Award Week 2019

From November 18th to 22nd, the Global Centre for Pluralism welcomed the 2019 Global Pluralism Award winners and honourable mention recipients to Ottawa for a week of exciting events. The highlight of the week, the Global Pluralism Award Ceremony, took place on November 20th at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa, Canada. His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Centre’s Board of Directors, presented the Award to the three winners and seven honourable mention recipients, with opening remarks delivered by the Centre’s new Secretary General, Meredith Preston McGhie.

Read more about Award Week 2019 below!

Fadi Daou, Chairperson and CEO of Adyan Foundation, was unable to join us in Ottawa due to protests taking place in Lebanon. He and his network of pluralism champions are working to support dialogue in the midst of the evolving situation there. Ayman Mhanna, Executive Director of SKeyes Media, a member of Adyan Foundation’s network, was able to attend the Award Ceremony on behalf of Adyan. 

Waidehi Gokhale

Waidehi Gokhale is the CEO of Soliya, an international non-profit that leverages interactive technology to build trust and respect across lines of difference worldwide. She is a leading advocate for the viability of virtual exchange as a means to shift the way societies deal with difference. Waidehi was born in India, grew up in Hong Kong, and has lived and worked in the UK, Canada, and the United States.

Aung Kyaw Moe

Aung Kyaw Moe founded the non-governmental organisation, the Center for Social Integrity, one of the 2019 winners of the Global Pluralism Award. His NGO is building bridges among different ethnic groups – working directly with conflict-affected youth – amidst widespread social unrest and despite ethnic and religious persecution in the country.

Panni Végh

Panni Végh is a Project Coordinator for Artemisszio Foundation, which works to promote the social inclusion of Hungary’s most disadvantaged populations, including youth from underpriviileged backgrounds, Roma women, migrants, and refugees. The organization is currently focused on community-based programming, which includes volunteer opportunities, mentorships, language training, workshops on democracy and media literacy, support for art and activism, and much more.

Elaine Lam

Dr. Elaine Lam is the Executive Director, Business Development and Strategic Planning at The Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. onBoard Canada, a program of the Chang School, aims to make Canada’s boards of governance truly inclusive. They offer training and board matching so that the boards of Canada’s not-for-profit and public sectors can better meet the needs of their diverse communities.

Rafiqul Khokan

Rafiqul Khokan is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rupantar, an NGO in Bangladesh that works at the grassroots level to empower vulnerable populations to be agents for change in their communities. Khokan’s work focuses on preventing violent extremism, promoting social cohesion, and using folk performance in social mobilization efforts.

Deborah Ahenkorah

Deborah Ahenkorah is a Ghanaian social entrepreneur and children’s book publisher who co-founded Golden Baobab to empower African writers and illustrators to tell African children’s stories. She advocates for more representative children’s literature, helping readers access accurate portrayals of Africa produced by Africans. Golden Baobab offers the world’s only prize celebrating African writers and illustrators.

Igor Radulovic

Igor Radulovic is a history teacher from Podgoria, Montenegro, and a member of the network of educators who form the 2019 Global Pluralism Award winner the “Learning History that is not yet History” team. His primary fields of study are controversial topics in history teaching, especially contemporary history and dramatization in the classroom.

Alice Barbe

Alice Barbe is the co-founder and CEO of SINGA, a citizen movement which started in France but is now expanding across Europe. Founded in 2012, SINGA fosters collaboration between refugees and their host cities by focusing on refugee’s personal, professional, cultural, and entrepreneurial plans and goals. SINGA is a now active in 19 European cities and has worked with over 5,000 refugees and 20,000 locals.

Workshops and Partnership Events

Introduction to Pluralism Workshop

On the first day of Award Week, Centre staff brought Award recipients to our headquarters at 330 Sussex Drive to meet for the first time and talk about pluralism. This workshop was meant to introduce recipients to the Centre’s mission and pluralism framework in greater depth, and engage recipients in dialogue about pluralism within their work.

Positive Messaging: A Workshop on Communicating for Pluralism

This workshop was facilitated in partnership with Refugee 613, a grassroots communications hub that informs, connects and inspires communities to be stronger through refugee welcome. They specialize in shifting narratives and reframing migration issues and they believe that everyone thrives in a welcoming world.

