Diversity comes naturally to Chloë Callender, this year’s guest of honor at the 14th Annual Mayor’s Dinner. In a lifetime of work as an educator, community development worker, and leadership trainer, she has focused her talents on promoting positive ethnocultural relations in diverse areas that include English as a second language, fine arts, special education, feminism, conflict resolution and youth. Her way of connectedness has been to build webs of friendship and social action rooted in justice and equality.
Chloë’s warm and outgoing personalitv is at the heart of her successful approach to social action. She deeply believes that harmony between races easily achievable when unequal social patterns are questioned through reasoned debate and demonstrated alternatives to the old ways. Whether with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board or the Congress of the Black Women of Canada, Chloë’s work has been to break down divisions and create a sense of cooperation and good will.
As the Waterloo Catholic District School Board race relations consultant, Chloë steered the development and implementation of the Board’s race relations policy in the early 1 The introduction of this policy represented a commitment on the Board’s part to equity, for “love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights one’s neighbor” (Justice in the World, 1971).
Chloë helped to translate this policy into an everyday style that aimed for results through positive example.
“I’ve done a lot of work with young people in the community, encouraging appreciation their culture from which they come, and of the importance of making a contribution to this developing Canadian Culture.
“And I think more people should realize that with support systems around a person, they’re bound to succeed That’s what I’m hoping little kids will get. They just need the opportunity — they just need equal access and equal opportunity and they’ll be fine. But if you expect negative things from someone, quite often, that’s what they’ll give you. But if your expectations are positive, very often the results will be the same.”
This same spirit comes through in Chloë’s personal sphere. This is also an important place where the true meaning of justice can come alive. While doing race relations work, a group of at risk youth convinced Chloë that the opportunity to live in a stable environment would help them get their lives in order. Such an undertaking is the essence of hospitality and is liable to cause all sorts of problems and complications. For the Callenders this turned into a powerful opportunity to provide housing to troubled youth. These kids, as Chloë calls them are now grown up and they still keep in touch.
The Callenders have made Water loo their home since 1967. Dr. Murchison Callender, Chloë’s husband, now a retired professor of the University of Waterloo School of Optometry, takes groups of students each year to Jamaica where they provide free vision care to needy patients. Chloë and Murchison’s two daughters Paula and Janille, are both raising families and adding grandchildren to Chloë and Murchison’s world.
As a co-founder of the K-W Caribbean-Canadian Cultural Association in 1975, Chloë has had a long-term commitment to building a positive sense of balance in relation to race is sues. She has been particularly concerned with ways of showcasing how people of colour have influenced North American culture through participation in the fields of education, justice, and government as well as elected office.
“I have realized that a lot of the problems had to do with racial aware ness, the changing of attitudes, acceptance and respect for each other and the lack of education’ in learning about other people.”
This work led to her involvement with the Congress of Black Women of Canada where she served as first president of the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge chapter and also president of the Ontario Provincial chapter from 1993-96. The Congress of Black Women of Canada is dedicated to fulfilling women and black equality rights in the areas of education, health, community development, immigration, police—community relations and child development.
Deborah Crandall in the Waterloo Chronicle summed up this work very concretely. Chloë puts 'much time and energy into fostering a deeper awareness of harmonious relationships among diverse cultural groups. Through various organizations,' Callender has worked with women and children of colour, fostering recognition and appreciation of cultural heritage and self-esteem.
Chloë has just completed two terms on the Board of Governors and Senate of Wilfred Laurier University and the Board of the Kitchener-Waterloo YWCA. At present she is serving on the board of the Canadian Network for Peace and Conflict Resolution (Conrad Grebel College, University of Waterloo) and on the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Hospital, Kitchener.
In 1991, Chloë received the Kitchener-Waterloo Woman of the Year award for her work in the area of Multiculturalism. In the same year, she received the Volunteer Award for community contribution. In 1993, she was recipient of the outstanding Achievement Award from the Minis try of Citizenship, Culture, Tourism and Recreation, as well as the 1993 Award of merit from SEVEC (Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada) for significant contribution in promoting excellent leadership an ethnocultural relations amongst Canadian youth.
Chloë has served the schools and community in many leadership roles such as affiliate director of the Ontario teachers of English as a Second Language , a member of Anti-Racism Ethnocultural Educators Network Ontario, the Kitchener-Waterloo Po lice Community Advisory Committee, Advisory Committee on issues around Federally Sentenced Women, the Holocaust Education Committee of Kitchener-Waterloo, and the P.W.L. Continuing Education Program for new Canadians.
Chloë has had two retirement projects. The first was the first coordinator of the Betty Thompson Youth Centre where her role was to establish the services for 12- to 16-year- old homeless and at risk youth. The second project is Skylark, which is a partnership that she formed with Lisbeth Haddad to provide interactive workshops with groups who wish to promote respect among people. Sky lark embodies 'a sense of soaring be yond the confines of proscribed environments to joyfully discover the 'riches' which lie beyond the boundaries of limited existence.' Or in other words, Skylark is a way for Chloë and Lisbeth to have a great deal of fun while finding innovative and joyful ways of promoting the understanding that diversity strengthens community.
Join us at the 14th Annual Mayor’s Dinner where Chloë’s remarkable commitment to diversity, hospitality and good spirit will be celebrated in fine style.