Alden Habacon, Senior Advisor Intercultural Understanding

The following message is sent on behalf of Dr. Sara-Jane Finlay, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion.  It is for the attention of UBC Deans, Directors, Managers and Administrative Heads of Units.

A message from Sara-Jane Finlay, Associate Vice President, Equity and Inclusion:

In the New Year, Alden Habacon, Director of Intercultural Understanding at UBC will transition his position to a consultant role, primarily working with the Equity and Inclusion Office.

Alden’s intercultural understanding strategic planning work, which brought him to UBC five years ago, has been for the most part successfully completed. This included consulting with the UBC community around their intercultural needs and developing and initiating a strategic plan, inspiring both campuses around intercultural initiatives, and growing self-sustaining capacity throughout the university.

In short, UBC has seen real culture change and a growing momentum around intercultural perspectives, approaches, skills development, and relationships—producing more intercultural learning, student experiences, research approaches and community engagement. The demand for training and professional development is now greater than one person can supply and it is time for a different approach to the work.

Although Alden won’t be as visible on the UBC campuses, I want to assure you that the intercultural understanding work at UBC is not finished. Alden will retain the title of Senior Advisor, Intercultural Understanding and the focus of his work will shift towards growing capacity at the local level to respond to the needs for intercultural understanding, skills and education. This change will enable him to intensify work within a handful of units.

In the last few years, Alden has also been engaged with many great organizations across Canada. The demand for his time outside of UBC has outgrown what he is able to provide and he aspires to share his knowledge and strategic vision with other universities across Canada.

If your unit is interested in opportunities to build intensive intercultural capacity and skills development, contact the Equity and Inclusion Office at, or contact Alden Habacon directly at

Alden and I would like to thank the UBC community for its enthusiasm, collaboration, healthy skepticism, advice and, most importantly, engagement with intercultural understanding.


Sara-Jane Finlay
Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion
Equity and Inclusion Office
University of British Columbia

Lakehead University mandates Indigenous content in all faculties

Lakehead University is moving to make it mandatory for all undergraduate students to take indigenous education.

Taken from

Starting in 2016, studies about indigenous people and issues will be incorporated into courses in every faculty on campus.

Yolanda Wanakamik with the office of aborginal initiatives LU
Yolanda Wanakamik with the office of aboriginal initatives at Lakehead calls the move to make indigenous studies mandatory, unique. (supplied)

Yolanda Wanakamik, co-ordinator of graduate and external relations with the office of aboriginal initiatives, said it’s part of the university’s over all strategic plan.

“The idea is that any student in an undergraduate program will graduate from Lakehead with one half credit having significant indigenous knowledge,” Wanakamik said.

Teaching tailored to each student

The teaching will reflect a student’s area of study. For example, Wanakamik explained,” in natural resource management at Lakehead you will have a lot of foresters graduating that are going to have to engage First Nations communities, so they will need to understand what treaties are.”

Wanakamik pointed to graduating engineers as well, who need to go north and would have to learn about where they are going and the culture of First Nations.

Beyond raising understanding of indigenous people, Wanakamik said the intent of making these kind of studies mandatory is to talk openly about the issue of racism.

“There will be conversations in the classroom. Most people will be talking about stereotypes people have about indigenous people in northwestern Ontario, in fact across Canada,” she said.

Wanakamik called the move towards mandatory indigenous education unique, with Lakehead in her estimation being the only Canadian university that has done this, so far.

As a a former aboriginal student at Lakehead herself, Wanakamik said she’s proud of what the university is doing.

“People have responded to it. People are excited. This is a boost for students.”

Remembrance Day 2014: UBC Lays a Wreath at Japanese Canadian War Memorial

On behalf of UBC, Alden Habacon had the honour of laying a wreath at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park on Remembrance day. The ceremony was well-attended by people from all walks of life.




CBC News Coverage of the War Memorial:


Blog Post Administrator Changes

Today is my last day as Assistant to Alden E. Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development.

Please note to forward to updates and posts to Alden until his new assistant comes into the office.   Alden’s email:

It has been a great joy and pleasure to have worked along with so many great people to make this blog happen.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Anna Wong 黄安娜
Assistant to Alden E. Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development

UBC’s Asian Canadian Asian Migration Studies Minor Takes First Students in September 2014

The University of British Columbia is pleased to announce the creation of the Asian Canadian Asian Migration Studies Minor during the recognition of Asian Heritage Month in Canada and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States.

As part of the University’s tribute to honour the UBC Japanese Canadian students of 1942, the Dean of Arts announced in March 2012 that an Asian Canadian Minor program would be created and launched to accept its first students in September 2014.

Consultation processes that involved many individuals from the Asian Canadian and UBC communities were initiated and conducted over a 12-month period. The feedback and advice received encouraged the University to envision a more comprehensive program beyond the scope originally conceived.

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Congratulations to Karen Dhaliwal and UBC Intercultural Alliance for winning the 2014 Provincial Nesika Award!

Province of British Columbia

VANCOUVER – The fifth annual Provincial Nesika Awards proved that multiculturalism is flourishing in British Columbia. More than 400 people attended this flagship event at the Science World OMNIMAX Theatre with Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism Teresa Wat there to present the awards.   Continue reading

UBC Senate Approves Asian Canadian Asian Migrations Minor

From Prof. Henry Yu, Associate Professor, Dept. of History, UBC and Principal, St. John’s College, UBC.

Dear all

For all of those who have spent many years working towards the creation of Asian Canadian studies at UBC, we are writing to pass on the happy news that last night, at the February 19, 2014 meeting of the UBC Senate, the new Asian Canadian and Asian Migrations Studies program was unanimously approved.

This program fulfils the third of three commitments made by UBC Senate in November 2011 to honour the 76 Japanese Canadian students who were removed from UBC in 1942.

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