Champions for Cultural Diversity 2019 Winners

Saint Andrews, NB – On Thursday October 24th, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council awarded prizes to ten Champions for Cultural Diversity during its annual Growing Together Gala. This event aims to recognize individuals and employers who are actively working towards increasing diversity and inclusion in New Brunswick workplaces and communities.

The winners are as follows:

Delta Hotel, Saint John

The Delta Hotel, Saint John, was a truly deserving recipient in the Large Business Category. The hospitality industry always needs to cater to a diverse client base while simultaneously managing employees from around the world. However, in building their cross-cultural skills, the Delta Saint John by Marriott went even further to earn this year’s award.

By striking up strategic partnerships with newcomer agencies in their local city, the hotel built on a policy of hiring newcomers that dates back to the 80s. Now over 30% of their employees were born abroad. Their work policies reflect this diversity, including flexible time management, cultural competency training, and a suite of mentoring, coaching, and personal development initiatives geared to building teamwork across cultural divides.  Their impact runs through the entire community. They’ve become an active voice with other employers on the benefits of hiring newcomers, and are highly active in supporting programs aimed at youth and reduction of poverty.
It was therefore with great pleasure that NBMC named the Delta Saint John by Marriott as the 2019 New Brunswick Large Business Champion for Cultural Diversity.

Villa Providence, Shediac

Villa Providence showcased the increasing diversity of the shoreline town of Shediac as they took home the award in the Large Business Category. Despite its population of less than 7,000, Shediac is proving to be a hub for the arrival of newcomers, and the Francophone Immigrant Reception and Support Center of Southeastern New Brunswick (CAFi) opened a satellite office in Shediac to respond to this increase in growth.

Its sunny beaches are particularly attractive to retired seniors, many of whom have chosen Villa Providence as their home. Villa Providence therefore formed a strong relationship with CAFi and together they provided training in mentoring, professional development and cultural skills to the Villa’s growing number of newcomer staff.
Villa Providence showcases its diversity in different ways. Whether it’s celebrating cultural festivals, creating a prayer room or launching a 5-week program for international students, they are constantly looking for ways to add diversity to their organization.

Kinderland Daycare

Kinderland was recognized for working continuously on creating an atmosphere where our youngest citizens celebrate the diversity that the world has to offer. These youth-focused activities are the key to the future of this province, and Kinderland’s commitment to such inclusion is clear.

Over a quarter of their staff were born abroad, which has, in turn, drawn a far more diverse clientele to their door. The children are provided with international toys, and celebrate a wide range of cultural holidays. To achieve this, they have partnered with the Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF), including taking part in NBMC’s Skills Launch program. Through the program cohort held by our MCAF partners, Kinderland took in a newcomer employee as a trial placement that has since transitioned into a full-time lead position.

Chantal’s Steakhouse

After having dreamed of opening a restaurant, Chantal Sirois founded her steakhouse with a commitment, not just to excellence in dining, but to providing opportunities within her organization. As a designated employer under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) she helps newcomer staff become part of the restaurant through her special mix of orientation sessions and work techniques.

The restaurant’s innovation is evident in every aspect of its business; for example, newly arrived staff members with language barriers may refer to cooking instructional photos as just one of the ways in which they develop their cooking skills. Chantal does not try to do everything herself; She believes that mentors are essential to the professional and personal success of these employees and is always looking for leaders in the community who are willing to give advice.

Stevenson Casimir

Originally from Haiti, he has continued to work to attract newcomers to the region, with more than one-third of his employees at Atlantic Star Uniforms coming from abroad. These staff are provided a wide range of professional development as they are supervised, developed and promoted through the ranks of the organization.

Highly engaged in the community, he has partnered closely with the local newcomer support organization (CRNA-NO) and now serves on their board of directors. He is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Francophone Welcoming Communities for the region of Edmundston, Haut Madawaska and the Malicite First Nation. He is actively engaged in the business community to promote the benefits of hiring newcomers, and he also took part in NBMC’s New Conversations tour to add his voice and views to what else can be done in his region.

Somaditya Das

His dedication as Chair of the Saint John Asian Heritage Society, coupled with his project management mentorship of international students and newcomers, has made him an invaluable part of so many lives in the city. Always looking to put others in the limelight ahead of himself, he has shared their successes through introducing a quarterly newsletter celebrating their achievements, festival and news from all of the Asian communities in Saint John.

In choosing our awards, NBMC also looks to the impact on the broader community, and here, too, his efforts shine through as he conducts painting classes and workshops and creates decorations for the festivals he organizes. He also introduces unique new events each year, such as the Asian restaurant hop called “The Foodie Crawl”.

Louise Pelletier

Louise Pelletier works with Francophone immigrant women in the Saint John region, offering a course for pregnant women and ensuring that all her newcomer patients can successfully manage the complexity of the health system in their new community.
She draws on both her training as a nurse practitioner who has completed her doctorate, and the practical knowledge gained during her travels in Africa and Europe. Even her colleagues are international and she works alongside a Romanian doctor to provide care.

Her work does not end when she leaves her clinic. The help and inclusion of newcomers is part of his personal life as well, having welcomed a young immigrant into her home for 18 months to help her integrate. She remains active in many aspects of immigration, cultural inclusion and social justice, having founded a cultural diversity clinic, participated in the New Conversations tour, and being elected to the board of directors of the association supporting female empowerment.

Gizem Ensari

Having originally arrived as a student from Turkey, Gizem Ensari has thrown herself into not only connecting with her local community, but to improving it. Actively involved with the Multicultural Association of Fredericton as well as the Ville Cooperative Community Centre, she shows through her daily lives that she believes in making her new community a richer, more supportive, and more culturally-thriving place to live.

Husoni Raymond

An accomplished speaker and budding advocate, Husoni Raymond founded the Debate Society at St. Thomas University and is an accomplished member of the STU Moot Court Team. His commitment to change also echoes in the field of cultural and racial inclusion. From founding the inaugural Black History Month at St. Thomas University through to becoming the first-ever black Student Union President of both St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick, his political and social drive is clear.  In addition, he represents the interests of students throughout the province in his capacity as Vice President of the New Brunswick Student Alliance.

He is also passionate about celebrating the beauty of literature and having engaging intellectual discussions and therefore organizes both poetry nights and panel discussions on a wide range of topics. He is consistently promoting diversity through his efforts and creating more inclusive policies on a wide range of student issues, as well as working to create more inclusive spaces and events.

Lucky Kasendwe

Upon arriving in Greater Moncton to take her Bachelor of Social Work at University of Moncton, she immediately made herself part of the fabric of the community. She took on roles as Vice President of their student council to organize activities in the social justice committee. She also took on a position as coordinator of the university’s “step by step” twinning program, which aims to facilitate the integration of international students into the Canadian and Acadian community by pairing them with local volunteers.

Outside of the university she also took on the communications role for the NB Congolese Association of New Brunswick where she was in charge of organizing Black History Month activities with focus on cultural diversity and acceptance of our differences.
She is also part of the Young Leaders Dialogue Group Plus Moncton. In this group of young people from 15–30 years of age they work with other organizations to plan activities that build cultural sensitivity and awareness. Her involvement in this group led to her current role as project officer for the City of Moncton.  She has also been heavily involved with activities such as the Cine-Dialogue, the Workshop on Intersectionality and Gender Identities with the River of Pride, Woven Cultures, and the exhibition of the works of young people at the library of Moncton, plus the International Evening.