InterculturalU: Call for Art Submissions

Are you passionate about ending discrimination and celebrating diversity using your art?

Join us! We are looking forward to all kinds of artwork : song, dance, drumming, photography, painting, sculpture, slam poetry, improv, stand-up comedy….

The UBC Equity Ambassadors will hold the third annual Intercultural U on March 21st in celebration of the International Day to End Racial Discrimination. We hope to promote intercultural understanding and connections between the rich variety of cultures on campus through an evening of art showcase.

Submit your form online by  January 19th, 2015!

If you would like more information, check out or contact us at

The UBC Graduate Students’ Society Presents: A Video Clip Competition

The UBC GSS is organizing an intercultural competition in order to encourage more sharing and communication between students form different culture and countries. The main idea is to invite students to make a short video about their country and culture.

Some themes include:
a) Nature, Cities (people and architecture) and Historical monuments/sites or

b) Traditional dances, Folklore dresses and outfits, traditional Food, Wedding ceremonies and National celebrations

All the submissions will be posted online for other people to view.

There will be a competition at the end to award the most viewed videos. Also, a social dinner will be held at the end of January to have all attendees to share their culture. Each team must have at least one UBC graduate student.

You can find the detail information about this project on the GSS webpage.

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.”

A Visual on Privilege

This Teacher Taught His Class A Powerful Lesson About Privilege

With a recycling bin and some scrap paper.

“I once saw a high school teacher lead a simple, powerful exercise to teach his class about privilege and social mobility. He started by giving each student a scrap piece of paper and asked them to crumple it up.”

Then he moved the recycling bin to the front of the room.

He said, “The game is simple — you all represent the country’s population. And everyone in the country has a chance to become wealthy and move into the upper class.”

Continue reading

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.

Halloween: Think Before You Dress Up


Halloween is easily one of my favourite holidays of the year. However cultural appropriation is no fun, and should be taken very seriously.

On the theme of Halloween outfits – here is a good piece by Hannah Barath, a student assistant from UBC Access  & Diversity:
Hip vs Horrible Halloween Outfits 

And if you’re unsure whether or not if your costume is racist, here’s a piece by Kat Lazo of Everyday Feminism.

The UBC Equity & Inclusion Office can connect you to more resources on how to be respectful of other people’s cultures, especially during this time of year.

New Blog Administrator

My name is Joanna Yang and I am delighted to join the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office team. I started my position as Alden Habacon’s Admin Assistant on October 15, and will be the main administrator for this blog.

Feel free to contact me directly via e-mail ( or phone (604-827-5914) if you would like to meet with Alden, or get involved with the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office.

With thanks,
Joanna Yang 杨达娜
Assistant to Alden E. Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding Strategy Development

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