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Changing the mind of the city : the role of the Hastings Institute / EEO in building multicultural readiness in Vancouver’s host society Brock, Samara

Abstract

The world is undergoing the largest human migration in history: that from rural to urban. It is expected that sixty percent of the world population will be urban by 2030. This unprecedented human migration will bring together increasingly diverse populations to live together in growing urban centres. Canada’s cities are no exception to these global trends of urbanization and immigration. While immigrants make up 18% of the population of Canada, more than half live in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. While this diversity will help to enrich our cities, it could also mean increased ethnic tensions and, in the worst cases, ghettoization or violence. Ths study looks at ways to engage Canada’s current residents or "the host culture" in an active multiculturalism, in which they learn to co-adapt with diverse immigrants. In particular, it focuses on training that has been carried out over the past fifteen years by the City of Vancouver’s Hastings Institute and Equal Employment Opportunity program to build cross-cultural understandmg in members of Vancouver’s host society. Using a case study approach framed by phonetic research and experimental ethnographic methods, this study looks at the impacts of this training over time and asks whether the programs of the Hastings Institute offer an effective approach to helping to prepare Canada’s cities for immigration. Relying on interviews carried out with past trainees, employees and trainers of the Hastings Institute and Equal Employment Opportunity program, as well as key documents such as Council reports and training materials, this study gives an overview of the work of this organization and gives recommendations for how Vancouver and other cities can better build multicultural readiness. It also discusses how provincial and federal governments can become more engaged in multicultural initiatives and programming at the local level. Overall, it finds that in order to better prepare Canada’s host society for increasingly diverse cities, we must re-envision our approaches to multiculturalism at the local, provincial and federal levels.

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