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

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

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:


Maclean’s March 2014: Newcomers to Canada

by Patti Ryan

Canada wants immigrants – and people from around the world want to live here. What do newcomers and Canada have to offer each other?

When people ask Alden E. Habacon why cultural diversity works in Canada in ways it doesn’t elsewhere, he has a lot to say. But it all simmers down to: “Because
it’s always been here.”

Link to full PDF: Newcomers to Canada for Maclean’s March 2014

Photo courtesy: Martin Dee

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

Remember to stay safe during exams

To UBC’s Vancouver campus community:

I want to wish students every success in your exams. And I want to remind all members of our community to continue to look out for each other’s wellbeing and safety as we transition to new spring routines.

Recently the UBC RCMP issued a safety reminder to our campus community with tips to keep in mind for a new season. Find out more here:   Continue reading

CBC On the Coast: Discrimination at UBC (April 1, 2014)

Link to digital archived audio: full text
Segment starts at 08:28

International students face discrimination at UBC, according to new research by a UBC doctoral student.

Alden Habacon, UBC’s director of intercultural understanding, says he’s not surprised by the findings.

“One of the things I’ve been working on is this strategy on intercultural understanding is a conversation around how inclusive and welcoming UBC actually is and what we’ve learned is that you can be a very multicultural, very diverse place and not be an inclusive place. And not be an intercultural place,” he said. “What this research reveals to us is that it actually proves what we were gathering in our own research in the development of that plan.”