The District of Saanich’s work to increase and celebrate diversity has resulted in the municipality receiving a Community Partnership Award from the African Heritage Association of Vancouver Island.
Association president William Goldiet, who is also a member of the district’s board of variance, said in his presentation to Mayor Fred Haynes that the organization has tried in past to reach out to previous mayors and the district in general without much success.
“But this man is standing here … we feel that we have a good working relationship,” Goldiet said Monday (May 16) in council chambers. In Saanich, he added, “we feel we have a real partner to work together … The government needs the people and the people need the government.”
The association represents people living here now whose heritage traces to one of 55 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It was formed in 2004 as a unifying body to create a stronger voice for people of African descent, and focus the efforts of the various community groups working on specific projects and events relating to culture and diversity.
Haynes called it a real privilege to accept the award.
“The work I do is empowered by this amazing council, and all of council stand together with me in partnership with you and everyone in our beautiful, diverse community.”
Later in an interview Haynes noted the Saanich police board offers a good example of the district’s work to increase cultural diversity, with Dr. Shelly Niemi, a Cree/Metis woman who is director of Indigenous education for the Greater Victoria School District, and newcomer Dionte Jelks, who is of African American heritage, among its four community members.
For more information about the association, visit ahavi.ca.
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