NETWORKING: Cultural competency is critical in Maple Ridge, too

VIDEO: In response to Black Lives Matter, the CN Network conducted a number of local interviews

By Christina Shearme/Special to The News

The Community Network recently hosted a series of interviews in response to the Black Lives Matter conversations going on in our world.

Our final interview in the series was with Yves Chinnapen, the president of the Ridge Meadows Multicultural Society, who spoke with us about the strides our communities are making to support the needs of newcomers.

Our communities are seeing wonderful growth in the number of services available to newcomers, as well as community members wanting to get involved and help.

The multicultural society, serving Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows, has grown from 40 members in 2017 to more than 1,300 members in 2020.

There are numerous programs and services available – including Local Immigration Partnership LIPs) serving Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows; Immigrant Settlement Services of B.C with mentoring and volunteering opportunities; Multicultural Women’s Group at The Family Education & Support Centre; Work BC, a new hub at the Maple Ridge Library; Success, involved local churches and volunteers in the community – all working to support our newcomers.

One of the ways we, as community members, can continue to work towards a welcoming community is by offering connection.

Chinnapen recommends sharing the love of good food and music as one of the most natural ways to start that connection and find a way to engage.

It is our goal to have a warm and welcoming community for all who live here.

We would like to celebrate the great work that is being done and invite everyone to continue to learn with us as we strive for our goal.

In the interview we learned that cultural competency requires more that just knowing about culture, it asks us to look at some of our habits.

It asks us to grow in how we do our day-to-day tasks such as grocery shopping or waiting for a bus.

It asks us to have openness to communicate with a community member even if words are not an option.

RECENT COLUMN: NETWORKING – Healthy racial dialogue facilitates change

Here are six tips from the interview on how we can develop our own cultural competency.

1. Openness to initiate with multicultural community members

2. Curiosity

3. Cultural self-awareness and how your experiences shaped this.

4. Knowledge of your cultural world view and framework.

5. Skills in non-verbal communication

6. Demonstrate your ability to act in a supportive manner – skill of empathy.

Qualities that truly move us forward in our goal to have a warm and welcoming community include tangible actions like educational and working spaces that value diversity and are inviting to all.

Where possible, with current restrictions, to safely have more community events that are welcoming to all, including great food and music, and lastly to look within our homes, businesses, and organization to make sure that we have cultural competencies at every level.

The Community Network would like to thank Yves for helping to educate us on this important topic.

If you would like to learn more, please check out our interview (above), or if you would like to learn more about the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Network check out our website, or email myself, coordinator Christina Shearme at info@resourceyourcommunity.com.

– Christina Shearme is the coordinator for Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Comunity Network

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• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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