Abbotsford Communtiy Services revealed the recipients of the 14th Annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards at a celebratory event in Abbotsford on March 3. Held at the Quality Hotel & Conference Centre, the event announced the companies and individuals who showcased the most innovative environments, marketing, initiatives, strategies, and achievements.

Congratulations to all of the recipients, and nominees, of this year’s awards.

Award recipients

Inclusive Environment (small organizations): The Water Shed Arts Cafe, Langley

The Watershed Arts Café strives to be a home where every ethnicity, age, gender, faith or social status is welcome. They are a place where all these streams of life can converge.

The hope is that in our differences we would mingle, learn, grow and celebrate one another, and through this convergence, benefit the local community of Langley and world at large. The Watershed has been in existence for just over 8 years.

Some of the things that keep them oriented as a business include family and community; music, arts and creativity; ethical practices and social justice, fairly traded products, health; quality and freshness, local and organic whole ingredients. The Watershed Arts Café endeavours to provide a unique cafe/bistro experience that embodies our vision and beliefs, through excellence of product and service, with passion and dedication.

Inclusive Environment (medium and large organizations): University of the Fraser Valley, Fraser Valley

The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is a fully accredited, public university that enrolls approximately 15,000 students per year with campuses/locations in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Hope and Agassiz, and Chandigarh, India.

UFV is committed to providing an environment that is inclusive, welcoming and engaging for all; which embraces diversity, and supports cross-cultural exchange through our practices, policies, procedures, programming, places, and partnerships.

UFV has a vibrant community, a positive workplace environment, and offers opportunities for professional and personal growth.

Marketing: Seabird Island Health Services, Agassin

The Seabird Island Band’s Health Services Department is committed to providing health and social programming First Nations people. Currently, they provide services via a Health Transfer Agreement to 12 First Nations communities in the Fraser Valley. Services include physicians, mental and dental health, traditional medicine, mobile diabetes care, midwifery and community health nurses.

Their marketing is largely door-to-door, from the ground up. Their newsletter is delivered to every household, College brochures are hand delivered to every First Nations community from Lytton First Nation to Kwikwetlem to Boston Bar. Through stalwart action and commitment to improving their programs and capacity as staff and community members, Seabird has grown in reputation and success.

In addressing the whole community and the whole individual, and in including their neighbors in their services and successes, they are building a thriving viable community that is proud of what we have accomplished and boldly creating a new future for today’s and for future generations.

Innovative Initiative (small organizations): Spill Ur Beans, Fraser Valley

Spill Ur Beanz is a Talkshow about multiculturalism and diversity. They help the helpers. Their Mission statement is building bridges and breaking down walls of stereotypes and prejudice. Bringing people together, one show at a time. They cover all faiths and topics. Topics have included Eid, Ramada, Christmas, Passover, Pentecost, Vaisakhi, Diwali, Abby Pride, Vanc Pride, Rally against Racism, EverygirlMatters, Abbotsford Interfaith Society, just to list a few. The Spill Ur Beanz team is diverse, young, old, multicultural and diverse as well.

Innovative Initiative (medium and large organizations): Emma's Acres, Mission

Emma’s Acres is an eight-acre agricultural social enterprise business located in the District of Mission that is managed by the L.I.N.C. (Long-term Inmates Now in the Community) Society.

Emma’s Acres provides offenders with employment skills and reintegration supports as they are transitioning out of prison. They assist survivors through the outreach worker funded in part by producing sales and enhances the food security in the District of Mission by creating a year-round local source of non-spray vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers.

Emma’s Acres is unique in that offenders and victims work together on the project along with members of the wider community. Their mission statement and philosophy is to bring our commitment to cooperation, respect and mutual understanding. They are a grassroots social justice organization that works to meet people at their point of need and to keep the community safe.

Effective Human Resources Strategies: Correctional Service of Canada - National Employment Equity and Diversity Strategic Plan, Fraser Valley

The National Employment Equity and Diversity Strategic Plan 2015-2018 is built on four pillars: engagement, education, information sharing and personal accountability.

The vision of the NEEDC is: “The EEDC provides leadership and advocacy fostering and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workplace, through engagement, education, information sharing and personal accountability at all levels.”

The terms of reference of the EEDC establish of the Employment Equity and Diversity Committees (EEDC) at all levels of the organization, made up of a dedicated group of staff volunteers whose goal is to advance employment equity and diversity at CSC.

As part of the various diversity and inclusion activities of the EEDC, delivered to staff through engagement, education, information sharing and personal accountability, CSC has engaged in a Positive Space Initiative modeled on the international Positive Space movement to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone, including members of the lesbian, gay, 7 bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and two-spirit community.

Their goal is to create a safer, more inclusive and open-minded environment so the workplace experience is enhanced for everyone. Small but meaningful changes in the workplace culture benefit everyone and contribute to attracting and retaining the best talent in the public service.

Champion of Diversity: Kanta Naik, Abbotsford

Kanta has been promoting diversity through everything that she does. Her position in the school district offered a wider platform to embed inclusion and draw attention to many different areas of diversity as a worker and volunteer. In addition to working with English Language Learners, she developed the Settlement Workers in Schools program designed to integrate new immigrant families into the school and community.

She has been conducting presentations for principals and teachers to bring awareness around newcomer needs and what we, too, can learn from them. Each year, she has worked with local universities and volunteers time to train pre service teachers in pedagogy, diversity and inclusion issues. She is a member of several Advisory groups through which she raises the issues of how we can send the diversity message through our own actions. Kanta firmly believes that it is important for us to look at the issue of diversity, not through the lens of separate cultures to celebrate, but by finding what is COMMON among us and then celebrating the diversity and variety that we all bring to that common feature.

We can each do our part in creating an inclusive community, but like her, no one can do it alone. It does take a village.


Hosts and entertainment

The support of our sponsors made this year’s Cultural Diversity Awards possible. Thank you to the following for the generous support:

Thank you to our master of ceremonies for the evening, Fred Lee; our keynote speaker, Tamara Taggart; and saxophonist Karla Sax for ensuring the evening was fun, inspirational, and entertaining.

See more photos of the event.

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