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Inclusive City Cafe

Surrey is a very culturally diverse city with 40% of the population foreign born, and receives more Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) than any other BC municipality. This rich diversity brings vibrancy and innovation to the City, however both newcomer and "receiving" communities in Surrey are experiencing challenges in adapting to new ways of being and living such a diverse city. 

The Inclusive City Cafes will provide a safe and welcoming space for community members to discuss the challenges and opportunities of living in a diverse community and to start to explore how we can become a healthier and more inclusive City.

This series is a partnership between the Surrey Local Immigration Partnership, the City of Surrey, SFU Philosophers' Cafe, and the SFU Surrey - TD Community Engagement Centre.

Upcoming Cafes

Location: Surrey Public Library (City Centre Branch), 10350 University Dr, Surrey, READ-Ability Lounge, 1st floor

Join us for coffee and discussion!


The Inclusive City Cafés provide a safe and welcoming space for community members to discuss and explore how we can become a healthier and more inclusive city. A variety of topics will be explored: understanding different cultures, beliefs and traditions; integration; the refugee experience; adapting to a new country, and more! 

Have coffee with us, and chat with other community members! Inclusive City Cafes are held once per month on Thursdays starting at 5pm on the following dates in 2017: 

  • September 21st
  • October 19th
  • November 16th 
  • December 14th



September 21st, 2017
When does "Where are you from?" turn from curiosity to unconscious bias?
Moderator: Tim Mossman

If your ethnicity (or accent) is different from the so-called Canadian "mainstream", chances are that you have been asked "Where are you from" or even worse, "Where are you really from?". This is a loaded question because it tends to assume that our identity is defined by our ancestry and ethnicity, features that are often linked to cultural stereotypes. What is identity? Is identity a matter of being (our ethnic "roots") or becoming (our "routes") or both?



Past Cafes

February 16th, 2017
No Ban. How does the US travel ban affect us?

Moderator: Patrick Graham and Connie Waterman

In the last month, Canada has witnessed dramatic changes in the U.S. government and horrific attacks on religious groups in Quebec. How are we affected by the new direction for US immigration policy? Can we draw a straight line between these events, or is it symptomatic of a deeper problem here in Canada? How can we start to address systemic racism? What can we do to counter acts of hate and exclusion and create an environment where we honour and value our diverse beliefs?


September 16

The role of research in uncovering the refugee experience
Moderators: Tara Holt and Nav Chima
How can community-based research on refugees contribute to an inclusive community in Surrey? What are the barriers?
October 21
Helping immigrants integrate

Moderator: Luis Guerra
Every year as many as 250,000 people immigrate to Canada from other countries. Feelings of loss, culture shock, separation from family and language difficulties can all contribute to their stress and impede their integration. What happens when immigrants don’t feel they belong? What can we do to help immigrants integrate?
November 18
Volunteering: a foreign concept?

Moderator: Dongmei (Lily) Yang
Volunteering is vital to a just and democratic society. It fosters civic pride and responsibility and strengthens our communities. But is volunteering a foreign concept to Canadian immigrants, or is that a myth? We’ll discuss how our community benefits from immigrant volunteers and what we can do to provide more and better volunteer opportunities for immigrants.
December 16
Surrey immigrant youth: challenges and opportunities

Moderator: Jennifer Marchbank

The City of Surrey is growing by around 1,000 people per month, and one-third of our population is under 19. Our schools are overflowing and the strain on support staff is intense. How does this affect our newcomer youth? What are some opportunities to engage youth in the city?

January 27th
Honouring Diverse Beliefs

Moderator: Scott Reynolds

Religious belief can be a source of both good and evil actions. In Canadian society, religious beliefs continue to have an enormous influence on the behaviour of individuals and communities, yet we seem reluctant to talk about religion in public. How might we instead have conversations that acknowledge our differences in belief, while at the same time encouraging us to work together for a better community?

February 17th
Accented Beings: Narratives of the 1.5 generation

Moderator: Carolina Rojas

Relocating to a new country is one of the most significant experiences in a person;s life. Relocating during their teenage years in the midst of their process of becoming their own person brings its own challenges. The 1.5 generation and their process of identity formation is a journey worth exploring.

March 16th
Canadian Citizenship: What does it mean, and why is it valuable?

Moderator: Citizenship Judge Dane Minor

Every year over 200,000 Permanent Residents become Canadian Citizens. This session will ask participants to explore the value of Canadian Citizenship, why it’s important, what it means to be a “good” citizen, and what citizenship means to them. Last year the Citizenship Act was updated; differences in the old act and the new act will be explored. Information on requirements to becoming a Canadian Citizen and what help is available for Permanent Residents to become Citizens will be available.

April 20th
Five Hundred Years & No Change: Aboriginal Rights in Canada

Moderator: Yansi Ardon

When we speak about aboriginals in Canada all we can think about is their strength and resilience as they were faced with a Government that did not listen to their needs but shunned them and forced them out of their own homes, family, language and culture. The Indian Act allowed the federal government to have control of their lands but despite the fact that they were willing to negotiate they were denied their right to vote. Even though there has been some changes there is still a lot to be done.  

May 18th
What is the "Barbaric Cultural Practice"?

Moderator: Somayeh Bahrami

Bill S-7 "Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” is “An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code". The primary goal is to combat practices of forced marriages, honour killings and polygamy. But such practices and heinous crimes are already outlawed and illegal in Canada. The session will explore the following:

•How do we define “barbaric”?

•How the violent language of this new law makes assumptions of White supremacy, and fear of immigrants?

•Do you think such a policy is targeting specific ethno- religious group?


September 21st
Do I know enough about other cultures?

Moderators: Faisal Durrani and Rehab Marghany
In 2017 Canada will make the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Our country was built by immigrants who come from different cultural backgrounds. How much we know about different cultures affects our relationships with our friends, neighbours, coworkers and even family members. Curiosity becomes one of the most important qualities for us to live in highly multicultural society.  

October 19th
What do you see more: similarities or differences between cultures?

Moderators: Piyush Mehta and Wafa Al-Jahiri
Canada is a country of immigrants. We all bring different cultural perspectives and traditions that affect our day-to-day lives. However, depending on what one might want to see or focus on, one might notice more similarities than differences between cultures and vice versa. Come and share with us what you see more and why.

November 16th
I am not a global citizen and I am happy about it. What about you?

Moderators: Preeti Hiro and Mayyadah Al-ani
Being a global citizen has become the latest buzzword. The idea is that global citizen’s identity goes beyond any geographic or political borders. It is frequently being associated with global justice. However, “stateless persons” might also be considered global citizens, yet they often lack access to basic freedoms and human rights. What about being a proud Canadian and truly care about what Canada has to offer and expects in return?

December 14th
Is culture somethihng that one is born into, can be learnt or borrowed?

Moderators: Magdalena Mot and Mayyadah Al-ani
Everyone has culture. Culture describes our way of living and some internal factors that affect our behaviour, like our values, beliefs and attitudes that we use in day-to-day life. However, culture is not something that one is born with. People are born into cultures but we can learn and adopt or “borrow” some aspects of different cultures. Come and share with us your successes and challenging in learning and living with different cultures.

January 19th
Culture: Blessing or Burden?

Moderators: Tejaswini Kumar