Building bridges - one section at a time. That's the motto driving Chak Au, as he continues the journey down the sometimes rocky road of laying communication lines between Richmond's much-vaunted multicultural communities.
It appears, however, that Au - a health department program leader and first season city councillor - has made a breakthrough in his bid to bring Richmondites of different stripes closer together.
Au recently managed to broker a social luncheon between two, apparently, distinctly different groups of women.
Only thing was, when the two did come face to face; they realized they weren't that different and had lots to talk about.
The groups - the Vancouver Chinese Women Association and an informal collection of Muslim women - broke down many barriers during a lunch at an Islamic restaurant and swapped ideas of how the two could work together in the future.
"It was actually really easy," said Au of arranging the meet. "I simply said, 'hey, there's a group out there, would you like to meet them?' They were both quite enthusiastic. I think a lot of stereotypes were broken down on the day. For example, many of the Chinese women were surprised to see that the ladies in the Islamic group were from various parts of the world and, on the other side, I think the Muslim ladies were surprised
to learn the Chinese women were not as reserved as they previously thought."
It's not until people meet each other that they begin to break down the myths, added Au. "They talked about sharing resources; for example the Muslim ladies need more space for activities and the Chinese group have access to that space," said Au.
"They're even talking about having joint activities for Mother's Day and the International Day of Women."
Au got to know the Chinese women through his community involvement, while he is acquainted with the Muslim ladies through his job with the local health department.
"This was a beautiful way to bring people together; we really should have more of this kind of thing happening across Richmond."
Au was the lone voice on city council earlier this year in support of investigating concerns about language used on business signs across the city.
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