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Edmonton: RISE award winners get Sierra Leonean’s artworks as prizes

By  | 14 October 2019 at 06:45 | 2030 views

Artist Gibril Bangura was front, centre, and all over the place, during the RISE Awards gala in Edmonton on Thursday 10 October 2019. RISE stands for “Recognizing Immigrant Success in Edmonton.”

The showcase is organized annually by the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN). It honours immigrants and immigrant-focused organizations for their accomplishments and positive contributions in the community.

Sierra Leonean Gibril Bangura was the featured artist this year. There were seven winners, and each was presented with one of Gibril’s artworks as a prize. Over 500 people attended the gala, held at the city’s Expo Centre. A cocktail reception preceded the awards ceremony. As guests arrived, they were greeted with an exhibition of Gibril’s creative works. His paintings, all abstracts set on canvas, were mounted on easels and tables spread across the reception area. One easel held a special poster about Gibril himself. Produced by EMCN, the poster presented artist’s biography, photos of him, and samples of his sketches. Background music by acoustic guitarist Marc Beaudin and a photo booth by Avonlea Photography complemented the art exhibition.

The awards ceremony began with prayers by a representative of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. Soon after, Alberta premier Jason Kenney took the stage to make a speech. In it, the premier conceded that many immigrants to Canada are unemployed or underemployed because their foreign credentials are not recognized here. He said that his government will work to counter this trend in Alberta. Before he became Alberta premier, Mr. Kenney was Canada’s minister in charge of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. He was also Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, at the federal level of government.

Artist Vasudha Tiwari (right) receiving her award

Edmonton’s Mayor Don Iveson also made a statement He quoted an African proverb, as he praised EMCN for promoting a spirit of cooperation in Edmonton. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with the community,” he said. Mayor Iveson later proclaimed one day in October, ‘RISE Awards Day in Edmonton.’ He also presented the Community Leadership Award to the winner Salam Seiffeddine.

The 2019 RISE Award winners are:
1. Vasudha Tiwari, Arts & Culture RISE Award
2. Salam Seiffeddine, Community Leadership RISE Award
3. Athiang Makuoi, RBC Rising Star Youth RISE Award
4. Jibril Ibrahim, CPA Lifetime Achievement RISE Award
5. Vik Heer, Petro Canada, Welcoming Workplace RISE Award
6. Edmonton Region Immigrant Employment Council (ERIEC)
7. Tim Adams, Free Footie, Building Futures RISE Award

MCs for the event were CTV Edmonton’s Josh Classen and Edmonton poet Nasra Adem. They anchored the awards presentation, along with some lively side attractions. Guests were treated to live music by The Mbira Renaissance Band, a dance routine by an ensemble from the Canadian Palestinian Cultural Association, and poetry by Lady Vanessa, and Sebastian. A band comprising students from the University of Alberta, also played live music.

Mbira Renaissance Band

Dinner was served just before the formal presentation of prizes. The meal was a multicultural buffet; with options like Halal, vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan. The caterers came from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Norquest College was cited for decorating the place. Both NAIT and Norquest College were announced as EMCN partners for the event. Other partners were City of Edmonton, CPA Alberta, CTV, RBC Royal Bank, Northlands, Edmonton Community Foundation, 720 Audiovisual & Lighting, and Konica Minolta.

Cocktail party

EMCN works with newly arrived immigrants from all over the world. Its vision is “a future where many citizens walk with newcomers to bridge their transition into the community.”