By Helena Kaufman Vancouver B.C : On January 27, 2012, Sage Foundation hosted the 2nd Annual Community Contribution Recognition awards. The ceremony took place at the Hilton Hotel in Metrotown.
The awards are sponsored jointly by The Sage Foundation http://www.sagefoundation.net/ and The Afro News (TAN) www.theafronews.ca , a Privilege Group Holdings company. The SAGE Foundation was founded as a non-profit organization in 2007 to recognize excellence in Community Service, Leadership or Multiculturalism.
“We believe the talents and achievements of our richly diverse community members MUST be noted and praised,” says Sage Foundation Founder, Honore Gbedze. “We feel that people who are supported will be inspired to continue to excel and to motivate others in the community.”
The gathering of 100 invited guests met and mingled with the honorees and their families. Guests represented British Columbia’s business, education, professional and arts communities. In attendance at the reception just prior to the ceremony was the Honourable Senator Yonah Martin, the Honourable Harry Bloy, Minister of State for Multiculturalism and the Consulate General Vancouver Public Affairs Officer Charles Smith
A video created by KMG Productions screened photos of the award nominees during the reception. The Excellence Awards presentations also screened a brief overview of each recipient’s nomination biography during the ceremony itself.
Master of Ceremonies, Garrison Duke, kept the programs many highlights moving smoothly. Duke is the current Manager, Employment and Training Programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.
Sage’s 1st Ambassador Guest Speaker
“It does indeed take a village” was the theme of guest speaker Cheryl Grenick’s talk. Grenick is Marketing and Sales Manager, Education & Career Fairs at International Conference Services, Ltd. (ICS). She was appointed Sage Foundation’s 1st Ambassador in September 2010, a role in which Grenick can apply her skills to strengthen community and opportunities for youth through educational initiatives.
Ms Grenick’s career began as an elementary school teacher in Winnipeg. Her connection to education continued after her move in 1990 to
Vancouver. She taught ESL and then undertook positions in administration and program development.
She is currently with ICS’s Educational Division, known as Education and Career Fairs (ECF) and so has the opportunity to impact the future of our youth. She plans to leverage her understanding of the education industry and her valuable contacts to support the Foundation in its mission and purpose.
The 2011 Community Contribution Awards recipients:
Nalda Callender was recognized for her work with The Afro News Community Lifetime Achievement and Legacy Award presented by
U.S. Consulate General Vancouver Public Affairs Officer, Charles Smith.
Robert Waldman was named The Afro News Writer of the Year 2011.
Tory Peart was honoured with The Afro News Community Leadership.
The Honourable Senator Yonah Martin presented certificates to each of this year’s Award of Excellence nominees for their community contribution and youth leadership roles. Specially designed and inscribed plaques were presented.
The Honourable Harry Bloy, MLA Burnaby-Lougheed and Minister of State for Multiculturalism awarded the Sage Foundation Scholarship for Excellence Award. The memorial award was established in the memory of Birgit Okoth by her husband and children to commemorate the care and attention she gave to our community as if it was her very own extended family.
Samuel Isaac Mustapha Jepson, this year’s winner, and his family, travelled from Nanaimo to participate in the Sage Awards evening.
The Excellence Award is presented with a scholarship cheque towards his continued studies.
History and Hope
The presentation of these awards came about when publisher of The Afro News (TAN) and founder of Sage Foundation wanted to mark
the contributions of individuals to their community. “It may have started with looking after their own concerns and interests,” said Honore Gbedze, “but what makes our nominees stand out, is their expansion of their abilities to benefit the larger good of their community. Their continued activity grew into leadership roles with impact on their communities. This set them apart as role models who served by example.”
In part, the awards recognize the work of all the recipients in going beyond their economic, cultural or geographic origins to join in the efforts to build and strengthen their community, in unity.
The evening concluded with a brief message from founder and CEO, Honore Gbedze thanking everyone in attendance for their support of the event. “Thank you in particular to our sponsors and all the individuals who work behind the scenes so that we can establish our community outreach and educational programs for youth and adults. Your belief in this province and in helping to involve business and community and to engage our youth is what will strengthen our province and our common Canadian identity.”
