B.C. announces winners for 2023 anti-racism awards

Vancouver, B.C.

Filipino-Canadian planner gets honourable mention in Emerging Leader Award category

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

A Filipino-Canadian planning officer made it to the list of this year’s awardees in the 2023 Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards.

William Canero received an honourable mention in the Emerging Leader Award category where youth and young adults ages 15-30 are recognized for outstanding work in building intercultural trust, tackling racism or reducing barriers for marginalized communities.

Canero sits on the boards of the Kathara Pilipino Indigenous Arts Collective Society, the Southeast Asian Cultural Heritage Society,  and the Mabuhay House Society, and also works as an organizer for the Joyce Street Action Network, B.C.’s press release read.

The B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards were held on March 21, 2023, in Vancouver to honour the people and organizations that are addressing racism and promoting inclusivity in their communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2023 ceremony is the first in-person event since 2019.

More than 100 people and organizations have been nominated for the 2023 B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards for efforts to address racism and build a more equitable B.C. for everyone. This year, five winners were named in five categories and six honourable mentions were recognized.

“Indigenous, Black and people of colour in B.C. and Canada continue to be harmed every day by discrimination and hate,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “I’m so proud to recognize the award winners and nominees who are working to dismantle systemic racism and make our communities more fair, just and equitable for everyone.”

Canero has worked with Burnaby’s planning department on ethnic business and farmer protections, arts and culture, and Indigenous co-management research.

“My praxis kind of centers around what kind of supports would have my parents needed when they immigrated to the country. What kind of resources they would have needed, what they need now, at their age,” he told Omni Filipino news in an interview.

Canero shared the honourable mention recognition with Jelina Mitchell. She is a 12-year-old who has been doing anti-racism work for the past five years by teaching Black history and anti-racism at her school. Mitchell was motivated to take on this work because she saw herself being treated differently by both classmates and teachers. She felt if others were informed about her heritage, they would be more welcoming, less judgmental and less discriminating. She started out doing a PowerPoint presentation every week for Black History Month.

One person was awarded the Emerging Leader Award.

Aria Law (Burnaby) received the award when after witnessing verbal racist attacks toward seniors, she was inspired to connect seniors and youth by selling bao buns with anti-racism themes through a website and social media.

Law, 15, also facilitated community conversations about racism and produced a video about standing up against racism.

The Emerging Leader Award recipient also receives a $5,000 grant to be donated to an organization of their choice. This year, the grant will go to Canada Caring Community Alliance for their continued work with racialized seniors, the press release also reads.

In the Intercultural Trust category for outstanding work in building intercultural trust and understanding and/or reducing racism and hate between communities, the winners were Karelya Medialdea (Prince George) and the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (Burnaby). The honourable mentions in this category were Sabrina Bhojani (Richmond) and the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (Penticton).

For the Breaking Barriers category that recognizes outstanding work in tackling systemic or institutional racism, and reducing barriers for marginalized communities, the winners were Indigenous Women Outdoors (Metro Vancouver) and Battered Women’s Support Services Association (Vancouver).

The honourable mentions were Shanee Prasad (Burnaby) and Asiyah Robinson (Victoria).

“I am so inspired by these community leaders who are using outside-the-box approaches to address racism in their communities. Whether through food or an appreciation for the great outdoors, this year’s recipients are finding unique ways to create systemic change by challenging the status quo,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. “I am grateful to all of the nominees for their efforts this year, and all of the organizations, individuals and volunteers throughout B.C. who are strengthening our communities with their voices, passion and advocacy.”

Since launching in 2008, the B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards have recognized more than 50 individuals and organizations.

Other government actions that are making B.C. a safer and more inclusive place for everyone include:

  • providing funding to support several anti-racism initiatives, such as the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network, and Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Grants Program;
  • re-establishing the B.C. Human Rights Commission;
  • implementing the K-12 Anti-Racism Action Plan to equip students, teachers and parents with the resources to identify and respond to racism and discrimination;
  • implementing the Anti-Racism Data Act to help government identify inequities in programs and services, and pave the way to a more equitable province; and
  • working to introduce a new, broader anti-racism act in 2024.

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