Story and photos by Allan Cho
Nesika (Ne-SAY-ka) means “we, us, our” in Chinook, originating from a trade language used by many different Aboriginal groups on the Westcoast. Used extensively in British Columbia during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Chinook was tool of communication between Aboriginals and early European traders.
Forward a hundred years, in February 2008, the Province of B.C.’s Multicultural Advisory Council sponsored the Provincial Nesika Awards to celebrate British Columbia’s cultural diversity and Indigenous communities. Each year since, four award winners in the individual, business, organization and youth categories are recognized at the Awards Event on Nov. 23 during B.C. Multiculturalism Week. Elder Larry Grant giving a traditional Musqueam welcome.
Sitting here are Mo Dhaliwal (Acting Chair); Shellina Lakhdhir (Acting Vice-Chair), John Yap, MLA, and Larry Grant (Musqueam Elder). And the winners Julie Linkletter (President of Collingwood Neighbourhood House); John Donnelly (John Donnelly Events Management); Winnie Cheung (Women Transforming Cities); Jorge Salazar (Vancouver Foundation).
The Multicultural Advisory Council (MAC) was officially created in 1990 to provide advice to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism on issues related to multiculturalism and anti-racism. This year, they announced the winners of the Nesika Awards.
Winnie Cheung is a dear friend of the community, and has been a tireless supporter of Asian Canadian community initiatives, particularly in the arts and culture. Winnie has been instrumental in establishing several signature programs to foster interactions between international and local students, engage the community with UBC, and promote learning through the appreciation of cultural diversity.
Besides Women Transforming Cities, Winnie is a leader in many community organizations, serving as a board of director on the Laurier Institution, Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society’s explorASIAN, Hong Kong Canada Business Association, and the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW). Winnie is also a published author and writer, most recently a translator for her mother’s book Childhood Lost. Congratulations again Winnie!
The audience in the standing room-only filled room was also treated to a wonderful repertoire of music from Big World Band, a group based in Vancouver and formed in 2011 by its member musicians. The group combines musical instruments and traditions of the world in various new ways to create what it brands as a “new world music.” Its music performances range from ancient pieces, to new recombinations and arrangements, to new compositions — the goal is to celebrate the meeting of many cultures.
For Gung Haggis, this is Allan Cho.