Diversity and Inclusion in a Vancouver shopping center
Bed and breakfast guests are a special group of people. Many of them want to get to know a city and its occupants and not just sightseeing. Vancouver Traveller Bed and Breakfast recently had the pleasure of hosting such a group. The guests were from different countries and met each other at the breakfast table. Their jobs were in all in the social fields, from lawyers for the weak and poor, environmentalists, librarians, social workers, geography professors, etc. The conversations around the breakfast table flowed smoothly from riding bicycles in Stanley Park to football to US politics to social economic issues in Vancouver.
Like all cities, Vancouver has its own social economic issues. Unlike Canadian mosaic multiculturalism, which can be seen and felt in every street corner and shopping center, the socioeconomic layers are often segmented with little mingling, especially for the struggling and down-and-out groups. International Village Mall is the one shopping center that has the most socioeconomic diversity and inclusion in Vancouver. I am sure the mall did not set up to be such and but the end result remains that anytime I go there, I see people from all economic levels and colours there. This diversity comes from the mall’s unique geographical location - it connects Gastown, Vancouver Downtown Eastside/Vancouver downtown East Hastings, Chinatown and downtown in general.
As I was waiting for my lunch in Congee Noodle Delight, two disheveled, long-haired men in half-ripped shirts came in the mall. They were followed by a tiny Asian grandmotherly woman who shuffled very tiny steps to the restaurant to order a take out. A group of tourists, cameras and maps in hand, came in to have a late lunch. There is a Starbucks at the mall’s southwest entrance. Business attired, students and anyone who needs wi-fi congregate there with their laptops and cell phones. The middle of the mall has an open area with benches what are often occupied by seniors chatting to each other. People from disadvantaged groups come in and out of the mall, just like the office workers and the seniors. No one bats an eyelash at anyone or their dress code. The security guards are not out to chase away anyone who may be deemed out of place and asked to leave in other shopping centers. All in all, the visitors and the business owners in the little mall all seem to get along with each other and treats everyone the same.
I always feel blessed to be living in Vancouver and Canada whenever I am in the mall and see that everyone from the destitute to the well-off get along with each other. It is a nice feeling to have.
Kudos to the bed and breakfasts guests for bringing Vancouver’s diversity and inclusion to my mind so that I remember to appreciate what is around me.