The Regional Diversity Roundtable Newsletter: May 2016
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In this Issue:
  • Asian Heritage
  • Save the Date!
  • We are hiring!
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A Thought From RDR...

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month...cautiously

In May 2002 the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month to celebrate the various communities' heritages as well as contributions to society. It is also a time to highlight the histories of the communities as they are tied to Canada, which may not always be evident in the dominant historical narrative. For example, Chinese Canadians first settled in Canada in 1788 and in 1858 Bakersville, British Columbia became the first Chinese community in Canada. On the other hand, South Asians first immigrated to Canada in 1903 - particularly to British Columbia - and by the end of 1908 there was a community of 5209. They were predominantly men from Sikh Punjabi farming communities in India.

Today, Asia is cited as the largest source of immigrants for Canada, of which most arrive in our Peel region. Irrespective of how many times we hear them, the numbers for Peel are staggering: South Asia is the number one reported visible minority (48.6%), while Chinese (8.0%), Filipino (7.9%), and Arab (4.0) are part of the top 6, the Sikh population is the highest in the GTA, Peel has the highest proportions of immigrants in the GTA (50.5%), while India (23.3%), Pakistan (6.9%), Philippines (6.8%), China (3.7%), and Sri Lanka (3.1%) are the top 5 countries of origins for immigrants, and Punjabi and Urdu are part of the top languages spoken in the region. 

Moreover, while a collective noun is formally used to encompass all those that originate or are able to trace their ancestry to this geographical area, it is important to note that there is great diversity in histories, trajectories, cultures, religions, ethnicities, languages, and dialects. Asia is far from homogenous, something we see in Peel daily. 

Whether settling in Canada during the 1900s or in the last 5 years, Asian immigrants face multiple systemic challenges. Early on they took the form of disenfranchisement, head taxes, labour restrictions, immigration quotas, and anti-family reunification laws. Today, as the lines between first and second generation blur, the barriers are more insidious and complex. This includes the 'Canadian Experience' ask, minimizing of foreign credentials, gaps in social services, and lack of representation in key positions. What can our human service sector in Peel be doing more of, doing better, and doing on a larger scale in order to service the communities adequately? 

Also during this year's celebrations, the RDR encourages everyone to think about how the following two sit together: settlement of immigrant communities and the colonization of indigenous lands. More specifically, how do we celebrate the contributions of Asian immigrants to forming a 'here', when that 'here' was violently taken from another community. Particularly in the context of the 'we are here, because you were over there' narrative, keeping in mind the colonization some Asian countries have faced themselves. We encourage you all to think about the way in which such intercultural conflict can be used to build awareness and allyship between differently marginalized communities, as a start to deepening diversity, equity, and inclusion work. 

We invite organizations to share their Asian Heritage month stories and thoughts with us through Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, build awareness, and engage in critical conversations.

-The Regional Diversity Roundtable

RDR News

RDR Receives funding for the D&I Charter of Peel

The RDR has received 2-year funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to continue the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Charter of Peel. Scroll down to read more about the project!

We are Hiring!

Access the complete job posting on our website: Community Outreach Coordinator - D&I Charter of Peel

Save the Date! RDR's AGM and Conference

The Regional Diversity Roundtable AGM and Conference

Centring Diversity for Workplace Equity
Wednesday June 29th


Welcoming New RDR Staff

The RDR is growing! We are pleased to introduce our new part-time Program Manager Reem Attieh. Read Reem's words on joining the RDR:

I am excited to be joining the Regional Diversity Roundtable (RDR). I come with a strong background in academic research and extensive experience in policy development. As the Program Manager, I hope to strengthen RDR’s role in advancing equity and diversity in Peel Region by promoting evidence based initiatives and policies. Through my connections with several academics, I plan to explore opportunities for collaboration on research projects that would provide a better overview of issues facing minority and immigrant groups in our region. In addition, I will connect and work with the various organizations that are already working on promoting equity and inclusion.

I believe that a key component of a healthy and vibrant community is ensuring that the voices and perspectives of all members, particularly those who are most marginalized, are reflected in policies, initiatives and actions.

I look forward to meeting and working with the communities and organizations in Peel Region.

Reem can be contacted at

Board Member Opportunity

The complete posting can be accessed on our website:

Here We Grow Again

The RDR would like to welcome Catholic Family Services Peel Dufferin, Family Transition Place, and Peel Leadership Centre as the newest members of the roundtable. All three are non-profit charitable organizations. While the first two provide direct social services to clients across Peel and Dufferin, the Peel Leadership Centre provides support growing leadership and organizational capacity in the non-profit sector. We are excited to have their voices and expertise at the roundtable. To learn more about their programs visit their websites: CFSPD, Family Transition Place, PLC.


Purchase RDR Capacity Building Resources

Diversity & Inclusion Charter of Peel

The D&I Charter of Peel Celebrates its Growth!

We are thrilled to announce that the D&I Charter of Peel has been approved for a two-year Grow Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to continue building a diverse, equitable and inclusive Peel community! 

Over the course of Phase 2, we have recognized the need for diverse community residents to feel connected to and live out the Charter commitments. In a region that is one of the most linguistically diverse in the country (3.9% of Peel residents, and 15.6% of Peel seniors have no knowledge of English or French, according to the 2011 Census), we have pinpointed the need to engage in bottom-up systems transformation around diversity, equity and inclusion by mobilizing non-official language speaking groups that typically do not have access to mainstream community programs around the D&I Charter’s unifying vision and commitments.

With this objective in mind, over the next two years, thanks to the generous support from OTF, we will be engaging in a community-driven process of translation and transliteration of the D&I Charter of Peel into the top 10 languages in the region. The Charter will also be converted into accessible formats!

In addition to widespread translation of the Charter, we will also be developing a Community Leadership Program for ambassadors from these various ethno-linguistic communities in Peel, in effort to propel the implementation of the Charter forward within local communities. Please join us in recognizing OTF for its commitment to building healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario, and stay tuned for more information about the project as well as ways to get involved.  We are looking forward to the growth of the D&I Charter of Peel Initiative!

For more information, please get in touch with our Project Lead, Amrita Kumar-Ratta.



Call for Writers - Insights, the D&I Charter's Community Blog

We are looking for writers for our new website! Are you interested in contributing to Insights - the D&I Charter of Peel's community blog? We are seeking individuals interested in writing 500-700 word reflective pieces around issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and its connections to the Charter in Peel Region. For more information, please contact the D&I Charter Project Lead Amrita Kumar-Ratta at


Resource Corner

Report - Changing Leaders, Leading Change: A Leadership development model for marginalized youth in urban communities

Report - Uprooted Education
April 2016, FCJ Youth Network

Report - Searching for Home: Reimagining Residential Care
April 2016, Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth

Report - Ontario's Social Assistance Poverty Gap
May 2016, Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth

Report - Unlocking Potential: Empowering our Youth through Employment
May 2016, Healthy City Stewardship Centre

Webinar - LGBT+ Inclusion and Self-Identification
June 23 and 28, Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion


Community Events

Event - Race Against Racism
June 4th, Peel Police


Arts - Move Nights & Change Makers
June 2016, The Art Gallery of Mississauga


Training - Training and Information Fair
May 24, Peel Newcomer Strategy Group

Research - Soft Skills Project 


Consultation - Youth Homelessness
June 1, Peel Children and Youth Initiative


Campaign - 20k Homes in Peel
June 4-10, Peel Children and Youth Initiative


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