A group that develops and delivers innovative peace programs and a long-time advocate for immigrants and refugees are this yearâ€™s recipients of the City of Vancouverâ€™s Cultural Harmony Awards.
The Creative Peace Network is the recipient in the organization category for addressing one of the most complex and challenging issues facing the world today â€“- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through its â€œPeace it Togetherâ€ summer camps, the Network has brought together Canadian, Middle Eastern Arab and Jewish youth to participate in arts, dialogue and team-building exercises which let them interact and learn from one another. It also runs a year-round community outreach program called â€œLearning Commonsâ€, which includes a monthly discussion group open to all members of the community who want to seek out new view points and work on peace-promoting initiatives. The Network is almost entirely self-funded through its own fundraising efforts and run by more than 200 volunteers.
Sherman Siu Man Chan is the recipient in the individual category for his work in assisting new citizens. Chan emigrated from Hong Kong in 1987, and has used his social work background to help local immigrants. He is currently the Director of Settlement Services for MOSAIC, an immigrant service agency in Vancouver. He has also worked at Surrey Delta Immigrant Services Society and as a bilingual counsellor for MOSAIC. Throughout his career, he has sought out new services for immigrants and refugees, including low-income individuals and those in need of legal aid and advocacy.
Chan has also served on the Canada Council of Refugees and the Canadian Immigrant and Settlement Sector Alliance, providing a strong B.C. voice in identifying issues from a western perspective. As a volunteer, he helped establish the BC Settlement and Integration Workersâ€™ Association; serves as a lay director of the Pro Bono Law of B.C.; and is also a board member of the Pacific Community Resources Society.
The independent jury who decided on the winners also named the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies, and Mohan Singh Matharu for honourable mentions.
The award recipients will be honoured with a tree planted in their names in the Cultural Harmony Grove, under the Burrard Bridge on the Kitsilano side, on November 10 at 2:30 pm. The awards are sponsored by the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and the City's Advisory Committee on Diversity Issues.