The 20th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards were presented Thursday night (March 9) in Abbotsford to businesses, organizations and individuals in Abbotsford, Langley, Chilliwack, Hope and Agassiz.
The event, which honoured recipients in eight categories, was attended by almost 400 guests at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre.
Archway Community Services presented the event in partnership with the Mission and Chilliwack Community Services as well as Langley New Directions Vocational Testing and Counselling Services.
“It’s very humbling to see such amazing work being carried out by so many of our nominees,” said Manpreet Grewal, Archway director of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services. “It’s been 20 years of celebrating these incredibly beautiful stories.”
TV personality Fiona Forbes filled in as the MC after long-term host Fred Lee came down with laryngitis.
Throughout the event, artist Chase Gray drew an intricate Indigenous art piece featuring the Cultural Diversity Awards logo, which was unveiled near the end of the evening.
Keynote speaker Aaron Pete – a Chawathil First Nation councillor, entrepreneur and podcast host – spoke about his journey from a food-insecure household with a single mom to finding his way to law school and his band council.
Pete shared that, growing up, his family was a frequent user of Chilliwack Community Services.
“There’s nothing more close to my heart than the idea that community matters, that what the individuals in this room do matters; it has an impact,” he said.
“You don’t always get to see the outcome and I hope that I can be a testament to the impact that events like this can be, that the services provided by the nominees can have on individuals.”
• Champion of Diversity – Peter Bailey of Hope
With a diverse background and firsthand experiences of poverty, Bailey has been involved with activism since he was a teenager. His efforts focus on social justice issues faced by marginalized members of society – such as housing, food security, education and employment. His company, Free Rein Associates, is currently developing school curriculum to teach anti-oppression and anti-racism.
• Youth Champion of Diversity – Lily Renaud of Chilliwack
Grade 12 student Lily Renaud has been involved in many service clubs, social events and other activities. She has supported fundraisers, promoted female empowerment in her school and helped found the Indigenous Leadership Club at G.W Graham secondary. Renauld volunteers with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship program, Girls to the Power of Math Organization and the Youth Advisory Committee in Chilliwack.
• Effective Human Resources Strategies – Oui Entertain! Inc. of Abbotsford
Established in 2010 by newcomers to Canada, Oui Entertain offers event management and experiential marketing, including character experiences. Their diverse staff group represents more than 12 different cultures, languages, and nationalities and their diversity helps enhance the guest experience.
• Inclusive Environment (small/medium) – Abbotsford Arts Council
Established in 1971, the Abbotsford Arts Council acts as a resource for local artists while promoting the vision, creativity and energy of the community through the arts. Their values include safety, inclusion, reconciliation, decolonization, and Indigenization. Almost all of their events are free to attend – including Jam in Jubilee and Mill Lake Music. They also host the annual Arty Awards and operate the Kariton Gallery.
• Inclusive Environment (large) – TYDEL Foods of Chilliwack
Tydel Foods is a community-based shop in Chilliwack that sells meat at affordable prices and is open to anyone. In 2022, Tydel Foods provided more than 1,000 free meals. Every week, people gather at the shop to make meals using donated ingredients. Owner Brigida Crosbie and her partner provide meat and funding towards the shop. Crosbie has been a community advocate for more than a decade with a focus on providing and shelter, clothing and meals.
• Diversity in Marketing – Jelly Digital Marketing & PR of Langley
Jelly Digital Marketing & PR is an Indigenous-owned agency that celebrates and supports its inclusive and diverse team. Jelly actively works with Indigenous clients and creators, and advocates for economic reconciliation. Jelly also works with a variety of diverse clients to support initiatives that address things such as fair wages, ethical employment standards, and providing resources for those who are neurodiverse.
• Innovative Initiative (small) – Project AIM of Agassiz
Project AIM is a female-led organization that provides barrier-free access to incontinence and menstrual products for those in need. Their goal is to provide each client with the specific products that fit their individual needs and preferences. They do this by offering education and access to a range of products, including reusable products. Founders Miel Bernstein and Tiffany Francis started in 2020 with an $800 fundraiser, and are now on track to give out roughly $40,000 in free products.
• Innovative Initiative (medium/large) – AgSafe Agriculture Association of Langley
Agsafe BC is a joint initiative between WorkSafeBC and agricultural and worker stakeholders. Their mission is to create a safe and healthy work environment in B.C. agriculture through outreach and an active program of education, training and consultation in all regions of the province. AgSafe endeavours to provide their resources in multiple languages to improve accessibility for a diverse workforce. This commitment also creates employment opportunities for those who speak a variety of languages.
Those who missed the live show can watch it air on Sunday, March 26 at 8 p.m. on Shaw Multicultural Channel 4 Vancouver.