Chamber virtual town hall to discuss racism, diversity, inclusion

June 12 digital meeting, set to run from 10 a.m. to noon, open to all

Issues of diversity, racism and inclusion will be discussed when the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce hosts its next Virtual COVID-19 Community Town Hall later this week.

Scheduled to take place on Friday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to noon, the meeting, like previous town halls, will feature updates and information – presented by the panel of local elected representatives from all three levels of government and special guests – related to the pandemic.

However, this week the chamber is also going to make time to discuss issues of diversity, racism and inclusion in response to the incidents, protests and discussions occurring around the globe in recent weeks.

“We felt that it was important to provide an opportunity for open, meaningful dialogue within our own community. We are fortunate to live in a country and community in which diversity is appreciated and encouraged but we know we are not immune to racism and prejudice. This is an issue that affects residents and businesses and is an important concern for our members,” said Ritu Khanna, executive director of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber strongly condemns all acts of racism and prejudice in all forms and upholds the B.C. ‘Different Together’ pledge.

Friday’s event will include Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell; Cici Liang of the Surrey-White Rock Community Engagement Society; White Rock businessman and former city councillor Bill Lawrence; chef Vikram Vij of South Surrey restaurant My Shanti; Ernie Klassen of the White Rock Pride Society; radio personality Nira Arora; Nadia Irshad of Glarea School; and Karen Dosanjh, who is one of the people behind the book Untold Stories: The South Asian Pioneer Experience in B.C.

It was released recently by B.C.’s lieutenant governor, Janet Austin, in response to race-based violence and discrimination against the Asian community, and states in part: “Our BC holds diversity as a fundamental value at the heart of the success, strength & resilience of our communities, workplaces, schools, public and private institutions.”

Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, released a statement last week in which he said, “We must fight racism with the same sense of unity and determination as we are demonstrating in our battle against the pandemic. Like all other Canadians, our businesses benefit from the rich diversity of our citizens …we must work together to build a society that is based on respect and equality for all of its members.”

Community leaders, business owners, and residents are invited to share their experiences and perspective.

If someone has been affected by these issues and has a story of resilience, hope, and/or inspiration that they would like to share, they are encouraged to contact the Chamber at 604-536-6844 or info@sswrchamber.ca.

Chamber Town Hall sessions are free and open to everyone. This is the seventh session in its series of biweekly town halls since the onset of the pandemic. So far, more than 500 people have participated.

Pre-registration is required and a Zoom link will be sent to registered participants. More information can be found on the Chamber’s COVID-19 resource page at www.sswrchamber.ca/COVID-19.

For general inquiries, please contact the Chamber office at 604-536-6844 or by email at info@sswrchamber.ca.

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