The annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards on Wednesday, March 10 at 7 p.m. will be a virtual event for the first time.
Although the 18th annual event will look different, event organizer Patricia Driessen said organizers felt it was important to continue recognizing individuals and organizations who celebrate and champion diversity in the community.
“Despite, and in some cases because of, the pandemic, organizations and individuals are continuing to go above and beyond in being inclusive and encouraging diversity of all kinds,” she said.
“When we held the last event in March 2020 it was just as the restrictions were coming in place. We joked that it would be the last big gathering for awhile but none of us could have predicted it would still be happening almost a year later.”
The event, which usually features a full buffet dinner with up to 400 attendees, has been revamped and streamlined into an online format.
“We’ll miss out on the good food and conversation, but this year the event will be accessible to anyone with internet,” said Driessen.
Sponsors help cover the costs of the awards, video production, entertainment and returning emcee Fred Lee.
This year’s keynote speech will be by Jahmeelah “Jam” Gamble, an award-winning media personality and CEO behind Slay the Mic, a program that helps people transform their voice into their ultimate superpower.
In her speech, Gamble spread a message to encourage all to stay united during these challenging times.
Past speakers at the awards night have talked about various forms of cultural diversity, including from abilities, ethnicity, gender, age, race, religion, sexual-orientation or socio-economic background.
Three-time world champion hoop dancer Alex Wells will open the event, performing with up to 22 hoops. Wells is from the Lil’wat Nation north of Whistler and his dance conveys a story of the creation of life.
There are over 60 nominees up for the six different award categories which will be presented live over video.
Previous winners have been businesses, programs, initiatives, schools and leaders that work towards building an inclusive community, providing their clients and customers with accessible environments, and having workforces reflective of their community.
Archway Community Services presents the event in partnership with Mission and Chilliwack community services as well as the Langley New Directions English Language School.
Visit DiversityAwards.ca/RSVP to be added to the guest list. Further login information and virtual event details will be emailed closer to the event date.