While the province celebrated Multiculturalism Week Nov. 13-19, Williams Lake’s Margaret-Anne Enders was recognized as a multicultural champion who thinks outside the box when promoting cultural diversity.
Passionate about her job as a multicultural coordinator for the Cariboo Chilcotin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Williams Lake, Enders’ role has allowed her to participate in a number of projects aimed at building bridges between cultures and celebrating diversity.
“When I was hired four years ago, I helped to write a multicultural cookbook called Spicing up the Cariboo. We interviewed dozens of local people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, recorded their stories and shared their traditional recipes,” Enders said.
“That’s what I love about this job. There is always a story to be told. It’s amazing to learn more about people and where they come from.”
Enders weaved her love of story-telling in to one of the more provocative projects that she helped develop, the Dirty Laundry campaign, in which she collaborated with the Williams Lake Tribune. That collaboration was honoured at a gala Nov. 18 when the newspaper took home the business award at the B.C. Multicultural Awards.
“People need to realize that for a community to thrive, everyone has to feel valued. That’s why multiculturalism is so important. If you are open, willing to learn, and take the time to build those relationships and listen to the voices of the diverse people in your community, you will discover a new richness and a common ground. I promise, it’s more than worth your time,” she said.
Last year, Enders’ dedication to furthering multiculturalism in Williams Lake earned her a British Columbia Multiculturalism Award nomination for her work in organizing a women’s multi-faith event.
While honoured at the recognition, Enders stresses the importance of collaborating with people of diverse heritage and from marginalized populations. She is also quick to acknowledge that many projects have been carried out jointly with fellow nominee and recently retired co-worker, Marilyn Livingston.
“Marilyn was an enthusiastic champion of the Twin Schools project where we pair elementary students from rural First Nations schools with students enrolled in urban schools and encourage them to become pen pals. It helps to bridge the cultural divide and encourages rural and urban students to become more welcoming of one another when they all come together during the high school years,” she said.
Enders and the Multicultural Program at CMHA are now inviting the public to celebrate the honour with the Tribune and those who shared their stories at City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 30 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. All are welcome. Enders asks anyone wishing to attend to RSVP to 250-398-8220, ext. 2001.