DIVERSEtalks: Conversations for Change

A new panel and speakers’ series presented by DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society

We need meaningful connection today more than ever. Let’s amplify different perspectives, ignite conversation and have transformative dialogue on issues important to our diverse community in Canada.

Our DIVERSEtalks series will be moderated by DIVERSEcity’s leaders, including Neelam Sahota, CEO, and Garrison Duke, Director, Employment, Language & Enterprise Development. Held in connection with important themes such as Black History Month and International Women’s Day, DIVERSEtalks are free to community members, stakeholders and guests, as well as DIVERSEcity staff.

Upcoming DIVERSEtalks

Supporting Newcomers in Navigating the Canadian Labour Market

Thursday, July 14, 2022, 11–12:30 pm

Online via Zoom

Register via link below. (Note: DIVERSEcity staff don’t need to register here.)

We are expecting approximately 432,000 newcomers in 2022 and more in future years. Immigration is predominantly driven by labour market needs and this will be true more than ever going forward, with many industries facing staffing shortages across Canada. Despite coming to Canada with a world of experience and credentials, newcomers and skilled immigrants continue to face barriers in entering their field in Canada.

Many immigrants look for educational opportunities or relicensing in Canada to help them get back into their field, and in the last couple of years micro-credentials have taken centre stage as an important part of bridging  immigrants into relevant work faster. Micro-credentials are growing in popularity and for good reason. They bridge the skills gap, allowing job seekers to upskill quickly and affordably, while enabling employers to hire more educated candidates with recent, relevant education.

In this DIVERSEtalks event, our panel discussion will raise ideas and awareness on how we can better support newcomers through these short-term, training and certifications, while making a positive impact on Canada’s economy and labour market at the same time.

Moderated by Garrison Duke, Director, DIVERSEcity

Our panellists include:

Nick Noorani

Nick Noorani is a social entrepreneur, motivational speaker, consultant and founder of Immigrant Networks, a community built by immigrants to help newcomers overcome one of the greatest challenges that come with settling here, finding and keeping a job. He is also the founder of Canadian Immigrant Magazine and Prepare for Canada, a best-selling author and a motivational speaker.

Michael Yue

Michael Yue is Interim Director, Partnership Development Office at Vancouver Community College.


Juan Azmitia

Juan Azmitia is a faculty member and part-time studies academic coordinator at BCIT.


Vandna Joshi

Vandna Joshi is a Senior Manager with DIVERSEcity, serving the Employment Programs team for many years before recently moving to the People & Culture department.

Register to Attend

Supporting Newcomers Navigate the Canadian Labour Market: July 14, 11 am – 12:30 pm

Past DIVERSEtalks

In honour of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2022

Voices Out of Violence: Working Together to Support Survivors Across Cultures
A panel discussion on the issues around supporting survivors of violence, especially women and children from across cultures, through a lens of cultural safety, compassion and respect. Let’s discuss how can we meet them where they are , while helping them access support and find healing, while supporting service providers delivering services to them.

Thursday, May 19, 2022, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Online via Zoom
Register via link below. (Note: DIVERSEcity staff don’t need to register here.)

Moderated by Andrea Canales, Director, Community Development, DIVERSEcity

Our panellists include:

Richa Karkee

Richa Karkee is the Manager, Violence Prevention Services, at DIVERSEcity. She oversees programs that support women and children facing domestic violence with programs such as Stopping the Violence, PEACE and It Happens Here Too…, all delivered from the culturally safe Roots of Safety framework.


Shahnaz Rahman (Samantha Grey, Program Director/Human Trafficking Project Lead, at Surrey Women’s Centre will be taking Shahnaz’s place.)

Shahnaz Rahman is the Executive Director at the Surrey Women’s Centre. She has over 30 years of combined experience as an educator, advocate, author, front line counsellor, workshop facilitator, provincial coordinator of counselling programs for women and children and as a community liaison. In her current role, Shahnaz has worked extensively in advancing women’s equality rights in the family law domain. She collaborates with the board of directors and oversees the over all management of programs and services for women who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault.  Shahnaz’s wonderful mother continues to be her strength and hope for advancing women’s equality, safety and empowerment. Shahnaz was awarded as one of the Women of the Decade in Community Leadership and Social Change by the Women’s Economic Forum.


