Former BC Lion player and Grey Cup winner JR Larose is the Fraser Valley Diversity Award guest speaker this March 12. (Fraser Valley Diversity Awards/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

UPDATED: Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards release nominees

Individuals include Langley City Councillor Rudy Storeboom and local photographer Mariana Aramburu

Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards are aiming to highlight citizens in Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Mission who bring different perspectives, cultures, and opportunities to the region.

Patricia Driessen, event coordinator, said the awards started in 2003 to recognize the best practices of organizations, initiatives, businesses. and individuals.

“Each year, nominations are accepted from individuals, organizations, schools, businesses and programs that work towards building an inclusive community, providing their clients [and] customers with accessible environments, and having reflective work forces for all,” Driessen said.

The event started at King’s Crossing and moved to Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre in 2005, which is now the Quality Hotel in Abbotsford.

“This annual event has been a resounding success with close to 400 people attending each year and is usually sold-out,” Driessen added,

READ MORE: 17th annual Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Awards accepting applicants

Organized by Archway, in partnership with Mission Community Services, Chilliwack Community Services and New Directions English Language School in Langley – the ceremony takes place on March 12, which includes a dinner, awards program, and a guest speaker.

JR Larose has been announced as the guest speaker at this year’s ceremony; he is a former BC Lion player and Grey Cup winner.

“Larose is a proud member of the One Arrow First Nation who overcame a rough childhood. His father was deported to Nigeria before he was born and his mother, a residential school survivor, struggled with addiction,” Driessen said.

“Starting to play football at age 15 was the catalyst for a new life for Larose. After nine seasons with the Canadian Football League, including five with the BC Lions, he retired and now speaks on his story of redemption across Canada,” she continued.

Nominees were officially announced on Feb. 21, with winners soon to be judged by a committee of Fraser Valley members to be revealed at the actual ceremony.

Categories include champion of diversity, youth champion of diversity, inclusive environment, marketing, innovative initiative, and effective human resources, both small and large.

A big batch of Langley residents make up a hefty portion of the nominees;

Immigrant Services Society of BC is a Langley nominee for most diverse marketing.

Save On Foods Langley earned a nomination for effective human resources strategies.

Small organizations with innovative initiatives include Dark Class Theatre and the Downtown Langley Business Association. Willowbrook Safeway Extra picked up a nomination for innovative initiative – large corporation.

Encompass Support Services is up for inclusive environment – medium or large organization.

As far an individuals go, Olivia Chen Xu is up for youth champion of diversity while Herv Bezjak, Manraj Johal, Mariana Aramburu, and Coun. Rudy Storteboom are Langley’s champion of diversity nominees.

“The awards have continued to make a positive impact in this community,” Driessen said. “We want to recognize those who are our leaders when it comes to diversity, being inclusive and providing a welcoming environment to all.”

Tickets are available at diversityawards.ca/product/ticket/ with the option of single tickets or tables of eight.

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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