Four Abbotsford groups and individuals were among those named as recipients of the Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards on Thursday night in Abbotsford.
The 16th annual awards were presented in seven categories at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre.
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 and Immigrant Integration Services at Abbotsford Community Services.
“These nominees work every day to make our communities not just more diverse but more inclusive.”
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 presented the event in partnership with the Mission and Chilliwack Community Services as well as the Langley New Directions English Language School.
The recipients were:
– Marc Forcier of Abbotsford, Champion of Diversity – selected for his work in the Black Connections club, which originated at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2014 and has created a clothing line, a 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.
– Antonio Hakko of Langley, Youth Champion of Diversity – Antonio Hakko moved from Syria less than two years ago and has become 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.
– Fraser Valley Youth Society of Chilliwack, Inclusive Environment – Since 2000, the society has provided 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.
– Brogan’s Diner of Langley, Marketing – Shannon and Keith Brogran 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 barbecue. They were recognized in the marketing category for their outreach to culturally diverse communities.
– Abbotsford Community Hub Centre, Innovative Initiative – provides collaborative wraparound support for Abbotsford residents with complex needs, including those with health diagnoses, substance abuse issues, inside and exiting correctional institution, and who are from diverse places of origin including First Nations people and refugee claimants.
– The 5 and 2 Ministries of Abbotsford, Effective Human Resources (small to medium) – 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 people with disabilities or with mental illness.
– Cascade Aerospace of Abbotsford, Effective Human Resources (large) – recognized for their human resources commitment to hire, train and promote a diverse staff, including immigrants and women in a male-dominated field.