Dialogue Circles: Building Intercultural Understanding between Immigrant and Indigenous Communities

July 23, 2013

Learn about groundbreaking initiatives in Wellington, New Zealand, and Vancouver, Canada, that are bringing new immigrant and indigenous communities together for intercultural learning and meaningful exchange as an essential part of newcomer settlement and welcome in these multicultural societies.

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  • In Wellington (New Zealand), the Marae Welcome Program connects newcomers to New Zealand’s indigenous people and helps them understand the significance of Maori culture in contemporary New Zealand society. Activities include educational workshops on the Treaty of Waitangi (the founding document of New Zealand as a nation), Maori culture, its language, and history. Interpreters are on hand to bridge the language barrier among participants.
  • In Vancouver (Canada), the City launched the “Dialogues Project” to help build stronger ties between indigenous and immigrant communities in the city. Developed by the Social Planning Division in collaboration with 27 community partners, “Dialogues Between First Nations, Urban Aboriginal and Immigrant Communities in Vancouver” aims to build mutual understanding and respect through activities that include dialogue circles, community research, and a youth and elders program.


Judi Altinkaya, National Manager, Settlement Unit Immigration New Zealand

Judi Altinkaya is the National Manager of Immigration New Zealand’s Settlement Unit. In this role, her key delivery focus areas are Strategy Leadership, Settlement Purchasing, and Resource Development to support the settlement and retention of skills in New Zealand. Judi leads the implementation across government agencies of the whole-of-Government New Zealand Settlement Strategy, as well as the central/local government partnerships for the Auckland and Wellington Regional Settlement Strategies. Judi also manages Immigration New Zealand’s settlement services purchasing programme that supports the provision of tailored information and services for employers and new migrants to support the retention of skills that New Zealand needs. She also manages the local community resettlement component of New Zealand’s annual refugee quota.

Baldwin Wong, Social Planner, City of Vancouver

Baldwin Wong is a Social Planner at the City of Vancouver.  He has been working on issues and initiatives related to diversity, multiculturalism and immigration since the 1990’s.  In 2001, he launched the multilingual Newcomer’s Guide to Vancouver, the first ever such guide by a municipal government. Since 2005, he has been the lead staff supporting the Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration, which advises City Council on issues regarding immigrants and refugees.  In 2009, he initiated and implemented the Vancouver Dialogues Project to strengthen relations between Aboriginal and immigrant communities in Vancouver. Currently, he is the Project Lead for the Welcoming Communities Program in Vancouver, a multi-sectoral partnership initiative exploring the issues of integration and inclusion of newcomers in the city.



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