Festival MOSAIC 2016, which took place October 14th, has received accolades from the 200+ attendees who turned out for the annual fundraising gala. Guests were treated to an eclectic lineup of entertainment which included roaming circus performers (CircusWest), Middle-Eastern music performed by MOSAIC staff members, Taiko drummers and West African musicians and dancers (Kiss of Africa). The tapas menu for the evening included delicious Asian and Latin American inspired samplers as well as salmon appetizers prepared onsite by chefs, courtesy of Gold Sponsor, BC Salmon Farmers Association.
Board Chairperson Mehran Kiai welcomed guests on behalf of MOSAIC and emcee Fred Lee brought his usual high energy and ebullience to the event. Clients Samar Rahel and Dr. Mohamad Ismael Ali gave short speeches about their experiences since moving to Canada as Syrian refugees, and attendees were moved to bid generously during the “Fund A Program” auction. The Silent Auction also raised record amounts as the 50 items available proved to be extremely popular.
The 7th annual gala event was the culmination of MOSAIC’s 40-day celebration of its 40th Anniversary. Alumni staffers addressing the milestone occasion included former Executive Director Vera Radyo (1981-92) and Bilingual Community Staffer Roxana Aune (1976-1988). Ms. Radyo’s speaking remarks can be found below.
In addition to the formal entertainment lineup, multiple tables were hosted by various MOSAIC departments to showcase the programs, these included: the Seniors Club, which displayed knitted goods for sale, and offered a calligraphy exercise; a youth group offering origami lessons; Language Centre Childminding staff encouraging visitors to make their own decorations; and employment program staff giving quizzes about the labour market. There were also additional interactive activities for guests to enjoy such as making paper cut art; creating poetry; helping create the Indian rangol;, and experimenting with poses at the photo booth.
Ninu Kang, Director of Communications and Development, said that it looked like more funds were raised at this event than at previous fundraisers. “It was a wonderful evening – people kept telling me how much they learned about our work at MOSAIC and how warm and welcoming the event was. I’m really happy at how everything came together and it was a fitting finale to our 40th anniversary celebrations!”
- Honoured, excited and humbled to be here – 40 years! Incredible! What an amazing organization MOSAIC has become.
- When I joined MOSAIC – year 5 of its history. One room office with 20 of crowded in there, tripping over each other, only 2 programs – settlement services and volunteer translation & interpretation; and we were losing a significant portion of our funding.
- This caused us to examine how we could better serve our clients, how to pursue our social justice mission, and what opportunities there were. In the next decade, we expanded from 20 full and part time staff to 70, from one tiny location to 3 larger locations and from 2 programs to many. Let me give you a quick overview of what things were like in the early days.
- Not being able to speak English is one of the biggest barriers that new immigrants face – so we added English language programs
- Not having work in Canada, nor knowing how to find work is also a huge problem for immigrants, so we started offering employment programs. In fact, MOSAIC was the first settlement agency in BC to offer employment programs for immigrants. Now they are a standard feature of most settlement agencies.
- Immigrants need their documents translated into English and language/ cultural support with visits to schools, government offices, and other. So we transformed the translation and interpretation service into a social enterprise, that provided high quality professional translation and interpretation.
- Our South Asian worker identified the problems of domestic violence in her community and we started the first court mandated program for South Asian men convicted of domestic violence.
- Central Americans were fleeing the civil wars in their countries in the 1980’s and ended up in Vancouver with no documents. No body knew what to do with them, and were afraid to work with them as they were “illegals”. We walked into the fray to identify what these refugee claimants needed and how they could best be served. We worked with Legal Services Society, social agencies and helped set up the Inland Refugee Society.
- During that time, we also started the MOSAIC Human Rights Award and the Dr. Kes Chetty Scholarship Fund.
- Also, at that time, there were many negative stereotypes about immigrants and refugees and we engaged in the public discourse – stating that diversity is an asset, and not a problem.
- These were exciting, challenging and rewarding times. We were just doing what needed to be done. However, never in our wildest imagination did we dream that we were setting the foundation for the amazing, diverse and successful agency that MOSAIC has become. Congratulations to Eyobe, all the staff, board members, volunteers, friends and supporters! You have done an amazing job! I am honoured and humbled to be a small part of MOSAIC’s early history. I look forward to the next 40 years! Thank you!