"Respect Works Here"
Our community is rich with people from Indigenous cultures as well as people from around the world contributing to the fabric of our society. The Social Planning Council has publicly honoured more than fifty individuals and their accomplishments by seeking nominations from local organizations and private citizens.
Although the program ended in 2021, we have each year for the past five recognized nominees who have been willing to share their story and accept the nomination as one of Vernon’s Multicultural Community Champions.
For some of the champions, their journey to Vernon began in a refugee camp, others immigrated to start a business or work as a skilled professional, while for some, their roots to this land go back thousands of years.
Through personal interviews stories that portray their background, their early experiences in Canada, the challenges they’ve overcome in their lives, and the difference they are making today in our social, economic and cultural landscape are written, reviewed by the champion and published in the newspaper, on this website and shared on social media. As well, a number of government and non-profit offices display one champion story each month.
The Executive Director of the Social Planning Council, Annette Sharkey says, “We are honoured that these champions are willing to share their story and be part of this very important project. Their stories inspire and captivate. Respect comes from understanding each other better and this simple initiative shows the strength our community receives from embracing and celebrating diversity.”
The goal of the Multicultural Community Champion program is to celebrate multiculturalism and show how diversity strengthens our community by highlighting the contributions of local residents.
“The program is successful in part because of the support we receive from the Vernon Morning Star which publishes the champion’s stories monthly in the newspaper and reaches a lot of readers in our region," Sharkey adds. The stories will be linked below as they are published each month. Permission to reprint the stories may be granted with attribution by contacting the Social Planning Council at 250-540-8572.
Most recently, the 5th group of Champions was announced in March 2020 and their stories were published over the following months. The individuals named as 2020 Multicultural Community Champions were:
- Gary Bonneau
- Hugh Carter
- LIsa Kurlock
- Tom Ouchi
- Ryan Oliverius
- Mia Salmon
- Jake & Mary Spoor
- Renate Terpstra
- Ethel Thomas
Funding for this initiative was provided by the Province of BC. In total over the five years of the initiative, 53 individuals have been honoured as Multicultural Community Champions.