Annual Report 2020-2021: Message from the CEO and Board President

DIVERSEcity’s Annual Report 2020–2021 is now available

Read the Message from the CEO and Board President below and check out the full Annual Report here.

To say the 2020–2021 year was challenging is truly an understatement. The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected — and continues to affect — our community’s personal and economic wellbeing. The newcomers and underserved populations we support at DIVERSEcity are experiencing continuing barriers as they navigate their way through the pandemic and the racial intolerance that came to a tipping point over the last year.

This year has also been a time of great introspection for us all. We have witnessed the disparity in our community, affirming our need as a values-based organization and registered charity to be a leader in its fair and equitable recovery.

If there can be a positive take on these difficult times, it is witnessing the strength, determination and intentionality of DIVERSEcity leadership and staff as they support our clients and each other through the challenges. They did this with respect, integrity and compassion — three of our organization’s core values.

Our fourth value is growth, and we have driven purposeful expansion over the last year, seeing DIVERSEcity grow in innovation, services, space and reach, while nurturing personal growth for our team.

As Surrey’s first settlement services organization, with a 42+ year history, DIVERSEcity has evolved with online delivery of its programs and services, from settlement to employment to mental health services. Our staff began supporting newcomers, seniors, youth and children by phone and virtual platforms like Zoom, highlighting the continuing need for digital literacy in combination with in-person support.

In another example of growth, our social enterprise DIVERSEcity Skills Training Centre not only shifted its courses from in-person classrooms to online training, it also expanded its reach to new students and partnerships with WorkBC Centres from across the province.

We also applied for and were awarded specialized funding for programs that specifically supported people to manage the stressors of living during a pandemic, including food security hamper programs for our most vulnerable populations, youth and seniors programs focused on preventing isolation, as well as employment programs to help jobseekers learn new skills for a post-COVID labour market.

In addition to our new and expanding service areas, we’re excited to be the new conveners of the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership. We hope to build on the amazing work this community partnership does in bringing diverse voices together to build an equitable and inclusive city.

To meet the needs of our growing areas of service delivery, we’re pleased to announce DIVERSEcity has also expanded physically with the purchase of our Newton Town Centre Campus. This location at #1107 – 7330 137 Street, Surrey, BC, is where everything first started more than four decades ago. We have leased this property for our English language programs since those early days, and are now expanding this location to include our Health Promotion programs.

As we continue to navigate through these complex times, it is crucial for us to strengthen our commitment to be champions of equity, diversity and inclusion, and allies to BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and underrepresented communities to advocate for change to systemic issues that these communities continue to encounter.

Introspection, intentionality and allyship will continue to be the lens from which we operate.

As we look ahead, we have difficult but necessary work to do to embody our commitment to these principles. With the vision and support of our Board of Directors, incredible staff and volunteers, we look forward to building back better and more equitably for all British Columbians.

— Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, and Bob Appleton, Board President, DIVERSEcity