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Grads Face Diversity
Linda Olson speaks at Harvest Festival Banquet
Carla Giesbrecht as the featured musical guest for Saturday's Harvest Festival Banquet

College Grads Will Face Culture with Double the Foreign Population Than Previous Generation

On Sept. 24 and 25, Providence College and Seminary hosted the Harvest Festival Banquet, focusing on the theme of diversity.

Friday evening's speaker was Lorna Dueck, executive producer of Listen Up TV, who passionately presented a compelling view of the diverse world we live in, describing the changes in Canadian culture as it applies to new graduates from Christian post-secondary institutions.

“Our graduates are heading into a workplace, a culture, with twice as many non-Christians than before,” said Dueck. “In 20 years, over 30 per cent of the Canadian population under the age of 15 will be foreign-born or have a foreign-born parent, compared with around 17 per cent today."

"This means that the non-Christian population is going to double,” said Dueck, who was interpreting the numbers from Statistics Canada.

Dueck also commented boldly on the recent attention on Christians in the media in the United States, namely the Florida pastor who was planning to burn Qur’ans, and the Christians who were trying to prevent the building of a mosque at Ground Zero in New York. She said that she was part of a group who communicated with the Florida pastor about his actions.

“What we think and what we do can go all around the world,” said Dueck. “Can faith groups really be so diverse? Yes, they can. We are more connected to diversity and its consequences than we realize.”

Using an illustration from the bible, Dueck encouraged Christians to not place blame. “Jesus points out that the leaders of the time were asking the wrong question. It is not about who is to blame. He asks them to consider what can God do about the current situation,” said Dueck.

Similarly, Dueck encouraged the banquet guests to ask, ‘What can God do with this?’ when it comes to tackling the issue of diversity in Canadian culture.

“Will we be able to act on Jesus’ command to love one another?” Dueck asked. “We need to be on our knees asking, what can God do with the world as it is changing? What does it mean to respond to diversity?”

Earlier in the evening, David Johnson, executive vice-president and provost, had summarized some of Providence’s major achievements in the past three years as well the plan for the school’s future.

“It is amazing what God has done over the last three years at Providence,” said Johnson, “building the Reimer Student Life Centre, advancing the recognition of the Providence degree, achieving the Knowledge Infrastructure Program grant. The strategic directives we’ve chosen for ourselves are derived from three words: vitality, integrity, diversity. Part of our goal is to work at the intersection of faith and life so that our students are ready to meet the world and the marketplace.”

Dueck lent her support to Providence, saying, “I’m really proud of what Providence is doing on this issue. Providence really gets it that the world is really changing. Providence is working to bring the truth to a world where the non-Christian population is going to double. This place is raising up leaders, and God bless you for your strategic plan to reach Canadians and the world.”

The Harvest Festival Banquet, a two-part event, also featured Linda Olson, life-coach, speaker, and author, who was the guest speaker on Saturday, Sept. 25. Olson shared her journey from her humble beginnings at Providence to her struggles to pursue her double masters, and the many years that followed as a counselor and leader in women’s ministry.

Olson said that her three years in dorm at Providence helped create a firm foundation in her life. Since her first week at college 37 years ago, she still confesses the same.

“(Coming to Providence) was the beginning of God transforming my life,” said Olson. “I also graduated having grown emotionally in so many ways...but I also grew spirituality.”

The two-day event raised over $50 thousand for Providence’s mission to teach people to grow in character and knowledge for leadership and service. Providence graduates serve in Manitoba, Canada, and myriad countries around the world.

Dueck is the president of Media Voice Generation and the executive producer of Listen Up TV, the flagship program of Media Voice Generation that examines the spiritual side of news and current events. Listen Up began as a feature within 100 Huntley Street (then co-hosted by Dueck), and launched as an independent program in 2003. Dueck is a popular television host and public speaker, as well as a regular commentary writer on faith and public life in Canada’s largest national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

Olson is the founder of Made for Something More, an inspirational speaker, author of Exceeding your Expectations, and also a leadership coach. She offers inspirational messages with passion, purpose, wisdom, and humor. With her background as a Marriage & Family therapist and over 35 years of leadership in ministry and business, she has helped thousands of people break through their fears to follow their dreams.

Providence College and Seminary is a Christian academic community in the evangelical tradition that teaches people to grow in character and knowledge for leadership and service. For more information visit or

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