Champions for Cultural Diversity 2018

by Gordon Mihan
November 2, 2018

BATHURST, NB – On Thursday October 25th, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council awarded prizes to ten Champions for Cultural Diversity during its annual Growing Together Gala. This event aims to recognize individuals and employers who are actively working towards increasing diversity and inclusion in New Brunswick workplaces and communities.

This year, the NBMC’s call for nominations was successful in receiving a total of 89 nominations in the different categories. New awards for Immigrant businesses and for Immigrant Youth champions were also allocated in both English and Francophone streams.

The winners are as follows:


Inda Intiar, Woven Cultures, Moncton, N.-B.

Originally from Indonesia Inda started getting involved in her community as soon as she arrived 9 years ago at St. Thomas University and hasn’t stopped since. She is now the Moncton reporter for Saint John based media company, Huddle Today. She co-founded Woven Cultures, a project for children and youth that has the mission to spread the positive impact of cultural diversity and inclusion, and realize that we are richer because of our differences. An alumna of the Canada 150 signature project Canada C3 expedition, she has also been involved in various initiatives related to diversity and inclusion, interfaith dialogue, youth empowerment, and truth and reconciliation in Canada, as well as education projects for children in Indonesia. Having lived her life across eight countries, she is passionate about building bridges between people, sustainable economic development, education and social welfare.


Jandry Kone, Imagine N.-B., Bathurst, N.-B.

As an immigrant from Ivory Coast, Jandry is an introspective young man who is very involved in the community and who has a lot to share. He is involved in other initiatives in the province, such as the Youth Voice Committee organized by the New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate and the Imagine NB’s Leadership Development Program.


Mohamed Khirallah, RôtiCana Coffee, Fredericton, N.-B.

Originally from Egypt, Mohamed arrived in Fredericton with his wife and 2 kids a year and a half ago after being a successful entrepreneur for 15 years in Dubai. He quickly saw the potential of starting a business in New Brunswick while being able to grow a healthy community life. This last part was missing to his family before moving to in New-Brunswick. Here, he says “without working, my wife is busier than me thanks to her social network. My kids are already well integrated and busy with their own activities”.

Within a few months and a few challenges along the way, Mohamed founded Roticana Coffee. He hopes to be able to expand and offer more job opportunities in the near future. If you have participated in recent major events in Fredericton, you might have seen his logo as he likes to sponsor local events and promote other local businesses. More recently, with the help of other entrepreneurs, he founded the New-Brunswick Business Immigrants’ Association (NBBIA). This organisation had the mission of creating business potential and opportunity in the NB market, working towards safe investment environment and economic stability, build trust with all stakeholders.


Nanda et Vanessa Yagambrum, Trésors et Délices, Grand-Sault, N.-B.

In 2008, the Canadian dream became a reality for the Yagambrum family when Nanda, Vanesha, Anjeli and Thivan took a plane towards their new host country, over 14000 KM away from their country of origin, the Mauritius Islands. Far from their extended family, and familiar support systems, they decided in 2011, after Nanda found himself unemployed, to no longer depend on a job to meet their family’s needs. A policeman by training, his professionalism, initiative and drive are what helped him keep moving through the unknowns of how an international food business would be perceived in the small town of Grand Falls. Today, the small family restaurant Trésors & Délices on Broadway Street is flourishing and has added under its name, Trésors & Délices Catering, Trésors & Délices Golf Club, Trésors & Délices Farmers’ Market, and most recently, Trésors & Délices Centre EP Sénéchal.


Mount Saint Joseph Nursing Home, Miramichi, N.-B.

Being the biggest nursing home in New-Brunswick with 133 employees, they started to recruit all over the province and Canada but could not find enough workers to fill in the available positions. They knew they needed to find a solution urgently and decided to go internationally. They interviewed several candidates through Skype and found the right fits with 16 newcomer workers so far. All local employees started getting ready to welcome their new colleagues with the help of their local multicultural association in Miramichi. Locals had a lot of questions but thanks to the information provided by the employees from this nursing home, everybody understood the benefits of immigration and accepted the change that was coming. Since they arrived, the newcomers felt overwhelmed by the kindness of the community, the staff and the residents. Some of the newcomer staff remark how their new work environment “made us feel part of the community”.


