Celebrating Cultural Diversity at the OCDSB

Celebrating Cultural Diversity at the OCDSB
Posted on 05/18/2023
Celebrating Cultural Diversity at the OCDSB

Throughout the District, students and staff are collaborating to build intercultural understanding and celebrate the many identities and voices within the OCDSB community. Here are four examples of how schools are celebrating diversity:

Embracing Diversity at the Voices in Action Breakfast 


On May 4th, 40 OCDSB grade 11 and 12 students, together with Director of Education Michele Giroux, joined the Voices in Action Breakfast on Parliament Hill. This breakfast is hosted annually by Senator Yonah Martin to celebrate Asian Heritage Month. Sponsored by the Ottawa Asian Heritage Month Society, the event aims to encourage networking across diverse cultures that reflect the breadth of diversity in Canadian communities and allow students to learn and appreciate that as they become global citizens. 

Students from Hillcrest High School, Nepean High School, Lisgar Collegiate Institute, Glebe Collegiate Institute, and Adult High School were selected to attend, in recognition of their outstanding leadership and noteworthy contributions to their school communities.

The theme was "Embracing Diversity," and a panel of young Canadians discussed topics including identity, community service, the influence of culture and art, the importance of storytelling, the value of celebrating differences, the power of literacy, and the importance of dignity. 

Mary Honeywell Students Experience Cultures Through Food


At Mary Honeywell Elementary School, grade 3 French Immersion students in Pam Shea’s class came up with the idea for a project to learn about different cultures represented in their school community. They selected three cultural festivals and chose a recipe to prepare for each. For Onam, a harvest festival celebrated in India, the students made dosas. To mark Lunar New Year, the class made vegetarian spring rolls. For the Egyptian holiday Sham El-Nessim, students made koshari.

Students began by researching the cultures, writing recipes, and presenting their learning to the class. They planted indoor windowsill gardens with tomatoes, beans, garlic, onions, and carrots. While some of their vegetables grew better than others, students learned important lessons about soil, the life cycles of plants, and different factors affecting growth. Finally, the class collaborated to prepare and enjoy the recipes using some of the ingredients they’d grown.


“I loved researching about different cultures and then being able to cook and try different foods. Learning through cooking is a great way to learn about other cultures!” - Hannah C.

“I liked the choice of activity before the cook day – I was able to learn in a way that I like” - Grace P.

“The cooking was fun because everyone got to share a part in it.” - Lilly A.

“Students loved the ability to grow their own vegetables and share in the success and disappointment of gardening. Students looked forward to cooking days where they were able to prepare, cook, and eat the recipe, many trying new foods for the first time.” - Pam Shea, teacher


This year-long student-directed project, supported by the District’s Innovation and Adolescent Learning department, encouraged students to explore their strengths and interests, communicate in French, and grow their appreciation for different cultures.

Vincent Massey Public School Hosts Multicultural Dinner, Fashion, and Art Show


Staff at Vincent Massey Public School were thrilled to welcome families back to the school’s Multicultural Dinner, Fashion Show and Art Show in May. Students wore traditional attire representing their diverse cultural backgrounds, while parents and guardians contributed delicious meals.

This event – a longtime tradition at Vincent Massey – helps create authentic connections between students, staff, and families. Families gathered in the gym, which was decked out with artwork created by students from Kindergarten to grade 8. They enjoyed food from around the world before students took to the stage for a multicultural fashion show.

Students and Principal Julie Chouinard shared their thoughts about the event:


“I liked trying all the different foods, especially the couscous.”

“I loved how there were all different kinds of foods from different cultures.”

“I like the multicultural dinner because I tried lots of cultural foods and liked the Dutch cookies. They reminded me of ginger snaps.”

“I like the multicultural dinner because everyone brought their own cultural food and their traditional clothes too.”

“It was so heartwarming to see our community join in celebration together. The smiles, the pride and joy felt throughout the evening truly reflects what a loving community we proudly serve at Vincent Massey P.S.” - Principal Chouinard


Featherston Drive Students Participate in Cultural Exchange with Chengdu, China


Through OCENET, the District has partnered with school districts around the world to create authentic learning opportunities for students and staff. Since 2016, the OCDSB and the Chengdu Chenghua Municipal Education Bureau have cooperated on initiatives including student-to-student virtual collaborations, visits, and cultural learning activities.

Grade 7 and 8 students from Featherston Drive Public School recently visited the The Embassy of the People's Republic of China for a cultural experience class. They watched musical performances and traditional Chinese dance, then got to try their hand at paper cutting, calligraphy, and making clay figurines. They wrapped up the morning with a delicious lunch.

This event was the latest in a series of cultural exchange activities between Featherston Drive and students in Chengdu, China. Through video presentations and letters, the classes have been teaching one another about their cultures – from sharing maple syrup traditions to learning how to write names in Chinese.

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