The 15th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards were held Friday night at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre in Abbotsford. Since 2003, community members have nominated businesses, programs, initiatives, schools and leaders that work towards building an inclusive community within Abbotsford, Mission, Langley and Chilliwack.
Sonia Beeksma, traffic anchor for CTV Morning Live, was the master of ceremonies, and the sold-out crowd heard from inspirational speaker Talli Osborne. Singer and songwriter Jada Klein and dancer Nadine Langman also performed at the event.
The event is organized by Abbotsford Community Services in partnership with the Mission Community Services, Chilliwack Community Services and New Direction English Language School.
Every year it gets harder and harder to pick one winner in each category. It’s great to see how many local organizations are dedicated to consciously working to promote diversity and inclusion.
Chilliwack Crown Counsel Office, Domestic Violence Team (Chilliwack)
- Inclusive Environment Award (small-medium organizations)
The Domestic Violence team at the Chilliwack Crown Counsel Office was recognized for their work in implementing inclusive policies and actively reaching out to victims of crime.In particular, their office reaches out to Indigenous women; a group which has disproportionately high representation as victims within the criminal justice system. Their office meets with Indigenous women in their community if they are unable to come to the Chilliwack office.
SARA for Women (Mission)
- Inclusive Environment Award (large organizations)
SARA is a feminist organization working with diverse women for the advancement of women. They recognize the systemic nature of oppression and power imbalances in all their forms including class, white-privilege, language, culture, sexual orientation, age, ability, geography, position and others. On a practical level, SARA provides housing for vulnerable women who are in crisis, escaping violence, or who are at great risk of being homeless as well as counselling and drop-in centres for homeless women.
Ten Thousand Villages (Langley)
- Marketing Award
Ten Thousand Villages, a non-profit program of Mennonite Central Committee, was recognized for their outreach to culturally diverse communities.They create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income through long-term, fair trading relationships.
Ten Thousand Villages markets themselves in the community by creating an open welcoming space for people of all groups. They give opportunity for people in the community to make a difference on a global scale by helping to support the livelihoods of those who would otherwise have very little options in their life.
Little Heroes Hockey Academy (Chilliwack)
- Innovative Initiative Award
The Little Heroes Hockey Academy creates an opportunity for children with developmental delays to participate in ice hockey. Since opening in 2017, children with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental delays have been able to participate in a sport they would normally be excluded from. “We only see abilities” is the mantra they live by, and the children have proven that to be undoubtedly true. The friendships that have been created through the program are as unique and special, as they are rare for most of these kids.
Robert Bateman Secondary – Art Activism Class (Abbotsford)
- Innovative Initiative Award
Robert Bateman School was honored for their art activism class which empowers students to affect change in their community through their artwork. Their 2017 class interviewed refugees and represented their stories through artwork. Their art exhibition celebrates the importance of immigration and cultural diversity in Canada, and how that ethic makes us stronger as a community and as a country.
Shoppers Drug Mart #2290 (Abbotsford)
- Effective Human Resources Strategies
The Shoppers Drug Mart store on South Fraser Way (store #2290) was recognized for their inclusive hiring practices and giving career opportunities to immigrants, students and those on disability. Store #2290 is proud to know that their employees believe that their store makes it easy for people from diverse backgrounds, whether it be gender, age, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, to fit in and be accepted.
Michael Adkins (Abbotsford)
- Champion of Diversity
Local resident, Michael Adkins received the Champion of Diversity award for his four decades of service in promoting inclusion through various initiatives including: hiring newcomers with limited English; promoting gender inclusion in Rotary, and welcoming new Canadian citizens in our community.