SAGE Foundation Scholarship Excellence Award Nominees:
Passionate about international development and diplomacy, Salina has served as a World Vision Youth Ambassador in Rwanda, a United Nations Panelist on Disaster Risk Reduction in New York and a Global Platform Youth Facilitator in Geneva.
Locally, Salina has helped raise funds for UBC Meal Exchange, taught nutrition classes in the Downtown Eastside and tutored children with learning difficulties. She’s participated as a peer and reception volunteer at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
In recognition of her extraordinary contributions, Salina was chosen as an Order of Canada Youth Mentee and received the B.C. Community Achievement Medallion, the National Millennium Scholarship and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards.
Salina is currently completing a UBC accounting co-op and e-business degree. She is pursuing her chartered accounting designation at KPMG.
Jessica Young SAGE Foundation Scholarship Excellence Award Nominees
Jessica Young was born and raised in Vancouver, BC and graduated with honours from Gladstone Secondary, a public school located in East Vancouver. She is now in her first year at Simon Fraser University, where she maintains a GPA of 3.21 in the Faculty of Science. She balances academics with playing on the varsity volleyball team.
Jessica plans to major in biology and go on to become a high school science teacher. As an active member of her community she’s had the opportunity to lead through her athletics. She coached and played for her volleyball team during her senior year in high school, leading the school to their third city championship in five years. She went on to coach the grade 9 boys team, who improved greatly through their season.
Jessica was also involved in basketball and ultimate Frisbee at her high school, and was named Gladstone’s Top Female Athlete of the year in her junior and senior years. As a member of BCO Volleyball Club’s U18 Elite team, Jessica helped her team to a first place finish at the BC Provincial Championships and a third place showing at the Canadian Nationals.
She’s been a positive role model for young athletes in her community through her success in sports, academic excellence, and various volunteer experiences in Vancouver.
James Kamau SAGE Foundation Scholarship Excellence Award Nominees
James Kamau has been featured in the pages of The Afro News and in other media for his belief in the extraordinary potential of young people. Since his high school years, James nurtured a unique interest in the empowerment of youth. James was born into a community fraught with drugs, crime and poverty in Nairobi. His childhood experiences led him to consider social change: he pursued and earned a diploma in community development from the Kenya School of Social work.
In 2003, James became a social activist in earnest. In the past nine years he has participated in the education of youth through sports, social justice and social entrepreneurship.
He moved to Canada in 2006 and in 2008 he started Youth Initiative Canada (YIC), a non-profit organization to engage youth in multidimensional programs geared towards creating sustainable communities.
Other projects he has been involved with are; Producing the Jammin Local, Impacting global HIV/AIDS Concert, Co-producing the Black History in Film Festival, Planning One Love Haiti Benefit Concert and volunteering as a program Director for the Vancouver’s People summit.
James works as a youth leader for the city of Port moody and continues to use his passion for sports as a powerful tool for social change. Recently he was awarded the ME TO WE award for social action by Free the Children and Canadian Living Magazine.
Samuel Isaac Mustapha SAGE Foundation Scholarship Excellence Award Recipient
Samuel Isaac Mustapha
Samuel Isaac Mustapha Jepson was born Mustapha Lahai, April 15, 1993, in Logan Town, Bushrod Island, near Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa. He was born at home at 2:30 in the afternoon, probably in the midst of gunfire and terror because Liberia as going through a brutal civil war at that time.
Samuel arrived in Canada on the 18th of June 1993. He was eight and a half weeks old. He was transported by the reverend David Daniels and his wife who were on their way to the USA for their honeymoon. Samuel’s parents, John and Toneh Lahai had agreed to allow their youngest child to be adopted and to come to Canada.
He arrived at Campbell River airport to the joy of his waiting mother. Samuel was a child who was loved from the start and nurtured by both his new parents. He seemed to thrive and develop well until Kindergarten age. His mom noticed a tremor while he was writing. Her instinct told her to instruct Samuel to always look at his teacher’s face when she was talking to him.
