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Shashi Assanand is a visionary, a community builder and a trail blazer in the field of family violence. A role model for immigrants, her leadership exemplifies respect, dignity and acceptance and a steadfast commitment to these values in thought, feeling and action.
Shashi worked in the settlement sector with new immigrants and their families for 16 years. She worked for 27 years in the anti-violence sector, establishing a non-profit organization—Vancouver & Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society (VLMFSS)—that assists, immigrant, refugee and visible minority women, children and families facing the challenges of domestic violence, with services provided in more than 20 languages. Over the course of these years, Shashi’s efforts were directed toward a superordinate goal of creating a society that provides equal access to programs and services for all immigrants, refugees and visible minority women and children. Shashi participated in innumerable advisory committees at local, provincial and national levels—representing the voices of immigrants in developing new policies, procedures and programs to support immigrants in coping with common challenges that she observed while delivering services (see her resume for a list of committees). She participated in research committees addressing topics related to racialized women, often being instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of immigrants in research projects to reflect their voices and struggles and generate more comprehensive strategies to enhance programs and services for them. She contributed to several articles on topics that addressed the intersections between culture, immigration, parenting and cultural sensitivity. Shashi’s belief in community participation is evident in a community-based project that she undertook in which 9 DVDs were produced on wife, child and senior abuse in Chinese, Spanish and Punjabi; the creation of these DVDs involved members of each cultural group working collaboratively to generate scenarios that were responsive to the sensitivities of their cultural group. In her 4 decades of community service, Shashi has done it all—a front-line community service provider working with women, couples, children, youth and families and the visionary founder and Executive Director of VLMFSS, a one-of-a-kind organization that serves immigrant women and children from diverse cultures with immigrant workers who belong to their culture and speak their language. VLMFSS is an organization that is culturally responsive, with a multicultural board and a multicultural work force serving a multicultural community—a society of the immigrants by the immigrants for the immigrants. A refugee herself, Shashi is a community builder who envisaged a life for immigrants that reflects respect, dignity, and equal access for all citizens, creating a society that is fair and egalitarian. Her tireless and selfless service has been recognized by many distinguished awards (see the list of awards).
Shashi’s accomplishments are exceptional because of the way that she achieved what she did. Her laser focus on making Canada a better place exemplified respect, non-judgement and acceptance in each and every interaction—whether it was with a woman seeking help, an employee of the organization, a community-service provider or a funder. She intrinsically believed, acted with conviction and depicted in her composure and demeanor that everyone mattered—that every individual needed to be treated with dignity in order to believe, to join the voices that speak against violence, and to work together to end violence in our society. She worked uncompromisingly for the idea of “us”.
With Deep Gratitude Lakshmi