Champions for Cultural Diversity 2016

by Gordon Mihan
November 20, 2016

The objective of this award is to recognize employers and individuals for their good practices and leadership in the areas of promoting diversity, inclusion and integration of newcomers in the New Brunswick labor market.

Our call for nominations was a real success and we received a total of 48 appointments in the different categories. Each of them deserves recognition for their efforts, helping newcomers and immigrants to settle and integrate into our communities.

We would like to thank all the candidates for their efforts and for their work with our immigrant community and all other employers and community leaders who continue to promote cultural diversity across the province. You have no obligation to do what you are doing and we really believe, in our eyes, that all our nominees are champions of cultural diversity.

Of the 48 appointments we received, 35 appointments were made in the Anglophone community and 13 in the Francophone community. Of these appointments, we chose 6 winners in three different categories: large companies, small and medium-sized businesses and an individual category.

To select the winners, we created a committee made up of six representatives from the immigrant settlement agencies throughout NB.  The NBMC would like to thank the members of the committee: Abby David of the YMCA Newcomer Connections in Saint John, Bonnie Doughty of the Multicultural Association in Fredericton, Agathe Robichaud of CAIENA in Acadian Peninsula, Kwame Boateng from the Multicultural Charlotte County Association, Mohamed Bagha from the Multicultural and Resource Center for Newcomers in Saint John and Jocelyn Stevens from PRUDE for their time and commitment to the selection process. We conducted follow-ups with each candidate and on-site visits with the finalists. This was a long, fair process to ensure that the winners were chosen impartially.

Congratulations to all of our winners! Thank you also to all candidates and those who took the time to nominate employers and individuals.


Ecole Samuel-de-Champlain

Samuel-de-Champlain School is the only Francophone School in the city of Saint John. They have 35 countries represented in the school and last year they received more than 40 foreign students.

They received the largest number of Syrian children among all Francophone schools.  This is probably due to the fact that the school is always available to help families of newcomers and welcome them with open arms.

The school personnel follows cultural sensitivity training to be better prepared for the challenges that can occur with such a culturally diverse group of students. The team of classroom teachers, teaching support, support staff for newcomers, education assistants, tutors, drivers, administrative assistants, etc … all go well beyond their duties to ensure that newcomers feel comfortable in school.

The school also organizes information sessions for newcomer students and their parents. Annie Soucy, Deputy Director, described the school as a big family, everyone is welcome and the school makes sure all students feel at home. “Choosing our school is choosing a family, a community.”

Thank you Samuel-de-Champlain School for your commitment to the immigrant children!


Fancy Pokket

Fancy Pokket employs 70 people, 31 foreign. It is increasingly difficult to recruit production line employees in the area. Without immigrants it would be very difficult for the company to stay in business. They are hardworking individuals who are thankful for their jobs.

One employee at Fancy Pokket has been working with the company for 14 years. He has had some fairly serious health problems during this time here and between the owner and the management staff, on different occasions the company has assisted him with his financial obligations during times when he was unable to work. He is an extremely loyal individual. Case in point – a few years ago, there was a fire at one of the conveyors. The building was evacuated and the fire department dispatched. This individual was the last to leave the building and actually tried to put out the fire. Emergency personnel had to physically remove him from the building.

Another employee has a child in her home country who is ill and Fancy Pokket has assisted her financially as well in sending her family money to aid in the medical bills involved. Moreover, on several occasions the company has assisted temporary workers with their paperwork to become permanent residents.

Fancy Pokket continuously helps newcomers in many ways including delivery of bread to Syrian newcomers in the recent months and promotion of multiculturalism in the region.

Employees are extremely happy at the facility, they get various accommodations to be able to attend classes or travel to see family. Fancy Pokket makes sure their employees are happy and that they are integrating well at work and in the community.

Thank you Fancy Pokket for helping your employees feel at home. We are sure you have their loyalty and gratitude!


Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada

Out of 21 employees with the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, 11 are foreign born. The employees represent 11 different countries: Canada, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Belgium, France, Japan, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Syria.

Success story: Their employee, Yuiko Minami- Diyanova, from Japan, moved here 15 years ago. She came alone with no family and spoke no English or French when she arrived. We could find no Japanese families in Moncton at the time. She was lonely and isolated, culturally and linguistically. The team got worried that they were going to lose her. Then one day, she went to Walmart and she saw a family there that looked to be Japanese. She asked them and sure enough they were one of the only Japanese families in Moncton at that time. She got much better after that, she needed friends from home and they helped her to integrate! She is now a happy employee married to another company dancer Sergiy Diyanov originally from Ukraine. They have a little one and he speaks four languages- Japanese, Russian, English and French. Yuriko and Sergiy have been with Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada for 15 years.

Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada are huge advocates for cultural diversity. It has been a proud part of their organizational identity since the company was founded in 2001. They actively promote and encourage others to hire a diverse workforce because there are only advantages to do so, our lives, workplace practices and communities are enriched with diversity. Thank you Atlantic Ballet Theater for your commitment to the cause!

Atlantic ballet performs all around the world and have recently also opened an after school program for children, the classes are multicultural and the demand highly exceeds the offer. Atlantic Ballet teaches our next generation not only dance, crafts and arts but also how to grow culturally dexterous.


Subway Restaurant – Miramichi

On the 11 stores open in Miramichi and Bathurst area, Subway employs 80 people. In the restaurant nominated to the award, Highway 11 Subway, one of the employees is a recently immigrated to Canada. Subway has offered her first work experience in Canada. Perry Flann, co-owner, says it is hard to find people to fill the vacancies and some immigrants have helped fill the gaps over the years.

A success story: One of their past employees, a Filipino citizen won the Miramichi chamber of commerce employee of the year award. He got nominated by the public, a pride to the organisation but also to the whole immigrant community.

“When you have good employees, you take care of them!” – Yes indeed you do and then you collect the rewards! Thank you Subway Miramichi for believing in the immigrant employees.


Daniel Amegadze

Daniel Amegadze has been in the province for the past 10 years. He is a model for the integration of immigrants in the Chaleur region. He is currently the President of the Board of Directors of the Multicultural Association Chaleur Region. Daniel is a great promoter of cultural diversity in the region.

When he arrived here, he did not get any of the services available today to newcomers. His technique to integrate was to get into as many volunteer opportunities as possible so he could get to know people. “To get integrated you have to get involved in your community”.

He is now a renowned figure on multiculturalism in Chaleur region and is implicated in a variety of activities helping newcomers, especially with youth. He plays soccer with young immigrants and gives them tips on how to get better integrated in the area.

Thank you Daniel Amegadze for dedicating so much of your time to the cause of multiculturalism and to the immigrant community!


Patrick Polchies

Patrick is a Councillor with Kingsclear First Nation and was a key partner in organizing and hosting play dates at the Wulastuk elementary school for the Syrian children and kids in the Wulastukw community. He also donated, with the help of Teed Saunders Doyle & Co – Chartered Accountants, over 26 pairs of new sneakers for the Syrian children and helped organize a drumming and story-telling circle for Syrian families staying at the hotel in Mactaquac.

He is very happy with what he could do to help and is proud of the gift he received, made by the Syrian children. He has their poster, full of their drawings and messages, hanging in his office. In his words, “I don’t need an award, I did what I thought those kids needed, my reward is this poster on my wall”.

Thank you, Patrick, for your amazing work welcoming newcomers to our province!