By Gary Drouillard
On June 15, about 50 people gathered in an intimate atmosphere of what felt like a large living room at Semiahmoo House in South Surrey. We listened to informative, interactive talks by three experts on the theme of “Belonging for ALL in our Community”. Each speaker addressed the issue from a different perspective.
Our first speaker was Len Pierre, a Coast Salish from the Katzie First Nation who specializes in developing educational programs and services focusing on decolonization and reconciliation as core values. He presented a mind-changing talk on the historical view of colonization, reminding us that Europeans are relatively recent arrivals into already-existing and ancient communities. He pointed out, we are all “hardwired for connection and inclusivity” so any attempt to extinguish a culture ultimately diminishes us all.
Our second speaker was 2020 TEDxSurrey speaker, Stan Leyenhorst, a quadriplegic who has been advocating for accessibility for 40 years. He is a longstanding proponent of the concept of universal design, which aims to provide access to all. He spoke about simple design changes that could remove obstacles for many and the need to think inclusively in our construction designs if our communities and homes are to become accessible to everyone.
Our third speaker was with realtor Jatinder Kaur Grewal, one of the owners of Team GRC who was a major sponsor for our last TEDxSurrey event in February. Jatinder spoke of her experiences as an immigrant from India, arriving in Canada in her late teens. She emphasized the value of education as a way to help her overcome the struggles of fitting in and making a contribution to her new country.
The attendees reported great satisfaction with the event and appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and provide their own perspective and comments on the presentations.
Salons are smaller gatherings, scaled back from the targeted 1000-person annual TEDxSurrey events. They are intended to be more intimate and interactive with just 50 or so attendees and just a few speakers. The goal is to focus on a single topic and generate much discussion between the speakers and attendees. TEDxSurrey is planning to produce three Salon events each year, in addition to its annual TEDxSurrey event.