In time it was discovered that he’d gotten along right through to Grade 3 in French immersion by teaching himself to lip-read in French. Samuel had a hearing problem. He could still hear, but much of it was muffled. He had numerous operations on his left ear, right up until age 17. Brain scans showed that Samuel had some mild brain damage, probably sustained at birth. It also showed a mild form of Cerebral Palsy and other mild brain dysfunction.
With humor, dignity and perseverance, Samuel has met his life’s struggles. He has succeeded despite being told he would never graduate.
He was also told he would never play the piano which he had begged to do since age seven. When the family finally found a way to support it, Samuel practiced without complaint. He had a strict piano teacher who expected a lot of him.
The nightly practice turned into a family affair with his mom sitting beside him going over what the piano teacher had taught. Each year he would be in the piano recital playing as well if not better, than some of the other students.
Samuel graduated in 2011 with a B average. He has always been involved in school sports such as basketball, baseball, track and field and on the rep soccer team.
He has secured a great job in the logging industry and intends to further his education at VIU. His plan is to get his Red Seal Degree in carpentry and to continue to learn and contribute within his community.
TAN: The Afro News Life Time Achievement and Legacy Award
For the past 25 years, Nalda Callender has served her community and in her varied life roles and has been both an inspiring woman and community leader. She has dedicated her professional and volunteer work toward challenging the perceptions and position of people of African heritage in society.
Her rallying call to action is the promotion of an environment in which racialization and ethno-cultural categories, while they exist, are not used to determine the level of one’s participation in society or the level of access to available resources. She has worked steadily to create an environment in which individuals are able to have a voice, find a place and have equitable participation.
The impressions that informed her life began with Nalda’s birth in 1944. She would stay in her first community of St. John’s, Antigua, an island in the West Indies, until the age of 23.
She came to Canada during Montreal’s World Expo in 1967 and chose to make that city her home for 13 years before coming to Vancouver in 1980. She made that journey with her then four small children ranging in age from 10 to one.
Nalda guided her young family through that transition from east to west, from French to English language cultures and from a richly diversified Afro community with many role models and neighbours for her children to a different and sparser cultural landscape.
“I raised my children on my own the best way possible,” says Nalda. Today, she takes pride in her five adult children, Charles Perry, Dr. Tara Perry and Keisha, Nyasha and Maya Callender as well as grandson, Jacob. All are living testaments to her love and care.
Part of that care was ensuring their connection to their community. “I came to BC with arts and crafts and children’s songs which my children knew well. The art was pictures of role models of Afro American, Canadian and Caribbean origins. These were the things that gave me the assurance that my children would recognize and understand their heritage, even through pictures.”
In Montreal, Nalda and her family found a familiar community to gravitate to. “It felt like home to find a city with so many originally from the Caribbean. Africans in most of these areas would not come till later on.”
“My children were exposed to what we call a ‘Black Community’. They had other children of African heritage be active with on weekends and in summer at the community centres, in areas such as Ville LaSalle, Outremont, NDG and Cote Des Neiges. I was immersed in all forms of activities with them.”
In Vancouver, Nalda joined others to build a community she hoped would nourish her children and support others.
In 1983, she was invited to join and establish a Chapter of Congress of Black Women Canada (CBWC) here in Vancouver. “I did this in 1984 and was a Representative for a number of years, Treasurer for another couple of years and later given the opportunity to develop an application for Charitable Status for the CBWC. The application was successful and we now have a separate entity known as the NCBWF or National Congress of Black Women Foundation established in 1992.
Her vision and tenacity resulted in her being instrumental in getting Canada Post to issue a commemorative postal stamp. In February 2009, and since, Rosemary Brown’s contribution to British Columbia and to all of Canada was honoured. Nalda is also a founding member of the Rosemary Brown Annual Award for Women which was established in 2005.
Nalda’s demonstrated strength as a leader centres on her ability to build bridges between and across many and diverse communities. To achieve this, she calls on her keen awareness of how socio-cultural factors can frame the challenges that people face in particular communities, especially the varied ethno -cultural groups of the larger African community.
Nalda has initiated and helped develop programs and projects to enhance the learning capacity and knowledge of students at all levels from primary to tertiary institutions. Close to her heart are the self-confidence of young women and the empowerment of women and their families.
