June 8, 2006
Media Release

Progress of ethno-cultural inclusivity actions celebrated by York Region human service providers

 
A Year in Review presented by HSPC's Inclusivity Action Plan
 
NEWMARKET - The Steering Committee of the York Region Inclusivity Action Plan, an initiative of the Human Services Planning Coalition (HSPC), showcased the progress made over the last year by six working groups in making York Region a more ethno-culturally inclusive community.
 
"Human service providers are working to increase York Region's capacity to welcome and integrate immigrants and new Canadians," said Town of Markham Regional Councillor Frank Scarpitti, Chair of the Inclusivity Action Plan Steering Committee.  "This community initiative will help immigrants to contribute their experiences and skills to the Regionˇon's long term prosperity and share in the Regionˇ's social benefits."
 
Billed as "A Year in Review," the event today at the Varley Art Gallery in Unionville began with a short drama entitled The Faces of Freedom, performed by students attending Richmond Green Secondary School in the Town of Richmond Hill.
 
In addition, York Region staff presented highlights from Community Snapshots: Recent Immigrants Living in York Region, a Regional report on immigration.
 
"We want to make York Region even more ethno-culturally inclusive so that immigrants can become integrated more quickly into their new lives here in York Region," said City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio, Co-Chair of the HSPC.  "Immigrants create social capital for a vibrant economy, a highly skilled labour force and an enviable quality of life."
The York Region Inclusivity Action Plan was launched in May 2005 after months of community consultations, including a January 2005 Inclusivity Summit attended by 180 people representing 95 different organizations in York Region.
 
As a result of the feedback from the consultations, six working groups were established to address three priority themes: improving communication, creating awareness and promoting representation.  The six working groups, involving 88 participants from 47 human service organizations, then identified and developed action plans, and began implementation.
 
Each of the six working groups presented their work. 
Highlights discussed today include:

Welcome Resource Centre Model

-A model to create an information hub for all newcomers to York Region was developed in collaboration with more than 25 organizations
 
English Language Development

-A draft report describes language development needs in York Region as a key factor in the academic achievement of immigrant youth, finding employment and integrating into the community
 
-Another report, ˇ§Immigrant Language Issues in the Workplace,ˇ¨ identifies language barriers that exist within the business community
 
Increasing Awareness

-A community capacity mapping tool was developed to identify assets and strengths of inclusivity efforts already existing in York Region communities
 
Learning Opportunities for Children

-York Catholic District School Board and York Region District School Board established the Harmony Movement to teach students about equity and diversity issues and empower students to make positive changes in their lives
-Student artists were engaged to capture the essence of the Inclusivity Action Plan
 
Volunteer Leadership Development

-Conducted a review of existing services and resources and developed a work plan for consultation with diverse communities and human service agencies to address volunteer needs and leadership development
 
Organizational Development

-Developed a Charter of Inclusivity and a Circle of Champions
 
The Inclusivity Action Plan seeks to build community capacity, establish relationships and networks, create communication tools and develop organization resources.
 
An inclusive community promotes equal opportunity for everyone.  Diversity can take many forms, including disability, gender, sexual orientation, faith, race, colour and culture.  The Inclusivity Action Plan places a special focus on ethno-cultural inclusivity due to the impact of rapid growth in the number of immigrants in York Region.
 
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Media Contact: Tim Paleczny, Corporate Communications, York Region
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444 Ext. 1238, (416) 297-9696 or Toll free 1-877-464-9675
 Corporate Communications Pager: (905) 830-3302
 Email: tim.paleczny@york.ca

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