On Saturday (August 16), the City of Burnaby was a major supporter of the Korean Cultural Heritage Festival at Swangard Stadium.
After opening remarks by NDP MLA Jane Shin, Mayor Derek Corrigan jokingly promised more sunshine by the afternoon.
Then he took a moment to praise Shin, who won a narrow victory in Burnaby-Lougheed in the 2013 provincial election.
"I have been accused on many occasions of having brought Jane Shin into politics, but what a terrific MLA—the first Korean MLA elected in British Columbia," Corrigan said to loud applause. "It is a good sign because I am sure there are going to be more and more people of Korean heritage who are elected right across British Columbia on city councils, school boards, and the provincial and federal government over the future years."
Then the mayor made a direct pitch to those in the audience.
"Right out there, I see future city councillors," Corrigan said. "So let me know if you're interested in running for elected office."
When Corrigan returned to his seat in the stands, he spoke to the Straight about how Burnaby is benefiting from increased diversity and immigration.
He emphasized that in a knowledge-based economy, the infusion of different cultures results in greater ingenuity, creativity, and innovation.
"More homogenous cultures have problems in being able to develop the kind of creative chaos that stimulates the kind of new thinking that's necessary to look at a changing world," he said. "So we're right on the cutting edge, bringing together people from Afghanistan to Zanzibar. There's a hundred different languages spoken in our community. We're bringing the best and brightest here in order to find ways to bring...better opportunity."
He acknowledged that there are those who see multiculturalism and immigration as "something being taken away from them". But he firmly disagrees with that sentiment.
"Often, you get the idea from people that somehow there's a loss as a result of people coming here," Corrigan said. "They're not able to get opportunities they once had. I think that's wrong. I think there are more opportunities being created for their children."
He suggested that Greater Vancouver is becoming one of the most progressive places on the planet as a result of immigration. He also noted that this region is starting to be ranked alongside cities like New York and London, which are much older and larger, in part because of its diversity.
"Whether it's Athens or Carthage, whether it was Alexandria or it was Baghdad, whether it was Rome or London or Paris, all the great cities of the world have been cities of immigrants," Corrigan said. "And we are cities of immigrants and we are destined to be a great city."