FVCDA event at Quality Inn 2020. Photo courtesy of the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards.

Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards held in Abbotsford

March 12 event saw eight regional awards handed out in six different categories

The 17th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards were held Thursday in Abbotsford with eight organizations or individuals being recognized in six categories.

After careful consideration and consultation, the event went ahead with several precautions in place including mandatory hand sanitizing stations at food stations. Sanitizer was also available at the podium for presenters and nominees while attendees replaced handshakes and hugs with elbow taps, fist pumps or folded hand greetings. Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural & Immigrant Integration Services at Archway Community Services, acknowledged that this may be the last public gathering for the foreseeable future and thanked those who choose to remain home as needed.

Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural & Immigrant Integration Services at Archway Community Services, acknowledged that this may be the last public gathering for the foreseeable future and thanked those who choose to remain home as needed.

“Our current situation with COVID-19 highlights how we all are connected globally and live in an interdependent world. The wellbeing of one part enhances the conditions of all or vice-versa. With incidents of racist actions based on COVID-19 happening already, it becomes even more important to bring everyone into the fold of inclusion and caring,” Grewal said. “I applaud all our nominees for their continuous efforts in building a safe and equitable society for all and all our guests who have come out to support them and make it an energized evening.”

Returning emcee Free Lee quipped that listening to speaker, JR Larose, a former BC Lions player, would be the closest attendees would be getting to pro sports in while.

Larose shared his deeply personal story of growing up among abuse, addiction and trauma but being able to rise above his circumstances to provide a different life for his own children. He encouraged attendees to get to know each other’s stories to really understand each other. Ranjit Singh provided the evening’s entertainment with his self-described Indo-Canadian Folk music.

Since 2003, community members have nominated businesses, programs, initiatives, schools and leaders that build inclusive and diverse communities in Abbotsford, Mission, Langley and Chilliwack. Archway Community Services presents the event in partnership with the Mission and Chilliwack Community Services as well as the Langley New Directions English Language School.

Winners:

Donald W. Strangway of Abbotsford, Champion of Diversity – Donald W. Strangway grew up in Angola and what is now known as Zimbabwe. In 1970, he was practicing in BC as a surgeon where he had the opportunity to work with First Nations and learn from their customs. After retiring in 2014 and moving to Abbotsford, Strangway became involved with the United Church, Abbotsford Interfaith Movement and Interfaith Refugee Project. He is a dedicated volunteer helping sponsor and settle refugee families, tutoring newcomers in English and volunteering with grief support programs.

Sabastien Onyemaobi of Mission, Youth Champion of Diversity – Sabastien Onyemaobi, better known by his middle name of Obi, is a prolific volunteer contributing over 1700 hours within his Mission school district. He has helped organize different cultural events and volunteered as an announcer, anthem singer, and awards manager for a variety of organizations. He worked as Constituency Assistant with his local Member of Parliament and was a member of their core campaign team for re-election. He was recently nominated by five community leaders to be a part of the BC Youth Parliament.

Gladwin Heights United Church of Abbotsford, Mission, Inclusive Environment – Small Organizations – Gladwin Heights Church demonstrates intentional inclusion of all classes, races, sexes, ages, abilities, sexual orientations and gender identities in their worship services, outreach activities and events. They ensure their building is accessible; collaborate with other faith groups; and support other agencies in their caring for Abbotsford’s youth, homeless, street entrenched and individuals with addictions.

Fraser Valley Regional Library of Sardis & Chilliwack, Inclusive Environment – Medium & Large Organizations – The Sardis and Chilliwack Libraries make sure they are accessible to the entire community by being open seven days a week as well as providing digital services and outreach programs. They provide free materials that remove barriers associated with education, technology, culture, economics and physical disadvantages. They also offer Conversation Circles for newcomers, cultural celebrations and First Nations storytelling.

Fraser Valley Bandits of Abbotsford, Marketing – The Fraser Valley Bandits market their games to a diverse community through collaborations with a wide array of regional and provincial media outlets in English, Punjabi and Japanese. Their Community Champion Initiative connects sponsors with local charities to provide free tickets for those who face barriers in accessing pro sports and entertainment.

Bakerview Music Academy of Abbotsford, Innovative Initiative – Small & Medium Organizations – Bakerview Music Academy teaches children from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and builds cross-cultural friendships through making music together. Students not only learn how to play music, they also learn about the origins of each piece which teaches them appreciation for music from around the world. In 2017, Bakerview Music Academy hosted a public fundraiser, called Mosaic of Culture which included music and traditional dances from around the world.

Willowbrook Safeway Extra of Langley, Innovative Initiative – Large Organization – Willowbrook Safeway Extra is committed to building a diverse workforce and an inclusive environment for employees and customers. They launched their Sensory Friendly Shopping experience in March 2019 in partnership with Autism BC. Once a week, the lights are turned down and noise is kept to a minimum to provide a safe space for people with autism and other sensory issues to shop. The initiative has been adopted by other grocery stores across Canada.

Molson Coors of Chilliwack, Effective Human Resources – Molson Coors supports diversity within their company by actively hiring employees who represent their community. Women and visible minorities each make up nearly half of the leadership team and Molson Coors provides opportunities for all employees to grow and move into positions across the world. By ensuring diverse candidate, effective hiring practices, ongoing support, diverse teams and leaders, and unlimited opportunities, Molson Coors in the Fraser Valley is proud to say that their HR strategies are fostering growth within their employees and our communities.

diversity

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police seek suspects allegedly using counterfeit cash at Hope gas station

RCMP say the two suspects attempted to pay with 100 and 50 dollar bills

Truck company hands out thousands of free lunches to truck drivers with local stop in Chilliwack

International Trucks is at 50 fuel stop locations across North America giving away free meals

COLUMN: Let’s avoid public shaming amid a dynamic health crisis

What is unacceptable today might have been fine last week

UFV student nurses offering respite to frontline nurses, care aides

Website helping to match volunteers with those who need help with daily errands

VIDEO: Head-on collision on Chilliwack Mountain Road

Road blocked in both directions Thursday morning

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

COVID-19: ‘The Ballad of Bonnie Henry’ recorded and released

LISTEN: Quick turnaround for song penned by B.C. Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer

B.C. adding $300 to monthly income and disability assistance payments

‘Crisis supplement’ for COVID-19 for April, May and June

Migrant worker advocates blame feds, employers for COVID-19 outbreak at B.C. garden store

Migrant farm worker group calls on government for adequate health and safety requirements

Most Read