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Here's who'll represent Port Coquitlam's diverse community on equity roundtable

This is the third term for the city-selected advisory group, slated to provide input to council until June 2024.
The Pride flag, seen here at the Douglas College campus in Coquitlam, has evolved over the years to include other communities in showing support for diversity and inclusion.

Port Coquitlam is growing, and more local residents representing a diverse range of communities are choosing to call the city their home.

And it appears many of them are wanting to bring a voice to city hall on what how it can break down barriers for their neighbours and how PoCo can be a welcoming place for all.

On Wednesday (Jan. 18), the city unveiled its latest equity, diversity and inclusion roundtable (EDI) consisting of 18 members — each representing an equity-deserving group

This includes Indigenous people, Black and people of colour, LGBT2SQ+ and gender diverse people, people with disabilities, immigrants and newcomers, people living in poverty, seniors, women and youth:

  • Agam Bokovza Mariash
  • Becca (Yu) Lewis
  • Carol Kim
  • Delavar Ghadrshenass
  • Deniz Bercic
  • Elahe Birjandian
  • Fernanda Friedrich
  • Frank Lee
  • Jas Qualitz
  • Laura McCristall
  • Lily Llaguno
  • Liz Carr
  • Lorraine Leon
  • Meena Dhillon
  • Mithila Karnik
  • Noor Shaker
  • Renu Seru
  • Sunaina Sharma

It's the third EDI roundtable since the advisory council was formed by Mayor Brad West in 2020 with the goal of developing equitable policies for the city.

Some have previously served on other local boards and committees, run for council or have represented the city on provincial advisory councils.

A news release explained the experience of working in teams with boards or organizations is an asset to community improvement.

"Members have the opportunity to share feedback and provide input on eliminating systemic barriers and creating inclusive opportunities that celebrate diversity through programs, events, services and policies," PoCo's statement said.

The newly appointed members are set to serve from now until June 2024.

"Focuses for the 2023/24 year, in accordance with the new Accessible British Columbia Act, the roundtable will be providing input on the creation of the city's first accessibility plan and a mechanism for public feedback on accessibility. EDI members will have the opportunity to join a sub-committee where they will act as a resource and provide feedback on identifying, removing and preventing barriers that community members with disabilities, including physical, sensory, mental, intellectual or cognitive impairments, experience or may experience in the course of interacting with the city."

According to staff, the EDI roundtable accomplished the following during its previous term:

  • Informed and led to city initiatives that included development of Port Coquitlam’s first Anti-Racial Discrimination and Anti-Racism Policy
  • Encouraged the inclusion of American Sign Language (ASL)
  • Encouraged the establishment sensory friendly spaces
  • Provided a greater breadth of diverse voices at city events and the review and revision of the cultural celebrations and days of acknowledgement that the city recognizes
  • Received the city’s proclamation recognizing March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
    • Presented to council the importance of this day, bringing awareness to the reality of racial discrimination

Meetings for the new 18-member advisory group are set to take place every other month on Thursday evenings.

For more information, you can visit the EDI roundtable's page of the City of Port Coquitlam website.