MOUNT Pleasant Neighbourhood House has been honoured for its commitment to social inclusion at this year’s annual AMSSA Diversity Awards.
The awards are organized by the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC (AMSSA) to recognize members’ innovative contributions to diversity in the province.
Receiving AMSSA’s Riasat Ali Khan Diversity Award on behalf of the House, Morie Ford, Family Literacy Outreach Coordinator, spoke passionately about her work.
“Racism and exclusion have no place in the Canada that those of us in this room know and love. There are other values that helped shape our country,” said Ford.
“Those values include inclusion, immigration, diversity, respect, multiculturalism—and it is those values that this award celebrates today.”
Ford oversees the Family Literacy Outreach program, which matches volunteer English tutors with new immigrants to Canada and their children, helping families develop their English skills, connect to community resources, and explore their new neighbourhood.
This ethos of community and diversity is at the core of all the services provided at the House. Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House offers programs for immigrants, refugees, newcomers and longtime neighbours.
Each year the House serves more than 7,200 people from all walks of life, and every generation—from infants to seniors. Participants, volunteers and staff come from more than 40 countries and many Indigenous nations from around the globe.
“Diversity and social inclusion are basic tenets of our work at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House,” said Executive Director Jocelyne Hamel.
“This is the red thread—our collective passion—that is woven throughout all our programs and service.”
The award ceremony was attended by the family of Riasat Ali Khan, the renowned religious and community leader who founded Vancouver’s oldest mosque in 1963.
Khan spent 40 years championing diversity and helping immigrants integrate into Canadian communities, before he tragically passed away in 2003.
Founded in 2005, AMSSA’s Riasat Ali Khan Diversity Award honours his memory and celebrates organizations that promote diversity.
Winners must show excellence in innovating, developing, supporting, and implementing a program relating to settlement, integration, multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion.
For volunteer Ryan Avola, Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House succeeds at “bringing as many voices as we can together to learn about each other’s stories and find the best ways to support each other and lift each other up.”
Award winners are also recognized for collaborating with the community, showing leadership in promoting diversity, creating a positive outcome, and inspiring others to make change.
“Any time you get too stuck in your own world, your own experience, you kind of miss out on the ways that you can be doing that work with other people,” said Avola.
“And you learn about the work that’s already been done, and you can build together and learn from each other, and that’s very important.”
If you’d like to support Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House and its work to promote diversity and inclusion, you can join them at their upcoming fundraiser, The Winner’s Circle, on Wednesday, October 2, 7-10 p.m., at Heritage Hall 3102 Main Street, Vancouver.
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