COLUMN: Congratulations to Diversity Award winners

Congratulations to all the nominees and recipients of The Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards (FVCDA) ...

  • Mar. 18, 2017 11:00 a.m.

On the Spot by Ken Herar

Congratulations to all the nominees and recipients of The Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards (FVCDA), which were held recently here in town.

FVCDA started in 2003 to recognize organizations and individuals who embrace diversity in the community. Close to 50 nominees were from Abbotsford, Mission, Langley and Chilliwack. Having been on both sides as a nominee and a recipient of the Champion of Diversity Award in 2007, I can only say to all that it should be an honour for you or your organization, whether you made it on stage or not, to be part of such a fabulous evening to recognize worthy causes in our communities.

This year’s recipients were: Inclusive Environment (small organizations) – The Water Shed Arts Cafe, Langley; Inclusive Environment (medium and large organizations) – University of the Fraser Valley; Marketing – Seabird Island Health Services, Agassiz; Innovative Initiative (small organizations) – Spill Ur Beanz, Fraser Valley; Innovative Initiative (medium and large organizations) – Emma’s Acres, Mission; Effective Human Resources Strategies – Correctional Service of Canada National Employment Equity;  and Diversity Strategic Plan and Champion of Diversity – Kanta Naik with the Abbotsford school district.

I bumped into a good friend a few weeks ago and we had the most engaging conversation about some of our upcoming Cycling4Diversity events, which he was excited to be part of. A few days later, I was informed that he suddenly passed away at his home. I was completely shocked to hear this horrible news.

Henry (Enrique) Rempel, who, in my humble opinion, was a true champion of diversity for our community, helped out our citizens who were homeless. He met with them regularly and bought them coffee and invited them to his home to meet with his children. Rempel was a highly principled individual who cared about making lives better for people and staying out of the spotlight or gathering recognition.

His wife Katharina said: “He always had a passion to look after people who were marginalized, weak and vulnerable.” She shared with me that they had a person live with them at their home for a few months who was a recovering addict. Henry and his wife moved to Abbotsford in 1989 and have four children.

Christine Wiebe, who has been a long-time volunteer in our community and has served as executive assistant to Abbotsford MLAs Bill Ritchie and Peter Dueck from 1979-1994, had these inspiring words to say about our local volunteers to bring our diverse community together:

“Each and every contribution by a volunteer is of significance for the betterment of Abbotsford in building our community and bringing people together. As you can tell by the award programs, volunteers are respected and appreciated.

“The spinoff from volunteers brings out their professions and talents, and offers the volunteer an opportunity to prove themselves in many ways. In every community there is work to be done.

“What are some of the benefits? Fulfilling dreams, learning something new, sharing knowledge, joy of giving, achievement, meeting sponsors, providing inspiration, laughing, and having fun, just to name a few.

“Volunteering has been a passion of mine for over 70 years, but four years ago I took a look at my bucket list and decided it was time to fulfill some of my dreams. Shortly, I will find out how successful I have been and how empty my bucket list will be.”