I am not sure what I was expecting when I went to the Diversity Forum. I just knew that, as a public servant, a migrant to NZ, and as someone who has always been very interested in the Maori culture, it was something I’d like to see. I came back absolutely astounded at the level of commitment people have towards the harmonious relationship amongst different cultures in this country.
My personal favourite, and I might wager she was a lot of people’s favourite, was Melbournian web designer Mia Northrop, the instigator behind the “Vindaloo against Violence” campaign. She proved that you don’t need a lot of people, a lot of money or even a lot of time to make a difference. All you need is a cause you feel strongly about and a bit of know how. We have several books on the use of social media at the library, and her talk highlighted the fact that all those tools can also be used with excellent results to create consciousness.
Another talk I attended was on Implementing the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is a document that was adopted by the UN in 2007 and New Zealand signed this year. There are some points which are particularly interesting, especially those ones that touch on the similarities between the Declaration and the Treaty of Waitangi.
And of course, there was the fantastic session lead by Jill Richardson, Shivangi Pradhan, Erin Kimber and Ada Nally titled ” Librarians and Cultural Diversity” which focused primarily on how we can relate to our customers from the point of view of this diversity and the role libraries play in the support of new migrants.
It was such a fantastic experience, walking along peoples from so many different nationalities, cultures and abilities. It really brought to light the amazing mix of people that form this city we all call our home now, and how the Chritchurch City Council, the Human Rights Commission and many other institutions are working together to make acceptance of this diversity a reality.
All in all I had a fantastic time, learned so much and met so many interesting people. What can I say, it was definitely worth it!