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Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
November 26, 2008

Many Voices, One World Program

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge a breakthrough program for young people. This program, called Many Voices, One World, was developed last year at Gordon Bell High School in my constituency of Wolseley by educator Marc Kuly. It is a cross-cultural storytelling program that unites groups of Canadian-born students with recently arrived students known as new Canadians. These students meet regularly to learn how to tell stories from their own lives and cultures. Through this storytelling, the students use folk tales, childhood experiences and traditions as a way of exploring cultural differences. They learn about the diversity within and across cultures and use these complex viewpoints to develop better options in dealing with the issues they face. This results in a reduced risk for identity group conflict as the students develop a sense of voice, understanding and empowerment.

For Canadian kids, the program enables them to look at society with a broadened view while it also provides foreign students with a pathway to enter Canadian society. Through this cross-cultural dialogue, Canadian-born students are taught skill sets not normally used in western culture, such as the vitality of an oral tradition.

The program received the Manitoba Arts Council Above and Beyond award last year and is recognized and receives funding from UNICEF. It also receives funding from our government through the Manitoba School Improvement Program, Manitoba Labour and Immigration and through the Winnipeg Foundation and the United Way.

The students have performed at Human Rights Day at Gordon Bell High School, at the Winnipeg Storytelling Festival, the UNICEF Peace Conference and the Winnipeg Foundation Youth and Philanthropy Conference. The program is also currently being captured in a documentary by Winnipeg documentary film maker, John Paskievich.

Many Voices, One World is now in its second year and its founder, Marc Kuly is working with the School Improvement Program to bring it to both Hugh John McDonald School and Kelvin High School. I ask the House to join me in congratulating Mr. Kuly, the students and the facilitators of the Many Voices, One World program in their enormous success. It is encouraging to see youth engage in a greater understanding of themselves and each other across different cultural backgrounds. Thank you.