Equity, diversity, and inclusion have always been crucial to our work helping immigrants build a future in Nova Scotia, but over the last two years we’ve taken steps to ensure these values are even more present and integrated in our organization. Our Innovation and Strategic Partnerships team offers training and workshops within ISANS and for organizations, groups, and employers across the province to promote welcoming and safe environments for immigrants, and all Nova Scotians, by exploring our existing connections and networks, and by listening to the lived realities of equity-seeking groups.
This work is informed by our experience in the settlement sector for over 40 years, but it could not exist without connections and relationship-building. We leverage community input to ensure we are reflecting the immediate needs of often vulnerable and underprivileged communities. This year, to build bridges between the African Nova Scotian community and immigrants of African descent, our Welcoming Communities program collaborated with the NS Human Rights Commission and the Delmore 'Buddy' Daye Learning Institute to design and pilot a workshop titled “Celebrating our Black Heritage: Uniting People of African Descent.”
This workshop establishes a connection between immigrant and settled communities in Nova Scotia that are united under the Black experience. By enabling and supporting a dialogue between these communities, we situate the newcomer experience in the lived history of those who have settled here in the past, and whose families and communities have paved the way for new pioneers of African descent. While this dialogue increases the empathy and compassion for and between these groups, it is also beneficial for all Nova Scotians. Ultimately, it illuminates how, outside Mi'kmaq, we are all newcomers to this land, Mi'kma'ki, and each of us brings a cultural richness and complexity that, together, can help us create a new and better future for Nova Scotians.
All immigrants to Nova Scotia face cultural transitions in their communities and workplaces. Unless we consider and engage in equity, diversity, and inclusion in both contexts, we risk losing the richness, productivity, and diversity that immigrants bring with them. To achieve our vision of an inclusive and equitable community where all can belong and grow, we must all be open to new connections, strengthen existing ones, and continue to reflect, learn, and grow with humility and gratitude.