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

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

Abbotsford takes home four wins at Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards

Donald Strangway, Gladwin Heights United Church, Bakerview Music Academy, and FV Bandits recognized

Three Abbotsford organizations and one individual took home awards at the 17th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards.

The awards were held Thursday, March 12 at Abbotsford’s Quality Inn, with eight organizations or individuals being recognized in six categories.

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.

“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.


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.


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

Just Posted

Some of the hundreds of pounds of trash removed by divers last month from Abbotsford’s Walmsley Lake.(Henry Wang photo)
VIDEO: Divers remove 462 pounds of trash from Abbotsford lake

Walmsley Lake dive uncovers several tires, hundreds of drink containers and a tent

Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is scheduled to bring his Seriously? tour to Abbotsford Centre on Nov. 4 after it was cancelled twice in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Jeff Dunham’s ‘Seriously?’ tour rescheduled for Abbotsford Centre

Show set for Nov. 4 after twice being cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
Harrison woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Once a star player with the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team, Kayli Sartori is moving into a new role coaching the next generation of Cascades. (UFV photo)
Chilliwack’s Kayli Sartori goes from court to coach with UFV basketball Cascades

Sartori is taking a new path as part of the U-Sports female basketball apprentice coaching program

Once again Fraser East is among the health service delivery areas with the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province. (Datawrapper)
Fraser East sees third highest rate of COVID-19 cases in B.C.

The region is seeing a sustained increase in new COVID-19 cases

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Trent Miner is returning to the Vancouver Giants, the team announced. He has been released by the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.(Rik Fedyck/Vancouver Giants)
Trent Miner returns to play goal for Vancouver Giants

Netminder was part of epic 11-game winning-streak by Langley-based team

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Most Read