Nationally renowned registered social worker Shashi Assanand passes away

NATIONALLY renowned registered social worker Shashi Assanand, a recipient of the prestigious Order of British Columbia, passed away peacefully last week.

In 2018, after 26 years at the helm of the Vancouver and Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Services Society (VLMFSS), Assanand retired as the organization’s Executive Director.

Assanand was interviewed numerous times by The Indo-Canadian VOICE since the mid-1990s and she wrote several articles for this newspaper. Her courageous stand against violence against women immensely helped South Asian and other visible minorities.

Assanand left Uganda as a refugee in 1972 when military dictator Idi Amin ordered all individuals of South Asian descent to leave the country. She experienced firsthand the unique challenges refugee, immigrant women and their families face in their new communities as she built a new life first in the UK and then in Canada. Assanand made it her career’s work to support and empower immigrant families and facilitate cultural awareness and competency amongst professionals to better serve and / or work with immigrant and refugee families.

Assanand founded the VLMFSS in 1991 to provide counselling and support to immigrant and refugee women and children experiencing family violence, and to advocate to address some of the factors that put immigrant and refugee families at greater risk of violence. The organization revolutionized the delivery of family support services in the province.

Last year, she was appointed to the Order of British Columbia.

The citation noted her outstanding role in founding the Vancouver and Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Service Society (VLMFSS) that “has been able to make more than 780,000 contacts and serve more than 43,500 women over the course of its 29 years.”

The citation also noted: “Assanand, a refugee from Uganda, has a pivotal role in spearheading crime prevention programs for immigrant and refugee women and creating a safe place for community dialogue. For this, she received the Anthony J. Hulme Award from the Province of B.C. Her calm, accepting, non-judgmental demeanor percolates through all her interactions with the workers, community partners, funders and clients. In true multicultural spirit, she is a role model for acceptance of individual and cultural differences and is focused on the positives and strengths of all individuals.
“Assanand served 16 years in the settlement sector and 27 years in the anti-violence sector. Her participation in numerous advisory bodies, committees, panels, boards of community, government agencies at provincial and national levels, and research projects, has lent a voice to immigrant women in developing policies and programs that affect vulnerable immigrant women while creating equal access for all immigrants and building an egalitarian society. She has received many awards and medals including the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.”

Photo: YWCA