In celebration of black history month, the African Canadian community, takes time to recognize some of its members for their outstanding achievements in various areas of society and this is one of the most prestigious events celebrated during this month.
The African Canadian Achievement Awards of Excellence was founded by Michael L.Van in June of 1985. Mr. Van is also the founder, publisher and editor of Pride News Magazine. Over the years, the ACAA has paid attention to members in the Afro- Canadian community who have made outstanding differences and achievements in their lives or by helping their community. The ACAA has paid tribute to over 400 persons in the span of three decades. Some prominent names in the African/ Caribbean – Canadian community include Oscar Peterson, a Canadian Jazz icon, the late Hon. Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black federal Cabinet minister and Cito Gaston, a former Blue Jays Manager. These names are just a few among countless figures who respectfully deserved recognition for their hard work, in areas ranging from politics, to education and sports.
When it comes to the selection process for these distinguished awardees, it starts with four main objectives. These values are something the ACAA has held since its fruition. The first objective is to demonstrate what people of African heritage can achieve in varied fields, it is about removing the negative stereotypes associated with African Canadians as well as giving media attention in a positive light. The next objective is highlighting role models in our community, not only for us but also for our children and youth in the community. It is about providing examples of excellence in hard work to mentor the younger generation. Next is to honor members of our society who are active and alive to enjoy this recognition. It is about paying tribute to our heroes of today. Finally, the last objective is attentively pick members of the African Canadian community that make outstanding contributions that are worthy of the history books.
This year, ACAA will be honoring numerous African Canadians that have made significant contributions in various sectors of society. This is the 33rd celebration for the ACAA as they recognize the Awards of Excellence recipients. There is a total of fifteen distinguished individuals that will be honored as Contemporary Black History Makers from a diversity of vocations.
For Excellence in Art and Entertainment, The Heritage Singers-Canada will be honored. Excellence in Business recognizes Marie Clarke Walker, Excellence in Community Service recognizes, John O’Dell. Dr Rinaldo Walcott is recognized for his contribution for Excellence in Education, Excellence in Law goes to Ingrid Berkeley- Brown, Excellence in Management and Leadership goes to Mark Beckles. For Excellence in Media, the recognition goes to Anthony Joseph, Sheryl Bernard is recognized for Excellence in Medicine and Rev. Royston and Mrs. Claire Jones are honored for their Excellence in Parenting. Eric Williams is recognized for Excellence in Politics, Pastor Kay Morris for Excellence in Religion, for Excellence in Science, Dr. Tabo Sikaneta is honored and Jeffery L. Orridge for Excellence in Sports. The final two awards go to Remi Ojo Jr, who earns the Youth Achievement Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to Delores Lawrence for her entrepreneurship and management of a multi- million-dollar company called Nursing and Homemakers Inc.
The ACAA is meant to be a fun experience for all, to celebrate the Afro- Canadian community and their diverse contributions to society. This year the celebration gala also marks Canada’s 150th birthday as well as recognizing the 50th anniversary launch of Caribana, Toronto’s Caribbean festival. Each year, the ACAA also donates complimentary tickets to churches, youth groups and various organizations to encourage involvement and recognition. The ACAA Gala will be held at the Jane Mallet Theatre inside the St Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East, downtown Toronto, so take the time out to help celebrate African Canadians that help make positive changes in our society.