Wade Grant, keynote speaker at ISSofBC’s Annual General Meeting Tuesday evening, promoted the continuation of organized dialogues among First Nations people, urban Aboriginals and new Canadians as a means of learning from shared history in order to build a stronger Canada.
Grant, currently the Economic Development Administrative Coordinator for the Musqueam First Nation and an elected Councillor on the Musqueam Chief and Council, drew parallels between his own ancestry – his grandmother belonged to the Musqueam First Nation and his grandfather was an immigrant from southern China – and the new relationships being formed among the three communities he mentioned.
He stressed the importance of dialogues to talk about “our histories and our similarities” in order to “learn from them.” “We can carry forward the message of reconciliation and hope for First Nations, new Canadians and Aboriginal people” and “move forward to create a great country,” he added.
Another highlight of the AGM, held at the Holiday Inn Broadway Centre, was the presentation of bursary awards to two young immigrant recipients to support their post-secondary education.
Maria Rajanayagam, Vice-President of the ISSofBC Board of Directors and chair of the Community Relations Committee, presented the Eleanor Strong bursary to Ismaela Magbanua and the Jim Siemens bursary to Gokarna Baniya.
“When I learned the news that I was chosen as the ISSofBC Eleanor Strong recipient, without a doubt I was so happy,” said Ismaela Magbanua during brief remarks. Magbanua, who arrived in Canada in 2008 with her family from the Philippines, hopes to work as a Medical Laboratory Assistant after completing her studies at the Vancouver Community College.
Jim Siemens bursary recipient Gokarna Baniya is pursuing a bachelor degree in electrical engineering at BCIT. Born in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal, Baniya said his goal is to become a successful electrical engineer and be a role model for newcomers to Canada like him.
Two long-serving Board members – April English and Joseph Chan – retired from the Board and a new member, Reshmeena Lalani, was sworn in to join Maria M. Braungart, Martha Jane Lewis, Nicolas Lozovsky, Joann McKinlay, Maria Rajanayagam, Manchan Sonachansingh, and Jim Tallman.