University of Northern British Columbia Social Work student Hira Rashid is lending her voice and personal experience to promote multiculturalism and combat racism as one of the newest members of the provincial Multicultural Advisory Council.
“As an immigrant from Pakistan, I have experienced racism first-hand,” Rashid says. “I am looking forward to joining the council to talk about issues surrounding systemic racism in British Columbia, but also how we can take steps to improve cultural competency and cross-cultural understanding.”
Formed in 1988, the council provides advice to the cabinet minister responsible for multiculturalism. Rashid is one of eight new members of the 12-member council. As a student, Rashid is able to bring the concerns and ideas of youth to the table when the council next meets in January.
“From generation to generation, there can be changes in perspectives,” Rashid explains. “In my parents’ generation, they were happy to see their culture portrayed in the media, whether it was negative or positive due to the lack of representation, but our generation looks at things through the lens of cultural appropriation and racism to prevent issues like negative stereotypes.”
A self-described activist, Rashid is involved in promoting multicultural efforts on campus through her involvement in the South Asian Student Society as well as the Northern Women’s Centre and off campus through her work with the Immigrant and Multiculturalism Services Society and Eagle Nest Community and Aboriginal Services.
Earlier this semester she organized a diversity rally on campus and on Nov. 23 she will host Hijab for a Day, part of the third annual Inspiring Women Among Us event. At Hijab for a Day, members of the UNBC campus community can show their support for Muslim women on campus by having discussions about the hijab while self-identifying females can try wearing a hijab.
Rashid is looking forward to engaging with and learning from the other members of the council. She anticipates the experience will help her gain leadership skills as she continues her studies and prepares to begin her career.
“As a future social worker, I want to focus on working in the human rights field,” she says. “This experience will allow me to engage in great discussions about the importance of being empathic and culturally competent.”