The Institute for Canadian Citizenship was established by its current co-chairs, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul, to promote the engagement of new Canadians in the richness of civic and cultural life. One of the many mechanisms for this is Order! Order!, a dinner party that brings together members of the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada with freshly minted citizens to share a meal and brain storm together. The event was on September 27 at Grano Restaurant.
Provided with a suggested roster of questions, and inspired by examples and ideas shared by CBC senior business correspondent Amanda Lang, each table dove into an animated discussion. My group included engineer Joseph Fernadez and human resources specialist Melanie Fernadez, who have recently arrived from Karachi, Pakistan; politically charged urban planner Chris Drew; and businessman and politician John Tory.
The room was deep and narrow, and there must have been close to one hundred of us crammed at the long communal tables. The joyful din at this big, noisy dinner party was such that we could barely hear one another, and the ideas flew in every direction. I was completely invigorated by the recap of her table’s conversation delivered by Keesha Bell of Toronto Community Housing, and deeply impressed by the insights of Amanda Lang. A great discussion, to which I was able to contribute through my experience in the performing arts and education, and an ongoing conversation with new friends in the larger community.