“As a second-generation immigrant and former client of ICA, receiving the Diversity Scholarship from the Inter-Cultural Association is a great honour and privilege that I hold very close to my heart.” — Mina Guan, Diversity Scholarship Award Winner
For many years now, ICA has been proud to award Diversity Scholarships to one undergraduate student and one graduate student. And now, thanks to the Canadian International Council, we were also able to make an award to a high school student!
The costs of higher education in Canada are rising and ICA is committed to supporting students who are dedicated to diversity and inclusion in their studies and their lives. This year, we are proud to share the three 2020 Diversity Scholarship winners with you:
High School Student – Fuko Habu
Fuko Habu is a high school graduate from Mount Douglas Secondary School. She moved to Canada from Japan as an international student almost seven years ago. Not having any knowledge of how to speak English, the communication barrier challenged Fuko but she quickly overcame this obstacle and became fluent within one year. Wanting to help people who were also learning English as a second language, Fuko volunteered for the Speakwell ESL Program.
Throughout her high school years, she was also a part of other volunteer work such as Youth Leaders in Training Program at the Fairfield Gonzales Community Association Summer Camp, TD Victoria International JazzFest, and at Quadra Village Day. Fuko is eager to start her studies at Camosun College, where she plans to study Psychology, Math, and Computer Science in pursuit of becoming a counsellor for immigrants and refugees.
Undergraduate Student – Mina Guan
Mina first connected with the Inter-Cultural Association as a child, attending our daycare program with her sister. More than a decade later, she returned to ICA as a volunteer, to give back to others the same feelings of inclusion, respect, and care she received as a child. She began volunteering with ICA’s Youth and Family Services program at the “Landing Spot” when she was in high school. Since then, she has worked as a Summer Intern in 2018 and as a volunteer mentor in the “Conversation Circles” program.
When she is not engaging in community service, Mina enjoys practicing Kenpo Karate, playing piano, and being pen pal. Mina is currently in her second year at the University of Victoria, studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, a Minor in French, and a certificate in Chinese language and culture.
Mina shared her feelings about receiving this award: “Without the support of the organization as a child, it is unlikely that I would have the same opportunities that have brought me to where I am today. Not only has the scholarship provided funds for my education in Linguistics at UVic, it has also given me the confidence and inspiration to continue advocating for newcomer families through service.”
Graduate Student – Karen Hira
Karen Hira is a second-generation immigrant who was born and raised on the unceded Coast Salish Territory of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ nations. Karen is a Research, Audit, and Policy Analyst with the Victoria Police Department and is pursuing a PhD in Public Administration at the University of Victoria. Karen previously obtained her Bachelor of Social Work in 2015 and Masters of Public Administration in 2016.
Karen has a strong interest in criminal justice reform, specifically as it relates to over-policing and overrepresentation of racialized and Indigenous persons in the criminal justice system. Karen’s position with the police department is a relatively new addition to the policing landscape in Canada and one that can make a difference in how policing is carried out in Victoria. Karen has led and completed a number of research projects that have resulted in tangible and evidence-based outcomes relating to cultural awareness, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the police department.
Karen’s long-term goal is to develop and teach a course at the college or university level which will explore, in part, the link between colonization and involvement in the criminal justice system, discrepancies in media coverage and sentencing between white and non-white offenders.
Congratulations to all of the award winners who received their well-deserved recognition at ICA’s Annual General Meeting on September 16, 2020. We know all three will go on to make important contributions to their communities.