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Vargas’ diversity and inclusion support group

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Vargas’ diversity and inclusion support group
Lina Vargas is the founder of the organization known as the Diversity and Inclusion Support Group (DISG) (Photo credit: Lui Queano)

Community activism in British Columbia is thriving and still going strong. The group of working men and women who fall under the Diversity and Inclusion Support Group (DISG) recently held their first community event, at which they discussed two important topics simultaneously: anti-racism and mental health, as well as the significance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In a diverse and multicultural city like British Columbia, conversations about these issues have a strong resonance because they are crucial to the growth of civic engagement and care for the people living there.

Diversity and Inclusion Support Group (DISG) members recently held their first community event, during which
they discussed anti-racism, mental health, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. (Photo by Erie Maesto)

The event was founded and hosted by Lina Vargas, a prominent independent and self-taught politician. Vargas gained prominence in British Columbia during the October 2022 municipal elections in Vancouver. Vargas ran for Vancouver City Council for the first time as an independent. She was a hard worker with a dedicated and hardworking team of volunteers and family members who worked alongside her on the campaign trail as a labour of love. She launched her campaign based on the strength of her platform, her campaign volunteers, her endorsements from MP Don Davies and Jenny Kwan, MLA Mable Elmore, and the BC Government Employees Union (BCGEU), as well as her dedication to serving the residents of Vancouver.

Vargas lost the election but came out as the Independent candidate with the highest number of votes which was a remarkable feat from this electoral newcomer who run against 58 candidates for City Council.  But it was also her victory because after the election she was even more remembered and respected for her principles that one can make a change through hard work, being truthful, and determination. After election day, she was already with other migrants and migrant rights’ advocates “postering” at the Community office of MP Harjit Sajjan for the Status for All campaign!

Mable Elmore (wearing a pink blazer) ,Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives and Erie Maestro of Migrante BC
(second from right) surrounded by other community leaders who attended DISG community event of the year. (Photo by Lui Queano)
Doug Kinna, Executive Vice President of the BC Government and Service Employees Union (BGGEU) took the time to sign the petition demanding permanent status for Migrante Canada Chair Danilo De Leon. (Photo by Lui Queano)

Immediately after the “Status for All” rally that took place in downtown Vancouver, I found myself in the group that was speaking out against racism in a concerted effort on behalf of the community. Mable Elmore, who is currently serving as the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, was one of the speakers who clearly shared the vision of tomorrow where people of diversity and multicultural communities will be free from racism. When Lina Vargas ran for office in an election where there were not many other candidates like her, the world may have started to make more sense to her at that time. Elmore,  was in fact defined Vargas for standing up for racialized and diverse community.

Doug Kinna, Executive Vice President of the BC Government and Service Employees Union, also delivered an eloquent speech on an equally pressing topic (BGGEU). Doug’s union ties go all the way back to when Elmore was a neighbour, and he continues to fight for the rights of all members of the community, including newcomers like DISG. Doug Kinna took the pen when Vargas, the program’s host, announced a signature campaign to aid the permanent status application of Migrante Canada chairperson Danilo De Leon, a migrant worker.

Judy Phipps, the current Executive Vice President of BGGEU, joined Elmore and Doug in assuring the community that her race would not prevent her from advocating for the rights and welfare of people of colour and the eradication of racism in the workplace.

Judy Phipps serves as the Executive Vice President of BCGEU. (Photo credit: Lui Queano)

The speeches of Elmore, Kinna, and Phipps—all of whom have made significant contributions to the improvement of the rights and welfare of the community—gave me a glimpse of Lina Vargas. I experienced the elation and resolve of a community where the fight for a better future cannot be put on hold for any length of time.

Initially, I thought we were just going to have a regular karaoke and dance party.I was mistaken. I saw a movement that Vargas had started. It was not a concept  that doesn’t just define what’s wrong with a society but also shows that solidarity can overcome adversity.