Multicultural Awards Honour Multicultural Superheroes
The year 2020 was an extraordinary one because of COVID-19 pandemic. With less than a week to the scheduled hybrid event, it became apparent that transition to a fully virtual event would be wise following an increase in spread of the virus.
So, on November 21, 2020, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan launched its annual recognition of significant contributions in the community in its first virtual Multicultural Honours Awards. Annually, Saskatchewan Multicultural Week is officially acknowledged as an opportunity to recognize our diversity and demonstrate the five streams of multicultural work that are the basis of our ongoing efforts at equity and inclusion.
The event was hosted by MCoS Executive Director Rhonda Rosenberg, acknowledging that the event and MCoS support reaches lands covered by Treaties 2, 4, 5, 6, 8 & 10 traditional lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Lakota, Dakota, Dene, Métis/Michif and formerly Blackfoot Nations. She stressed the individual and collective benefits and responsibilities under these agreements and a dedication to work together in the spirit of collaboration and equity. Elder Lorna Standingready started us off in a good way with blessings.
Though the Lieutenant Governor, Russ Mirasty, was not present, he sent his greetings by video. He expressed his appreciation for everyone working hard to keep the community safe as Saskatchewan battles the pandemic. Mirasty used the opportunity to stress his belief in the value of multiculturalism and diversity that strengthen our democracy. Culture has always enriched his life, shaping his personality, identity, and perspectives. He concluded by acknowledging MCoS’ strong values and impact, congratulated all nominees for their contributions and presented greetings on behalf of her majesty Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, in Cree, his first language.
The Honourable Laura Ross, Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport gave her support of the awards through a recorded message. In her words; “Multiculturalism in Saskatchewan says to everyone who comes here, “you can be part of Saskatchewan while retaining the heritage that makes you – you.” It was on this heartwarming note that Meka Okochi, President, Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan, recognized the many superheroes from multicultural communities, who have risen to the challenges of an extraordinary year caused by COVID-19. They are the essential workers – health care staff, retail clerks, restaurant workers, cleaners, artists and activists creating virtual festivals and sharing cultural traditions on-line.
While introducing the Multicultural Youth Leadership Award category, Leanna Bill, a member, Human Rights and Equity Committee of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU), stated that the shared passion between MCoS and SGEU in positively impacting the community continues to make a strong partnership. Each year, the impressive list of achievements of nominees and recipients confirms our collective determination in making our community more welcoming and equitable place to live. The awards nominees were Chilombo Mwela, Student, University of Regina, and Vibya Natana, Community Development and Sponsorship Director, South-Sudanese Youth of Canada (SSYC), Regina.
Chilombo Mwela is the 2020 recipient for the award. She uses her voice, team spirit and her position as President of the University of Regina African Club (URAC) to display and share her African cultural roots while welcoming diverse perspectives. Chilombo is driven by the belief that different parts make a beautiful whole hence, her support for local artists’ expressions through “You Matter” with dance, and “Your Voice” using photography. The subject of exposing and dismantling racism and discrimination is very dear to her heart. She was among the organizers and speakers at the Black Lives Matter (BLM) rally on June 7, 2020. Chilombo spoke out against prominent racial behaviours displayed towards Indigenous Peoples and African Canadians through the hands of institutions that are supposed to protect them such as the police and hospitals. She is a dynamic young woman who wears many hats, including makeup artist and wrestler, so it is not unusual see her on billboards in the city! She will receive $500.
Colleen Charles, MCoS Director and Recognition Committee Chair, introduced Saskatchewan Multicultural Leadership Award (formerly Betty Szuchewycz Award). The three nominees were Chetan Amble, Grenfell Community High School, Grenfell, Nelson Eng, Chinese Freemasons, Regina and Floyd Favel, Miyawata Culture, Paynton.
The highly experienced Floyd Favel won the Saskatchewan Multicultural Leadership Award. He is an accomplished essayist, journalist, playwright, theatre director, cultural activist and Cree traditionalist. His essays based on his life work are being published and translated into Polish language. He is an active organizer of cultural and artistic events in his community. Favel created the Poundmaker Indigenous Performance Festival, an Indigenous festival which includes diverse performers, guests, and audience. Through this festival, Floyd Favel emphasizes the strength of welcoming multicultural communities by allowing collaborations, sharing, and cultural retention, as well as diversity within the arts community.
Floyd is a champion of open dialogue and has demonstrated multiculturalism over the course of his career. He is curator of the award-winning Poundmaker Museum, which tells important stories of Chief Poundmaker, Chief Big Bear, and other local heroes. They have repatriated important art and artifacts, and were the site of the Prime Minister’s exoneration of Chief Poundmaker. He also starred on CBC Radio’s Dead Dog Café. His $500 will be donated to a charity of choice. Both recipients also receive Jacqueline Berting framed glass prairie lilies.
By this recognition of multicultural superheroes, MCoS hopes others will be motivated to be intentional in welcoming multiple perspectives to ensure the best community outcomes. This year, various communities are recognizing multiculturalism proclaiming Saskatchewan Multicultural Week, while maintaining COVID-19 precautions. For more information on activities around the province, visit Saskatchewan Multicultural Week.
MCoS is running ‘Who’s Your Multicultural Superhero?’ campaign which allows the people of Saskatchewan to share successful examples of their multicultural superheroes – who inspire others through their values, beliefs and actions. The public is expected to share a video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram identifying their choice and why using the hashtag #MulticulturalSuperhero.
Awards Nominees and Recipients
Leanna Bill, a member, Human Rights and Equity Committee of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) presented the Multicultural Youth Leadership Award.
The awards nominees were Chilombo Mwela, Student, University of Regina, and Vibya Natana (Left), Community Development and Sponsorship Director, South-Sudanese Youth of Canada (SSYC), Regina. Chilombo Mwela (Right) is the 2020 recipient for the award.
Colleen Charles, MCoS Director and Recognition Committee Chair, introduced Saskatchewan Multicultural Leadership Award (formerly Betty Szuchewycz Award). The three nominees were Chetan Amble (Left) , Grenfell Community High School, Grenfell, Nelson Eng (Middle), Chinese Freemasons, Regina and Floyd Favel (Right), Miyawata Culture,Paynton.
The highly experienced Floyd Favel won the Saskatchewan Multicultural Leadership Award (formerly Betty Szuchewycz Award). Both recipients also receive Jacqueline Berting framed glass prairie lilies.