The challenges faced by individuals with HIV/AIDS in particular ethno-cultural communities, prompted Nalda to institute and implement counseling and health related activities relevant to their specific situations. She continues to be an active member of local and global HIV/AIDS organizations.
Her engagement within the community is matched by her ease in communicating with government and in non-governmental agencies and bridging the boundaries of race, ethnicity and class. In her journey, she lives her belief that ‘one individual with vision and commitment who is prepared to do the hard work’ can make a difference. For Nalda, her path included the work to ameliorate perceptions, benefit socio-cultural dynamics and bring about meaningful change by identifying and remedying community challenges.
Nalda views community building as a process for societal change and she understands this change as altering many of the current perceptions of peoples of African heritage. “It also means change in the level at which they participate in the social, economic and political life of the society, change in the ways they have access to societal resources.” From Nalda’s perspective, societal change is both an individual and a collective action.
She has worked tirelessly to foster the empowerment of our community and their full participation as citizens within Canadian society.
As she looks to the future, Nalda sees the addition of more young women onto the NCBWF Board and a new space in the City of Burnaby at Metrotown Place. The new centre will have programs, for seniors and youth as well as After School, Saturday and summer programs.
Tonight we honour Nalda Callender for her dedication and her profound action in helping to open doors for us all.
The Afro News Writer of the Year 2011
Robert Waldman’s passion for entertainment and all the news associated with it began in his elementary school days.
It stayed with him as he earned a degree in marketing and the arts at University of British Columbia. In his 35 year career with Hastings Racecourse, he continued to write columns for a variety of multicultural newspapers in British Columbia.
Robert’s been with The Afro News for more than 10 years and has been writing about Hollywood actors with Afro connections to the film community for the past five years.
His personal highlights include the pleasure of meeting some of the brightest stars in the film world, from comedian icon Bob Hope to Dallas star Patrick Duffy and Magnum P.I’s John Hillerman. That was early in his career when as a volunteer host and editor at Rogers Cable he also had the opportunity of producing shows called Hollywood North and Showstoppers. His monthly column in The Afro News now covers contemporary and up and coming stars on the entertainment scene.
“With our world growing much smaller and talented people coming to live in our great province I believe the Afro News plays an important role in showcasing creative people in our community and exposing our readers to talents in our industry from afar as well. Their images, music and actions help bring people closer and dissolve barriers.”
Robert writes with pride about the entertainment community and covers their contribution to a more harmonious society. Today we are proud to name him Writer of The Year for 2011.
Sage Community Leadership Award
Troy Peart has written for The Afro News for a number of years, sharing his expertise in the financial industry. In his current role he is a Regional Financial Planning Consultant at RBC Financial Group. He supports his RBC associates with advanced financial planning needs and helps develop the overall strategy behind the bank’s key platforms.
He has earned the professional designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).
Troy leads by example. His interests in continuing education and supporting others’ success combine in the activities he chooses to contribute to his community.
He is a part time finance instructor with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and facilitates CFA preparation courses.
Troy originally moved to our community from Ontario where he was born and raised. He arrived in Burnaby, BC. to attend Simon Fraser University on a wrestling scholarship and completed a Bachelor of Business Administration.
On graduation, Troy made time for volunteering and does so till this day, despite his busy schedule. In 1998, he co-founded the Akoma Ntoaso Mentoring Program. “Its purpose at inception,” says Troy “was to liberate young impressionable minds from falling into limiting stereotypes and preconceived notions. The name is taken from a West African symbol which means “togetherness and unity in thought and deed”.
Some of Akoma Ntoaso original mentees have gone on to go to college & university and return to become mentors themselves.
Troy also reaches out to other organization whose objectives mesh with Akoma Ntoaso in supporting families and youth in the community. One such group is the Afro Canadian Adoption Network.
In addition to continuing to volunteer as a mentor, Troy is also a Director for CFA Vancouver and is the Treasurer for McCreary Centre Society, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the health of BC Youth through research, education and community based projects.
Today we honour Troy Peart for his contribution to our community and for continuing to lead the way.