The pilot Dialogue Committee decided to focus its social cohesion strategy on three main areas: 1) encouraging Dieppe residents to make their civic voices heard; 2) boosting young people’s confidence in the future; and 3) fostering international students’ integration within the community. Moncef Lakouas, Dieppe’s Dialogue Leader, explains the situation.
What is your plan for encouraging local residents to make their voices heard more?
Our first line of action will be to submit recommendations to Dieppe municipal council aimed at rousing and supporting the community’s interest in municipal affairs, in addition to encouraging residents to exercise their voting rights in the 2020 municipal elections. We are currently analyzing various activities that could be developed in this regard, with an emphasis on the impact that they could have on local residents’ participation. The ideas we are studying include organizing public debates for the candidates, public forums on various issues of interest, mock elections in schools and question periods during public council meetings, which could be broadcast on social media.
What initiatives, in particular, will you be developing for young people?
We’re going to organize an employment and “twinning” economic forum. Our goal is to show local residents, particularly young people, the range of opportunities that the city of Dieppe has to offer, in addition to creating synergies by giving them a chance to broaden their networks of contacts. The forum will be open to the general public but will be geared towards international students, whose integration is one of our main goals!
In your view, how is the integration of international students a key driver of social cohesion in Dieppe ?
All indicators are looking positive in the Dieppe region, which offers one of the best qualities of life in the province. However, although 65% of international students want to move to Dieppe, when all is said and done, only 16% end up staying. Their economic and social integration will be a pivotal issue in the future!
What is your plan for encouraging international students to keep on living in Dieppe after they graduate?
In collaboration with the Dialogue NB team; Luc Richard, director of the City of Dieppe’s organizational performance department; and a group of young students from CCNB Dieppe and the University of Moncton, we focused our strategy on developing projects designed to generate intercultural links. The goal is to give Dieppe residents an opportunity to discover the home cultures of these young people. From the opposing perspective, we also want to give these students the tools they need to better understand their host region and to set down solid roots.
In September, we will be organizing a local residents’ forum aimed at fostering dialogue around the integration and inclusion of international students. In October, the pilot Dieppe Dialogue Committee will also be helping to organize the New Brunswick African Festival and will be inviting international students to join the volunteer team.
And we’ve only just begun! It’s an ideal time for developing these types of projects. In Dieppe, I see people who are open to the world and to diversity. I also see international students who are eager to learn and enjoy new experiences. There is an alignment of forces and desires here. We can build a vibrant community that could serve as a hotbed for diversity!
- (1) The Dieppe Dialogue Committee does not yet have its definitive line-up; that is why it is described as a “pilot” committee. It currently has six members: Moncef Lakouas (Dialogue Leader), Luc Richard, Tennessee Berdat, Ianick Egnath, Youwe Bichara and Mourad Debadir.
- (2) Municipal council’s report on health (sources).