Syma Nehal

Syma Nehal is the Regional Manager for Nisa Homes Vancouver, a transition home for women and children fleeing domestic abuse. She has been with Nisa Homes for three years in several roles within the organization. Syma is currently serving the position of Board Director for the BC Society of Transition Homes.

Syma’s educational background and previous work experiences have been primarily in the social service and criminal justice field, giving her a unique perspective with respect to her current position and the clients whom she supports.


Rosa Elena Arteaga

With over 27 years of front-line experience working within the anti-violence field supporting self-identified girls, women and femmes who have experienced gender-based violence Rosa Elena Arteaga is currently the Director of Clinical practice and Direct Services with Battered Women’s Support Services. Through an intersectional feminist, anti-oppression and decolonizing approach Rosa Elena has created and implemented programs and facilitated numerous workshops on violence prevention and intervention locally, nationally and internationally. Rosa Elena holds a Master’s degree on Narrative Therapy and Community Work with Melbourne university. Additionally, Rosa Elena is a trauma informed narrative therapist and her work is informed by the thousands of hours assisting self-identified girls, women and femmes who have accessed her support. She is a current member of the Board of Directors for the Downtown Women’s Centre.


Zainab Ibrahim

Zainab Ibrahim is an Iraqi born who has been living on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples for the past 13 years. Zainab is a graduate student enrolled in the master of social work program at the University of Victoria. Zainab has worked with different non-profit organizations supporting abuse survivors for the past seven years. Zainab has also delivered workshops and training on cultural competency and trauma-informed services delivery for service providers working with marginalized women and children. In recent years, Zainab’s work in her community has focused on lowering accessibility barriers for marginalized women and children in need of safe shelters.

An International Women’s Day Event

Women Leading to #BreaktheBias
A panel discussion on women’s equity in the workplace and beyond in today’s new normal.
Moderated by Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity

Monday, March 7, 2022, 11 am to 12:30 pm
Online via Zoom
Presented in partnership with MLA Rachna Singh

Our panellists include:

Parliamentary Secretary Rachna Singh

Rachna Singh was first elected as MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers in May 2017. She was the convener of the Special Committee to Appoint a Police Complaint Commissioner and the Special Committee to Appoint a Conflict of Interest Commissioner. Rachna moved from India to Canada in 2001 and chose Surrey to build a better life for her young family. She has worked as a drug and alcohol counsellor, a support worker for women facing domestic violence, and a community activist. She has also worked to improve worker’s rights as a representative with the Canadian Union of Public Employees. She is the Parliamentary Secretary on Anti-Racism Initiatives.

Trish Mandewo
Coquitlam City Councillor and CEO, Synergy Executive & Boards Consulting Group

An accomplished award-winning serial entrepreneur and diversity & inclusion strategist, Trish Mandewo is President and Founder of Synergy On Boards Consulting Group. She is an advocate for social change through various initiatives that champion and empower outsider groups. Through her love of governance, she co-founded Synergy on Boards Consulting Group to help Black, Indigenous and other visible minority women be board ready and help bridge the gap of diversified voices in the boardroom. Trish has successfully built four businesses and two non profits. She is the author of Growth Strategies For The Hungry Entrepreneur, mentor and inspirational speaker. She has received numerous awards including 2017 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant. She currently sits on several boards including Union of BC municipalities (UBCM) and Lower Mainland Local Government Association (LMLGA) and The Coquitlam Foundation. She has an extensive history on executive boards and committees. She is an elected official for the City of Coquitlam.

Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan, MSW
AVP, External Relations, Simon Fraser University

Sobhana immigrated to Canada in 1995 after completing her education and working in Asia. Her first job was a minimum wage job as an Usher at GM Place. Later she worked with the Government of British Columbia serving in front-line child welfare and senior management positions for nearly two decades. In 2015, she was appointed as the first Executive Director of BC’s Provincial Office of Domestic Violence. After a two-year stint in India as head of HR, she joined Simon Fraser University (SFU) as Associate Vice President, External Relations in 2017. She engages with all levels of government and diverse organizations and communities to strengthen relationships and partnerships. In 2019, she was recognized by the global Women Economic Forum (WEF) with a Woman of the Decade Award. She sits on several Advisory Committees and Boards and dedicates time for pro bono work in Canada and India. She is currently Chief Impact Office (pro bono) for HashHackCode, India, and VP at BC-India Business Network, Canada. Sobhana mentors several youth entrepreneurs in India and Canada and is passionate about peace in all spheres of life.

Robin Gill, VP, Talk Shop Media

Robin Gill is currently Vice President with Talk Shop Media. Talk Shop Media is a national media relations company. Prior to joining TSM, Robin was a journalist for 27 years. She  most recently was a national anchor and correspondent for Global National — covering the pandemic, countless federal and provincial elections, the BC floods and fires, and the list goes on. Robin also gives her time to various causes in Vancouver including the VGH Gala Committee.


Annual Donation Announcement

During this DIVERSEtalks event, DIVERSEcity will also present its annual donation to a women’s organization in honour of International Women’s Day, co-sponsored by Pacific Community Resources Society. This year’s recipient is Pacific Association of First Nations Women.

Co-sponsored by:

In honour of Black History Month:

Move Beyond Allyship
Practical Tips in Becoming a Co-conspirator
February 24, 2022, 11 am – 12 pm
Online via Zoom

Guest Speaker: Moussa Magassa, PhD, IDI.QA

Summary: Prejudice and discrimination, whether in their form of racism, ethnocentrism, religious bigotry, gender-based, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, are prevalent in Canadian societies. Many studies have found that racial prejudice and discrimination against Blacks, Asians people, Indigenous people, Jews and other marginalized people, are crude realities in Canadian society and institutions.

Systemic racism does not only kill, but it also hinders BIPOC people’s capability to effectively and equitably contribute to a healthy, sustainable and inclusive institutions and society. Therefore, it is not only crucial to engage in courageous conversations that denounce racism but also to go beyond being an ally to becoming a co-conspirator.

More about the Speaker: Dr. Moussa Magassa, PhD, IDI.QA, is the University of Victoria’s Principal Strategist, Community Engagement, JEDI and Anti-racism Education. Dr. Magassa is also an associate faculty in the UVic Social Justice Diploma program and diploma program in intercultural studies and practice. He is also associate faculty in Royal Roads University M.A in Global Leadership program. For the last 17 years, Dr. Magassa has also been teaching at the UBC Centre for Intercultural Communication, where he designed a sought-after course “Organizational Equity and Inclusion: A Strategic Roadmap.”

For the last 18 years, Dr. Magassa (as the CEO and sole owner of the well-known consulting company, the Intercultural Capacity Building Inc.) has lead numerous institutions and organizations to develop their EDI and anti-racism strategic plans.

Dr. Magassa holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction (UVic) with special focus on critical race theory, anti-racism education, Islamophobia, human rights education, diversity, equity and inclusion, and immigrants and refugees’ integration and adaptation in host communities. He also holds an MA in human security & peacebuilding (Royal Roads University, Canada); a BA (Hons) in conflict resolution and peace studies (Kwazulu Natal University, South Africa); a diploma in forced migration and refugee studies; and various advanced certificates in human rights and humanitarian law, conflict mediation, and intercultural communication and development.

Currently, Dr. Magassa is an advisor to various organizations, including BC Ministry of Education Anti-racism curriculum committee; City of Vancouver EDI & Anti-Racism policy development committee; Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network Hub strategic planning advisory committee; among many others.

Dr.  Magassa was born in Senegal and speaks many languages ​​in addition to English and French.