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Race relations head promises more programs

Friday November 22, 2002


Anne-Marie Millsap is Cambridge's new race relations co-ordinator.
The city's new race relations co-ordinator promises to promote greater understanding with a wider array of programs and workshops.

Anne-Marie Millsap, a sociology grad and former English teacher in Colombia, was introduced this week at a reception held at old City Hall.

"In places like Colombia, I got to experience firsthand what it felt like to be a minority," said Millsap.

Cambridge is a cultural melting pot, what with Galt's Scottish ancestry and the Germans who originally settled Preston and Hespeler. In the late '50s and '60s, an estimated 20,000 Portuguese poured into town, followed by another 10,000 or 15,000 Newfoundlanders, drawn to the abundance of jobs offered by the city's then-flourishing textiles industry.

New immigrants continue to filter in, as Waterloo Region is one of Canada's most popular landing areas for new immigrants, said Ines Sousa Batista, director for immigrant services for the Cambridge YMCA.

An average of about 350 new immigrants, most of them from the East Indies, Pakistan, Africa and China, have settled in Cambridge the past two years.

With such a mix, racial intolerance might be flourishing except that Cambridge has one of the most progressive, proactive anti-racial programs going, Sousa Batista said.

"The reason you do not see obvious racism taking place is due to the vision of its leaders, its politicians, city staff."

The race relations co-ordinator is expected to promote diversity and cultural events through education and a variety of community events.

Expect to see workshops and dialogues next year that explore the beliefs of Jews, Muslims, Baha'is and Sikhs, and more presentations from the Jake is From Jamaica puppeteers, whose presentations were seen by about 2,000 schoolchildren in the city in the past year.

The city's race relations and immigrant services department is administered by the local YMCA, thorough funding by the City of Cambridge and the United Way.

©Copyright 2002, The Cambridge Reporter

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