 Sunnymel, Edmundston, N.-B.

Sunnymel, which employs about 200 workers, is located in the northern part of the province, in the Edmundston area. Unfortunately, there is not enough manpower in the region for the business to be able to run as it should. For the management, recruiting workers abroad has become something obvious. Everyone in the factory is involved in welcoming foreign workers and their families. The company’s director, Steven Fecteau, pick them up in the morning during the first weeks with the company van specially bought for this purpose. The settlement of the newcomers is also made easier by the fact that the company has entered into agreements to provide affordable and quality housing, that the staff have been trained in creating inclusive communities and workplaces, and that the village residents understand the benefits of immigration. According to the director: “With respect, trust and integrity, when welcoming and integrating foreign workers, we strive to understand and anticipate their needs by putting ourselves in their shoes. Our company’s philosophy and culture can be summed up in one word: empathy.”


Southern Comfort Villa Nursing Home, Bathurst, N.-B.

With more than 28 years of experience in management and 17 years in nursing homes, it is obvious for Lillian Drapeau, founder and General Manager of Southern Comfort, that she continuously needs to find the best ways to bring a comfortable life to all her residents. After facing challenges in finding the right employees to replace retiring staff, she decided to try international recruitment and to learn as much as possible about the immigration process and its regulations. She interviewed 169 people from the Philippines over a few days and found her new team. Once her new employees arrived, the integration went smoothly as she prepared her staff on how to welcome them. She also feels lucky that her most experienced staff is from the Philippines and has been working with her almost since the beginning. This nursing home is an example of diversity, inclusion and integration. Once you walk in, you know people are happy to live there and to work there. As an employee said: “this is our family and second home”.


Banque Nationale, succursale rue Main, Moncton, N.-B.

The National Bank Moncton branch, which has only 10 employees, is exemplary in its diversity: seven languages are spoken fluently and half of the employees are immigrants, which is exceptional for such a small branch. As its representative says: “Our team is the most multicultural banking team in New Brunswick, even in Eastern Canada.” It’s been six years since the director of the branch, David Michaud, decided to get involved in diversity through immigration. His new employees are treated the same than the rest. He gives everyone the chance to prove themselves and grow professionally. Change has not always been easy, but after a few discussions and with some experience, everyone accepts this new synergy. Inclusion has become automatic, including for customers. Cultural diversity brings a lot to everybody.


Kathy Whynot, Fredericton, NB

Kathy defines herself first and foremost as a teacher, with almost twenty years of experience working with new Canadians. She has taught from preschool to adults and everything in between. A few of her highlights include teaching LINC classes at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, teaching in the English Language Program at UNB, and teaching adults at a private school for upgrading skills in Toronto. She has had many other invaluable experiences over her career including teaching Montessori Kindergarten in Beijing, China, and serving as the Executive Director of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for New Brunswick. Her varied work and volunteer experiences provide her with rich perspective, and several lenses through which to understand new Canadians. In her current role, she supports teachers and schools across the province in becoming more culturally and linguistically inclusive.


Junior Kalala, Moncton, NB

Junior is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but he has been living in New Brunswick for about 20 years. He is one of the pillars of the Congolese Association. He plays an important role in the New Brunswick African Festival and has also volunteered several times for MAGMA and CAFI as a culinary art teacher and to help newcomers find a job faster. In 2017 and 2018, he hired, supervised and mentored two participants of the Skills Launch program in Moncton, which is run by the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area. He played a key role in these two young newcomers’ first work experience in Canada. After eight years, he has decided to take on a new challenge with United Way in Moncton to further help his community. Junior’s work philosophy is simple yet powerful: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”