Persian New Year Celebrations Begin

*This post was from last year. We updated the time of Norouz – it starts at 3:45pm (Vancouver time) today.*

Norouz نوروز, the Persian New Year, takes place at 3:45pm today. The Persian New Year begins in tandem with the Spring Equinox, and the customs associated with Norouz also relate very closely with nature and the hopefulness that the beginning of Spring embodies. Many people outside of Iran, particularly residents of surrounding regions such as Afghanistan, also celebrate this holiday. The most significant symbol of Norouz, which has its origins in Zoroastarian traditions, is the haft-seen هفت‌سین table spread. The haft-seen traditionally includes seven (haft) edible items that start with “seen” (س ) an “S” sounding alphabet.  Each household normally creates a decorative haft-seen and this is left up throughout the New Year season, which lasts for 13 days.   Continue reading

Why We Came Together: #UBC4Ferguson

Written by Blessing Falayi

UBC Vancouver vigil for Michael Brown. #UBC4Ferguson

UBC Vancouver vigil for Michael Brown. #UBC4Ferguson. Photo by Sheldon Lynn.

On Friday, November 28 2014, one hundred candles shone in solidarity with Ferguson, Missouri, keeping vigil for murdered eighteen year old, Michael Brown. Though the vigil came into fruition just two days prior (the Facebook event only popping up on Wednesday night), the turnout was much greater than expected.

With Monday’s grand jury verdict still fresh in our minds, we came together angry, upset, saddened, and confused, but no longer silent. We wanted to do something. We wanted to show our support, we wanted to reach out, and we knew we could no longer be complicit. This is how this vigil came to be.

The main focus of this event was to honour Michael Brown, and we did so by keeping his family’s wish of four and a half minutes of silence. Candles were lit as students kept vigil by the fountain on Main Mall. These moments of silence represented the four and a half hours that Michael’s body lay on the street in the scorching summer heat. The last words of various Black men were called out to end the quietude, to remind us of the humanity of those who lost their lives at the hands of the police. To end the vigil, Ivan Leonce – the Colour Connected Against Racism Coordinator – performed “Caribbean Sun”, a poem that celebrates his Black heritage and honours the resilience of his ancestors.

At the end of the vigil, the main idea we wanted to emphasize is systemic racism. Although mainstream media continues to push themes revolving around police brutality, it is important to acknowledge there is more to the picture than these “random” acts of violence by individuals. Rather, we recognize that police brutality is the manifestation of a violent, oppressive, anti-black, and overall racist system.

Labeling the incident as a “colourblind” one would not only be a disservice to Michael Brown, but also to more Black lives that have been lost over the years. Our law enforcement reflects our society. It is far from infallible and we are still far from equity. By tiptoeing around the issue, we lose grasp of what is truly important.

Though some may claim that UBC Vancouver is a campus of relative apathy, this event is clear proof that it is not. The activist network at UBC is dedicated, strong, and admirable. We create a powerful discussion for students to come together and create change, whether it be the changing of minds or the changing of systems. UBC students are empathetic and they are only beginning to realize the extent of their power.

But why did people care about this specific event? I speculate that the reasons are endless. Perhaps it was the fact that an eighteen year old was killed. Mike was not much younger than most of us. He was unarmed and he was also Black. We understand that this is no coincidence. A no indictment verdict made absolutely no sense to us. Darren Wilson couldn’t even be brought to trial because of conflicting evidence? We’d like to ask, “Is that justice?”

We also understand that this is not an isolated incident. Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Tamir Rice, Kendrec McDade, Jonathan Ferrell, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Aiyana Jones; these are just a few Black people who have been killed by law enforcement officers in the last fifteen years. All of them unarmed. Twelve year-old Tamir Rice was only carrying a toy gun. Did he deserve to die? Again, this is no coincidence. This is an irrevocably flawed system and UBC students know this. We understand that this same system extends into Canada. We know we are not exempt. Our indigenous population suffers heinously at the hands of this same system. This is no coincidence.
We know that we can no longer be complicit. UBC students will continue to care and we will continue the conversation. We will continue to “fight the powers that be.”

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:


[UBC #ThriveWeek] Active Witnessing: An Empathetic Response to Racism

On November 5, the Liu Institute for Global Issues and our office organized a difficult conversation about racism on campus, and how it ties into mental well-being.

To listen to the audio version of the event, please visit our Soundcloud upload:

Our official story is live on the Equity and Inclusion website:


Apples for Profs – A New Tradition at UBC

On Wednesday, October 29 – the Equity & Inclusion office worked with students to pilot the first ever “Apples for Profs” event at UBC.  The inspiration for this event came from consultation work with faculty, many of whom reported feeling increasingly unappreciated in their roles as instructors, because some have been struggling to connect with their students in the classroom. UBC is comprised of a diverse student population, some of which come from cultures where gift-giving [for instructors] is commonplace, whereas others are of backgrounds where this practice is discouraged. The symbolism of the quintessential “apple” is familiar for many North American instructors and students. Historically speaking, this symbol comes from the 17th or 18th century, where poorer farmers in Northern Europe and the United States would pay their children’s teachers with food, such as apples and potatoes. With the help of Land and Food Systems Undergraduate Society members (LFS|US) and Agora Cafe volunteers, we handed out 480 apples locally sourced from the UBC Botanical Garden (Apple Festival 2014) to students, who were encouraged to write notes of appreciation to accompany their apples.

Alden Habacon, Intercultural Understanding Director, is making a fresh apple delivery on his bike.

Alden Habacon, Director of Intercultural Understanding at UBC, is making a fresh apple delivery on his bike.


Taken from Instagram. #apples4ubcprofs

Joanna and Krystal of the Equity & Inclusion Office handing out apples.

Joanna and Krystal of the Equity & Inclusion Office handing out apples.

The event was well-received by students – most of them were happy to see a “no strings attached” event happen on campus.

This is the official Equity & Inclusion Office article about the event:

And for photos, please visit our Facebook Page:

We are looking to improve this tradition for the future, so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment box below.

Chinese-Speaking Residents at ‘Welcome Event’

More than 70 residents were in attendance; evening was entertaining as well as educational

By Ying Zhou, Chair, UNA Civic Engagement Committee

Ying June 9 tour

New Chinese-speaking residents enjoy welcoming event at The Chan Centre.
Photo credit Qiu Hong




On June 9, UBC invited members of the UNA civic engagement committee to a ‘Welcome Event’ at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

More than 70 new Chinese-speaking residents attended this event, which was preceded by a walk to the Chan from The Old Barn Community Centre led by UBC executives Alden Habacon, director of Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development, and Joe Stott, director of planning. They were warmly greeted at the Chan by Joyce Hinton, co-managing director.

Link to full article on Page 9:


Happy Lunar New Year! 恭禧發財 and 新年快樂 | 新年快乐 (Xin Nian Kuai Le!) | 새해 복 많이 받으세요 | Chúc mừng năm mới | 明けましておめでとうございます。

Courtesy of Linda Ong and Library Communications and Marketing

A message from Alden E. Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development (February 4, 2014):

Happy Lunar New Year! Gong hey fat choy and San Nihn Faai Lok! (Cantonese), Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Mandarin), Sae Hae Bok Mani Ba Deu Se Yo! (Korean), Chúc mng năm mi! (Vietnamese), and Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu (Japanese).

This past Friday marked the beginning of the Year of the Horse for Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and many Japanese families all over the world. It is especially important for Vancouver and our community at UBC, as marked by the many celebrations on campus by various clubs and the countless activities throughout the city in the past week.

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