"Peace cannot be kept by force: it can only be achieved by understanding" - Albert Einstein
The 15th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards were held Friday night at the Quality Hotel and Conference Centre in Abbotsford. Since 2003, community members have nominated businesses, programs, initiatives, schools and leaders that work towards building an inclusive community within Abbotsford, Mission, Langley and Chilliwack.
“Every year it gets harder and harder to pick one winner in each category,” said Manpreet Grewal, director of Multicultural & Immigrant Integration Services at Abbotsford Community Services. “It’s great to see how many local organizations are dedicated to consciously working to promote diversity and inclusion.”
A local Mission non-profit, Sara for Women, won one of the seven awards. SARA is a feminist organization working with diverse women for the advancement of women. They recognize the systemic nature of oppression and power imbalances in all their forms including class, white-privilege, language, culture, sexual orientation, age, ability, geography, position and others. Their policy-governance structure incorporates opportunities to share power through democratic practices of shared leadership, decision-making, authority and responsibility.
On a practical level, SARA provides housing for vulnerable women who are in crisis, escaping violence, or who are at great risk of being homeless. Their Warm Zone drop-in centre in Abbotsford provides food, shower facilities, support workers and other services to women on the street. They also provide counselling and support groups for women and children.
Sonia Beeksma, the traffic anchor for CTV Morning Live, was the master of ceremonies, and the sold-out crowd heard from inspirational speaker Talli Osborne. Singer and songwriter Jada Klein and dancer Nadine Langman also performed at the event.
The event is organized by Abbotsford Community Services in partnership with the Mission Community Services, Chilliwack Community Services and New Direction English Language School.
• Inclusive Environment (small-medium organizations) – Chilliwack Crown Counsel Office, Domestic Violence Team (Chilliwack)
• Inclusive Environment (large organizations) – SARA for Women (Mission)
• Marketing – Ten Thousand Villages (Langley)
• Innovative Initiative – Little Heroes Hockey Academy (Chilliwack) & Robert Bateman Secondary – Art Activism Class (Abbotsford)
• Effective Human Resources Strategies – Shoppers Drug Mart #2290, Abbotsford
• Champion of Diversity – Michael Adkins (Abbotsford)
As the temperatures slowly rise and the buds start to peek out, Spring brings feelings of renewal and rebirth. There’s a sense of anticipation and hope as flowers bloom and grow all around us. There is also a sense of anticipation and hope as a plan for revitalization is set for Downtown Mission. Beyond the renewed sidewalks and renovations of the Downtown Core, we also need to rethink our spending habits and ideas. As a business owner in Mission, the decision involves more just the store front and the financial investment. Many business owners bring their children, spouses or parents to live in Mission as well. And as a result, they are also investing in Mission’s education, sports organizations, lifetime learning programs, arts and music development; and are contributing to community welfare. So, the next time you decide to shop or eat locally, know that you’re not only supporting the business, but also the blossoming of the community of Mission.
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