The 16th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards were held Thursday in Abbotsford. Since 2003, community members have nominated businesses, programs, initiatives, schools and leaders that build inclusive and diverse communities in Abbotsford, Mission, Langley and Chilliwack.
“We want a society where everyone belongs,” said Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural & Immigrant Integration Services at Abbotsford Community Services. “These nominees help make our communities not just more diverse but more inclusive.”
Seven organizations or individuals were recognized in six categories, including a new category for a Youth Champion of Diversity. During their acceptance speeches, recipients shared their passion for creating opportunities, events and services that are inclusive for our diverse communities.
- Champion of Diversity – Marc Forcier (Abbotsford)
- Youth Champion of Diversity:Antonio Hakko (Langley)
- Inclusive Environment – Fraser Valley Youth Society (Chilliwack)
- Marketing – Brogan’s Diner (Langley)
- Innovative Initiative – Abbotsford Community Hub Centre(Abbotsford)
- Effective Human Resources (Small-medium):The 5 and 2 Ministries (Abbotsford)
- Effective Human Resources (large):Cascade Aerospace (Abbotsford)
Indigenous Advocate Cecelia Reekie spoke on her personal story of “walking in two worlds” as an adoptee and member of the Haisla Nation. Fred Lee returned as the emcee and the musical duo Silk Road, provided the evening’s entertainment.
Abbotsford Community Services presents the event in partnership with the Mission and Chilliwack Community Services as well as the Langley New Directions English Language School.
Champion of Diversity – Marc Forcier (Abbotsford)
Marc Forcier was named as a Champion of Diversity for his work in founding the Black Connections club. It originated at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2014 and has since grown to become a community club open to all. The club has created a clothing line, colouring book featuring black women and a Black Business Phonebook. Forcier volunteers as a mentor for other adoptees and has helped organize Black History Month events including the popular Not Your Typical Canadian Block Party at the Reach for the last two years.
Youth Champion of Diversity:Antonio Hakko (Langley)
Antonio Hakko moved from Syria less than two years ago and is already making a positive impact in his school and community. After a few difficult experiences at school, he decided that it was important for everyone to feel respected and be included.He became a peer support group facilitator and has made friends from different ages, skin color, abilities, cultures and religions.He is always looking for ways to include everyone and was recently selected to be in student council with his primary mission being to build an inclusive society. Hakko was awarded the first-ever Youth Champion of Diversity award.
Inclusive Environment – Fraser Valley Youth Society (Chilliwack)
The Fraser Valley Youth Society was recognized with an Inclusive Environment award. Since 2000, they have been providing opportunities for personal growth and leadership through their workshops, programs and community connections.Their weekly drop-in meetings offer a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ2S+ and Allied youth in the Fraser Valley. They also offer school presentations, legal advocacy and an annual pride event.
Marketing – Brogan’s Diner (Langley)
Shannon and Keith Brogran founded Brogan’s Diner in 2011 with the goal of creating a gathering place for families with 50s style food and karaoke. They host a free monthly community dinner which draws up to 400 people including those who are homeless, elderly or lonely. During the summer they also host a weekly free BBQ. They were recognized in the marketing category for their outreach to culturally diverse communities. The Brogans believe that the most effective way to include those hard-to-reach people who are invisible to many is through actual daily interaction; accepting and loving every single person who walks through their doors.
Innovative Initiative – Abbotsford Community Hub Centre (Abbotsford)
The Abbotsford Community Hub Centre was awarded the Innovative Initiative award for providing respectful delivery of integrated health, housing and social supports for vulnerable populations. Partners include City of Abbotsford, non-profits, government agencies and the University of the Fraser Valley.
The ACHC provides collaborative wraparound support for Abbotsford residents with complex needs including those with health diagnoses; substance abuse issues; inside and exiting correctional institutions; and who are from diverse places of origin including First Nations people and refugee claimants.
Effective Human Resources (small-medium):The 5 and 2 Ministries (Abbotsford)
5 and 2 Ministries provides outreach services including bi-weekly community dinners and an extreme weather shelter for older adults. They were recognized for their intentionally diverse employment practices that give opportunities to people such as Persons with Disabilities or with mental illness. Their staff is also ethnically, socio-economically and gender diverse. Many struggle with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.While it can be challenging at times, they firmly believe that providing employment opportunities for a diverse population is a benefit to all.
Effective Human Resources (large):Cascade Aerospace (Abbotsford)
Cascade Aerospace is one of six operating units of Halifax-headquartered IMP Aerospace & Defense; one of Canada’s leading aerospace and defense organizations. They were recognized for their human resources commitment to hire, train and promote a diverse staff group, including immigrants and women in a male-dominated field.
They firmly believe that diversity makes their culture a rich one, because the talents, skills and experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds enable them to collectively provide better solutions, innovation and creativity than they would otherwise be able to offer their employees and their customers.