Award-Winning Program Concludes with Celebration at Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden.

On May 14, 2014, some 170 students from three Vancouver high schools participated in a final day of workshops and then a special closing celebration for the Mosaic Institute’s initiative entitled “Next Generation”: the South Asian Canadian Global Citizenship Project. The project – in which Mosaic collaborated with the Vancouver School Board and which was made possible by the financial support of the RBC Foundation – wrapped up in the serene by inspiring setting of the VanDusen Botanical Garden.

“Believe in yourself, get out there, and use the keys you have to open doors in life.” That was the advice given to students from Sir Winston Churchill, David Thompson, and John Oliver High Schools by bestselling author and motivational speaker Ranj Dhaliwal, the day’s opening keynote speaker. This message was reinforced throughout the rest of the day as the young men and women participated in workshops that included Human Rights and Religious Expression; Gang Violence and the South Asian Community; Understanding Racism, Oppression, and Empowerment; Islamophobia Post 9/11 Responses; and Critical Media Literacy: Examining Assumptions and Stereotypes. The students also heard first-hand from another special guest, Pardeep Singh Nagral, who in 2001 successfully challenged the Canadian Boxing Federation to allow him to keep his beard (an article of his Sikh faith) while boxing. The decision in favour of Pardeep by the Canadian Human Rights Commission literally changed the face of sport in Canada.

For the “Next Generation” community service project, the three participating schools spent months  raising funds to support the Abbotsford, B.C. – based GirlKIND Foundation and its efforts to prevent and respond to the scourge of ‘gendercide’ in some communities of South Asia. A large portion of the funds raised will be going to the Aarti Home in Kadapa, India, a safe place for girls who have survived acts of gender-based violence to recover and receive quality education.  At the afternoon’s closing celebration, students from the three schools used film and other media to deliver powerful and sobering representations about their own responses to the issue of ‘gendercide’; and to describe how they had gone about raising both awareness of the issue and funds to support GirlKIND’s efforts to respond constructively to it.

Following the student’s presentation- and their announcement that collectively they had raised more than $2000 for GirlKIND – Mosaic’s Executive Director, John Monahan, and GirlKIND founder Deesh Sekho stood side-by-side to hand out Certificates of Completion to all those who had participated in this important initiative.

Altogether, 700 young minds in both Ontario and in British Columbia have been enriched by the South Asian Canadian Global Citizenship Project since its inception in 2010.

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