15 September 2010


Subject:  Multicultural Helping House Society (MHHS) – Minutes of meeting  


Venue: MHHS Office, 4802 Fraser Street 32nd Avenue, Vancouver

Date and Time: 8 September; 5:00 pm

Agenda: Exploring possibility of collaborative work


Participants: Mr. Leo Valdes, Ex Director, MHHS; Dr. Harun Rashid, Advisor-SBCJ; Dr. Iqbal Bhuiyan, Director Program-SBCJ; and Dr. Mohammad Zaman, Ex Director-SBCJ.


A meeting between MHHS and the Society for Bangladesh Climate Justice was held on 8 September/10 (SBCJ) at the MHHS office to explore possibilities of collaborative work on community development and climate adaptation. Dr. Iqbal Bhuiyan took the initiative and requested for the meeting.  


Dr. Zaman took the opportunity and thanked the Ex Director-MHHS for his availability for the meeting beyond office hours. He recounted participation of Bangladeshi-Canadians in past MHHS activities and use of MHHS Office space for various activities.  In sum, Dr. Zaman underscored MHHS support to Bangladeshi community in Vancouver. Dr. Iqbal noted similar friendly participation of MHHS staff/members, including Mr. Tom Avendano, President of MHHS, in several Bangladeshi-sponsored events.


For the benefit of SBCJ members, Mr. Valdes briefly explained MHHS work and activities.  The principal focus, he said, is settlement support to new immigrants and necessary help – including training, mentoring, and youth program – so that new comers can succeed and adapt quickly to the Canadian life. He particularly mentioned about host mentoring, programs for seniors, and training new comers in public involvement (i.e., the Maple Bamboo Initiative).  Mr. Valdes also mentioned that their work plans are mostly short termed – for example, typically one to two years  - and very much tied to funding by BC and federal governments.  Upon an inquiry by Dr. Rashid about scope of research and evaluation work, Mr. Valdes recognized “gaps” in this area due to both lack of time as well as funding for evaluation. He suggested that SBCJ could work in this area along with MHHS in future projects and programs.


Drs. Rashid and Iqbal pointed out the attention of BC government and many non-government agencies to climate adaptation issues. Dr. Rashid recalled attending a meeting under the title Is BC Prepared for Climate Refugees? He noted growing interests in this area by non-government agencies, including local universities. Dr. Iqbal suggested that MHHS should consider integrating climate issues in their future work. At that point, Mr. Valdes mentioned the need to undertake a survey among new comers to understand climate impacts in their decision-making in the migration.


The scope of issues and discussions at the meeting were fairly open and broad. However, it was agreed that future collaborations between MHHS and SBCJ remain a good possibility, particularly in areas like (i) short surveys/research prior to lunching any program; (ii) program evaluation; and (iii) workshop on orientation/training of new comers about life and living in Canada. Finally, it was concluded that more exploratory meetings would be necessary and thus help to developing specific areas and or projects for collaboration.  Dr. Zaman thanked everyone for attending the meeting.