education for the Greater Victoria School District, and newcomer Dionte Jelks, who is of African American descent, among four members of her community.
For more information about the association, visit ahavi.ca.
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