The fifth annual Provincial Nesika Awards proved that multiculturalism is flourishing in British Columbia. More than 400 people attended this flagship event at the Science World OMNIMAX Theatre with Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism Teresa Wat there to present the awards.
The annual event honours individuals and organizations that promote multiculturalism in B.C. Awards were given in five categories - Individual, Business, Organization, Youth and, new this year, Multicultural Excellence in Government. The new category recognizes the commitment government organizations are making to promote multiculturalism, both internally and externally.
All recipients received a trophy. Recipients in the first four categories also received a $5,000 cheque to be given to a recognized organization of their choice to further advance multiculturalism in B.C.
The provincial Nesika Awards started in 2008 to recognize the people, organizations and businesses whose exceptional work helps bring our diverse cultures together. The Province’s Multicultural Advisory Council organizes and sponsors the awards to honour and celebrate British Columbia’s cultural diversity and Aboriginal heritage.
This year’s recipients are:
Youth: Karen Dhaliwal
Karen Dhaliwal is a fourth-year political science student at the University of British Columbia and the founding president of the UBC Intercultural Alliance. This is a growing network of 14 cultural clubs comprising around 3,000 students on campus. UBCIA facilitates collaboration between clubs, hosts dialogues on intercultural issues, and plans an intercultural fair that brings all of the clubs together under one roof to showcase their cultures. Dhaliwal also reaches beyond the UBCIA network to make interculturalism a key issue to be addressed throughout the university.
Organization: Community Justice Centre
Beginning in 2007, the CJC has successfully conducted 22 community-based events focused on countering racism, homophobia and hate while promoting diversity, multiculturalism and inter-cultural understanding. The CJC has taken a particularly diverse and collaborative approach to its work in partnership development. More than 50 partner groups and organizations have been engaged in CJC projects.
Individual: Ed Eduljee
As president of the Affiliation of Multicultural Society and Service Agencies of BC in the 1980s, Ed Eduljee led a team that successfully petitioned the B.C. government to establish an advisory council on multiculturalism. As an executive with the Multicultural Advisory Council (1988-91), Eduljee chaired the drafting of the province’s multiculturalism policy. As director of Multiculturalism BC (1991-97), he assisted in drafting B.C.’s Multiculturalism Act. He also has served as a volunteer with multicultural, interfaith and community organizations since 1979 and has assisted the Justice Institute in designing and delivering a culturally based conflict resolution course.
Business: CIBC - Diversity Matters Initiatives
CIBC was one of the first corporations in Canada to dedicate an entire month to the celebration of diversity. This event is used to kick off a continuing series of celebrations of cultures and backgrounds that its employees carry out through the year. CIBC supports eight employee-led affinity networks that link more than 3,000 employees from a variety of backgrounds. These networks provide informal advice and help ensure a workplace that provides equity and opportunity to all employees.
Government: The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) and the BC Public Service Agency (BCPSA)
The dynamic e-learning course, Building Capacity in Aboriginal Relations: We are all here to stay, strengthens the capacity of the B.C. Public Service in working respectfully, knowledgeably and effectively with Aboriginal communities, organizations and people. The strategy aims to raise awareness of the multicultural diversity of Aboriginal groups in British Columbia by increasing employee’s knowledge and understanding. This leads to greater inclusion and a more welcoming environment for Aboriginal employees within government and in working with external Aboriginal partners.
It provides information about the diverse cultures, histories, and lives of Aboriginal people in B.C. and is meant as a foundation for employees to better understand Aboriginal people, their worldviews, their values and aspirations. The course was developed in collaboration with Aboriginal partners and colleagues from across government.
Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism -
“I congratulate the recipients and nominees of this year's Nesika Awards for their dedication and hard work. The record 223 nominations we received this year show just how many people we have in British Columbia who are committed to promoting multiculturalism and cultural diversity. The work these people do is vitally important in creating a strong and vibrant social and economic future for the province.”
Tenzin Khangsar, chair, Multicultural Advisory Council -
“The Provincial Multicultural Advisory Council is proud of the multicultural accomplishments of British Columbians. Their accomplishments inspire the council to work even harder to move closer to our provincial multiculturalism vision of creating prosperous and inclusive communities.”
- Nesika (pronounced Ne-SAY-ka) is Chinook for “we, us, our.” It comes from a trade language used by many different Aboriginal linguistic groups along the west coast of North America.
- Since 1990, B.C.’s Multicultural Advisory Council has promoted cross-cultural understanding and respect throughout the province and sponsors the Provincial Nesika Awards.
- The award winners are selected by an independent jury.
- One-quarter of the people in B.C. are self-identified visible minorities, and 5% identify as Aboriginal.
- B.C. is the most ethnically diverse province in Canada and welcomes nearly 40,000 new immigrants every year.
Embrace BC - Province of B.C. multiculturalism site: www.embracebc.ca
Welcome BC - Information and services for new British Columbians: www.welcomebc.ca
B.C. Multicultural Advisory Council: http://tinyurl.com/n4nvauv
Ministry of International Trade
and Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism