I attended a grad student orientation at UBC last week. The uplifting video and the speakers succeeded in making me feel like one of the chosen. But the moment I felt most proud to be attending school here and living in this beautiful province and amazing country, was when Jenny Phelps, assistant dean at the Faculty of Grad Studies, began to talk about the BC Human Rights Code. How in this province and this country, it is illegal to discriminate against women, men, gays, lesbians, religious beliefs, and the list went on. She asked how many students in the audience were from another country and hundreds of hands flew up. I was sitting between a woman from Iran and a man from Singapore. She said the laws might be different where they were from, but here we are committed to promoting “a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights.” A thunderous cheer arose in the Chan Centre. I was very struck by this reaction to a way of life we often take for granted, this respect for all, no matter your orientation.

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