Cultural diversity walk in Kamloops aims to end racism

By Chad Klassen
March 18, 2016 - 5:26pm

KAMLOOPS — Canada has a long history of welcoming newcomers from countries around the world. Most recently, Canada has opened its doors to more than 25,000 Syrian refugees who have fled their homeland. 

But for some, discrimination will play a role as they adjust to their new lives in Canada. On Friday, Kamloops Immigrant Services hosted the Walk to Embrace Cultural Diversity, an opportunity to help break down the barriers.

WATCH: Full story by Reporter Chad Klassen 

Carrying flags from all nations, a parade of people made its way down Tranquille Road, as a show of solidarity that racism of any kind of no longer tolerated. 

"I think of my ancestor and their struggles to be who they were, to make a living, to feed their children. All of these people who have been through the same battles and struggles to have dignity when no one else gives it to them. That's why it's important for me to be here today," said Kamloops resident Winifride Parisone.

Parisone's great grandfather had to leave the German area of Russia after the Franco-Prussian War in the 1870s, migrating to Saskatchewan. It's there where they faced discrimination. 

"When my dad was born in 1919, and growing up the first 20 years of his life, the Klu Klux Klan had tried to infiltrate Saskatchewan at that time and convince small villages that they didn't need Natives, Germans, and Catholics."

As a result, her father struggled through school dealing with harassment.  

"He was bullied and beaten up as a kid, and yet he always believed in treating people fairly, in being a team member in a community."

The walk for cultural diversity is about bringing awareness and inclusivity to people of different ethnicities. 

Paul Lagace from Kamloops Immigrant Services says this city is quite inclusive to newcomers. 

"When we look at south of the border here, we're probably looking a great deal more inclusiveness here, not only from a political point of view but also from a community point of view. So I think this community is quite inclusive, very supportive," Lagace said.

For Parisone, she says cultural inclusiveness shouldn't be reserved for this one day, but it should become part of people's every day. 

"We need to remember that every human being has a dignity about being a human being, no matter where they're from and what they believe in, and it's precious to them, and we can share our cultures, we can share our faiths, and we can unite as human beings caring about human beings."

Green Party leader in Kamloops