A Nanaimo literacy coordinator and podcaster was honoured for breaking barriers, promoting multiculturalism and combatting racism.
Aimee Chalifoux, Indigenous literacy coordinator at Literacy Central Vancouver Island, was one of two recipients of the Breaking Barriers Award during the B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards on Monday, March 21. Five British Columbians were recognized at the virtual awards ceremony and Chalifoux was the only honouree from Vancouver Island.
Chalifoux has supported Indigenous and marginalized communities for more than 25 years, and has worked with residential school survivors to help them reconnect with their culture and language and find housing, said Rachna Singh, B.C. parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives.
Chalifoux acknowledged, during the ceremony, the collaborative efforts of all the social services teams with which she works.
“My work continues to bring me to lives parallel to my own – people who had fallen through the cracks of foster care, LGBTQS, addiction and mental health, cultural and identity loss. An interwoven web of marginalization due to racism, hate crimes and exploitation of Indigenous women and youth can’t be undone,” she said. “Awareness of what the impacts are of residential schools and how it has affected how we are seen is not only imperative, our lives depend on it.”
A press release from Literacy CVI praised Chalifoux’s efforts to support vulnerable people, and said she has “worked tirelessly” to support Indigenous elders and other learners in their literacy goals. She started the Red Feather Podcast for Indigenous knowledge-keepers to share stories and her latest project, in partnership with the City of Nanaimo, helps provide financial literacy for women who are survivors of domestic violence.
The release noted that tackling racism and reducing barriers for marginalized communities “is a work of passion for Aimee” and said the award is much-deserved for her years of dedicated service in the region.
The B.C. Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards have been happening since 2008 and this year’s ceremony happened on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“Time and again we see the power of people coming together to lift each other up and work for meaningful change,” said David Eby, B.C. attorney general, in a press release from the provincial government. “Too often this effort goes unnoticed. Today, we shine a light on their continued advocacy, inspirational leadership and support for marginalized communities as these organizations and individuals strive to create a more just and equitable province where each of us can achieve our full potential.”