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 last weekend.
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:
* 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.
* 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.
* Organization: Community Justice Centre
* Business: CIBC – Diversity Matters Initiatives
* Government: The Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation (MARR) and the BC Public Service Agency (BCPSA)
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.
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.