Shashi Assanand among 13 to be appointed to Order of British Columbia

NATIONALLY renowned registered social worker Shashi Assanand, who  retired as leader of one of BC’s leading multicultural family support services organization in 2018, is among 13 exceptional people who will be appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the Province’s highest form of recognition, Lt. Gov. Janet Austin, chancellor of the order, announced on Monday.

“As the representative of the Crown in British Columbia and chancellor of the Order of British Columbia, I am delighted to welcome 13 new members to the order,” Austin said. “They have helped us to grow as a province, taught us to care for our environment, enriched our lives with literature and art, helped us to address past injustices and inspired us to become a more caring and inclusive society. To recognize these remarkable people, who are changing our communities for the better in many ways, is an honour of great personal significance to me.”

This year, 160 British Columbians were nominated. The deadline for nominations was March 6, 2020. Since its inception, 460 British Columbians have been appointed to the Order of B.C. Members have been appointed from all regions of the province and in numbers generally proportionate to a region’s population.

“As we celebrate B.C. Day, I want to recognize the efforts, achievements and accomplishments of this year’s Order of British Columbia recipients,” said Premier John Horgan. “Congratulations on receiving this well-deserved honour. Your many contributions have enriched the lives of British Columbians and helped make our province an even better place.”

This year’s recipients are:

* Shashi Assanand of Richmond

* Ryan Beedie of West Vancouver

* Michael Bublé of Burnaby

* Shirley Chan of Vancouver

* Neil Cook, MGC, of Cranbrook

* Paul George of Gibsons

* Rusty Goepel of Vancouver

* John Malcolm Horton of Delta

* Mel Krajden, PhD, of Vancouver

* Janet Nadine Mort, PhD, of Brentwood Bay

* Tracy Porteous of Vancouver

* Carole Taylor, OC, of Vancouver

* Ruth Williams of Kamloops

Over the years, the B.C. government has worked to increase awareness of the Province’s highest honour to ensure that outstanding people from all walks of life and from all parts of the province have an opportunity to be honoured. The Province has received more than 5,900 public nominations for the Order of B.C. over the past 31 years.

Recipients of the Order of B.C. are selected by an independent advisory council. The 2020 advisory council consisted of:

* Robert J. Bauman (chair), Chief Justice of British Columbia

* Darryl Plecas, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly

* Philip Steenkamp, PhD, president and vice-chancellor, Royal Roads University

* Bobbi Plecas, deputy minister, Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat

* Maja Tait, president, Union of British Columbia Municipalities

* Lynda Farmer, OBC

* Susan Tatoosh, OBC

The Order of B.C. investiture ceremony will be postponed for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions and held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria in 2021.


Shashi Assanand of Richmond

Shashi Assanand is a visionary and pioneer in founding the Vancouver and Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Service Society (VLMFSS). Since 1991, VLMFSS has been providing multicultural, trauma-informed, culturally responsive services to immigrant refugee and visible-minority women, children and families who face domestic violence. This vulnerable population often faces barriers such as the lack of ability to speak English or a lack of understanding about the Canadian legal system.
Once a woman separates from an abusive partner, she also loses the support of her family and the community. Many victims and survivors do not access the transition houses and other supports due to these multiple and intersecting barriers. It is within this context that VLMFSS came to be through the vision of Assanand to provide free and confidential services in more than 20 languages by workers who speak the same language, hail from the same culture as the women seeking help and understand the immigrant experience. Through this model VLMFSS has been able to make more than 780,000 contacts and serve more than 43,500 women over the course of its 29 years.
In the early years, Assanand recruited immigrant women from various ethnic communities and trained them one-to-one to enable them to serve the women in their communities. Each new worker opened the door to that community and Assanand supported every worker and empowered them to develop ethno-specific strategies to assist the women within their
community. The workers in turn empower the women they help through a trusting, respectful, safe, women-centered and strength-based approach. These were the days when domestic violence was a topic that was taboo to discuss openly. Assanand has brought domestic violence to the fore, increasing its awareness across all cultures through VLMFSS, an organization run by immigrant women for immigrant women.
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.


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.


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