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Cooking Up Connections: Canadian Multiculturalism Day

It’s Friday night, and butter chicken is on the menu.

The delicious smells of onion, cumin, and garam masala fill the kitchen as Saurabh, a support worker at DASCH, prepares dinner.

Saurabh loves to cook. It didn’t take long for him to become the unofficial chef in the home he supports. Coming to Canada in 2010 from India, his home country’s cuisine is naturally one of his specialties.

Saurabh stands at the stove stirring food in a frying pan.

“It makes me really happy when I can feed them healthy and filling food,” Saurabh says of the four men he helps support. “There’s nothing better than when someone says they’re full from a meal you cooked.”

At the sound of the front door opening, Saurabh pauses from chopping vegetables to offer a big bear hug to Louis, one of the men he supports, as he arrives home from the DASCH Day Program. It’s clearly part of their routine, as Louis comes up the stairs smiling, returning the hug.

Getting to know some of the people DASCH supports at the 7-Eleven he manages inspired Saurabh to start working at DASCH in 2021. He enjoyed talking with them and hearing about their day when they came through the store.

“We like to say we’re blessed in this home,” Saurabh says. “Good team, good people.”

The guys in the home are all fans of Chef Saurabh’s cooking. Though, they may say otherwise if you ask them. The gang has a playful relationship and guys like to tease Saurabh while he cooks.

“[The men we support] thoroughly enjoy Saurabh recipes and eagerly anticipate the days when he’s scheduled to work,” says Fauzia, Saurabh’s supervisor.

In an article from the Capilano Courier, Yasmine Elsayed writes, “Food is the great equalizer. It transcends borders, languages and backgrounds, forging connections between individuals from diverse cultures. It is a universal language that speaks to the heart, inviting us to share our stories, traditions, and humanity, exploring how we connect with others through food, and sharing stories about food’s profound importance in different cultures.”

Food is a vehicle that can encourage diversity and inclusion.  While Saurabh was working on his labour of love, there were kitchen dance parties, banter, questions about the meal, and lots of laughter — countless moments of connection.

A staff member and Louis do the chicken dance.
Saurabh and Louis dancing in the kitchen.

We may reserve these moments of connection over a meal for the time spent around a table. However, connections happen throughout the preparation in this home, where everyone may not always be on the same schedule.

On Canadian Multiculturalism Day, we celebrate DASCH’s diverse staff. Coming from a number of different backgrounds, many of them newcomers to Canada. Everyone brings a unique perspective and helps weave the fabric of our organization.

If you’ve had the chance to visit our Support Centre, a huge world map hangs in one of our hallways. Included is a sign that invites people in the DASCH community to pin their hometown.

Wooden cut out world map with white pins in cities.

The diversity within our community is visualized, accounting for over 20 countries, from Japan to India, Nigeria, Croatia, Brazil, and many more.

When Saurabh prepares meals, he brings joy and togetherness to the home with a unique flair, just as every other member of the support networks that make up DASCH.

To see Saurabh’s finished meal, and more kitchen shenanigans watch this reel.