Dialogue story tellers gathered together before the Engaging Diasporas in Development dialogue. Photo: Greg Ehlers.
This post was written by Douglas Olthof, Project Researcher and MA in International Studies at Simon Fraser University.
On January 19, 2011 the Engaging Diasporas in Development Project convened the first in its series of public dialogues. The dialogue was entitled “Innovations in Poverty Reduction and Economic Development” and covered three core themes: responding to basic needs through grassroots mobilizations, business and economic development, and tapping the potential: learning from the diaspora.
Participants began filtering into the Morris J. Work Centre for Dialogue amid considerable buzz. Soon thereafter, as the sounds of dozens of conversations mingled above the assembly, a single voice cut through the din and invited everyone to join together in conversation and collaboration. Vanessa Richards urged the participants to join in song and for the next few minutes the diverse crowd became a united chorus. With melody and harmony still reverberating through the room, the dialogue had begun.
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Members of the Sri Lankan diaspora gather at Trout Lake, BC.
This post was written by Sumana Wijeratna, President and CEO of VanLanka.
Nine years ago I arrived with my family in Canada. In Sri Lanka I worked with the Urban Development Authority as an urban planner in the municipal offices for eleven years and for another six years as the deputy director for regional offices.
After settling in the community of Surrey in 2002, I established VanLanka Planning Consulting where I continued to seek opportunities to use my experience in the international development field. In this quest, I reached out to the Vancouver-based International Centre for Sustainable Cities (ICSC) where I was able to offer my networks and local knowledge of Sri Lanka. This collaboration soon led to ICSC developing three successful community environmental management and sustainable planning projects in Sri Lanka that were funded by CIDA. I learned so much about sustainability planning from this experience and also believe my experiences were valuable to the Centre.
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