The workshop provided participants with positive framing, deep listening and audience-focused strategies to shift public opinion on sensitive issues related to diversity. Participants had an opportunity to discuss about the successes and challenges that they have experienced while communicating about their work and, in particular, in reaching to “the persuadables.”

Roundtable – Multi-perspectivity in Education: Accepting Difference and Bridging Divide

Education is critical to building inclusive societies that are resilient to fear and hate. This roundtable focused on how to equip learners to engage positively with difference by exploring issues related to citizenship, critical and historical thinking, digital literacy, dialogue and the need to bring in multiple perspectives in teaching and learning.

Two of the 10 Award recipients presented at this roundtable to get the discussion going – Igor Radulovic of the “Learning History that is not yet History” Team and Waidehi Gokhale, CEO of Soliya. Participants included policy-makers, scholars, teachers, students and other individuals from the Ottawa and surrounding area working on education issues.

How Can Pluralism Strengthen Peace? Lessons from the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Winners

The week before Award Week officially kicked off in Ottawa, two of the 2019 Global Pluralism Award winners joined the Centre’s Secretary General, Meredith Preston McGhie at the second edition of the Paris Peace Forum. More than a conference, fair or summit, the Forum is a singular platform gathering all actors of global governance to design concrete initiatives and reinvent contemporary cooperation. This year, more than 7,000 people from no less than 164 countries attended the Forum.

In partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network, the Global Centre for Pluralism hosted a panel discussion at the Forum with Aung Kyaw Moe, Executive Director of the Center for Social Integrity, and Bojana Dujkovic, a member of the “Learning History that is not yet History” Team. Both joined Meredith Preston McGhie in a conversation focused on how history education and community-based reconciliation can help strengthen pluralism, sustain peace, and prevent conflict in diverse societies.

Teaching Sensitive Histories – Bringing a Multi-Perspective Approach to Secondary and Post-Secondary Classrooms – Lessons from the Balkans and Canada

Hosted in partnership with Carleton University’s Institute of European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, the panel focused on the question of how history educators can promote critical thinking and empathy for the ‘other’ in their students. The panel was chaired by Dr. Erica Fraser, Professor in Carleton’s Department of History. Participants included:

  • Igor Radulovic – member of 2019 Global Pluralism Award winner the “Learning History that is not yet History” Team
  • Angus McCabe – Lisgar Collegiate Institute
  • Stephanie Lett – Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Jeff Sahadeo – Director, Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Reception at the Senate of Canada

The Honourable Mobina Jaffer and the Honourable Ratna Omidvar hosted a reception in honour of the 2019 Global Pluralism Award recipients at the Senate of Canada . The event included brief remarks from Award recipients and provided an opportunity for parliamentarians and policy-makers to meet with Award recipients.

“It is not the “why” of pluralism that we need to consider any more, but the “how”. How it works on the ground. The Award winners today will provide us with excellent answers and examples through their work.  I want to commend the Global Center of Pluralism for enriching our understanding of the working pathways of pluralism through their stories. It is so very important to follow aspirations with action.” – Senator Ratna Omidvar

“When I was young, my mother wanted me to be a pianist and my father a politician. You can see who won. When I practised the piano, to annoy my mother sometimes I played only on the white keys and sometimes only on the black keys.

The sound had bad harmony, and it was very difficult for my mother to tolerate. She would shout from the kitchen that to have real harmony you must play on both the black and the white keys. You cannot have harmony if you play only on the white keys – try it, or if you only play only on the black keys. Now I understand what my dear mother was trying to tell me.

To have harmony in the world we have to sow the seeds of peace.” – Senator Mobina Jaffer

The Power of Literature to Change Minds Annual Lecture

Following the conclusion of Award Week, 2019 Global Pluralism Award winner Deborah Ahenkorah traveled to Toronto to deliver the fifth annual lecture at the Aga Khan Museum.

Ahenkorah spoke about the importance of making space for African stories to be told and read in the world. She shared her experiences supporting African writers and illustrators and publishing children’s books from across the African continent. She also emphasized the connections between children’s books and literacy, diversity and representation. Following the lecture, Deborah was joined on stage by Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe of CBC radio for a conversation and question period.

You can watch the full lecture here.

Award Ceremony

The highlight of the week was the Award Ceremony, held in Ottawa on November 20th. At the Ceremony, His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Centre’s Board of Directors, presented the Global Pluralism Award to the three winners and seven honourable mention recipients. Opening remarks were given by the Centre’s new Secretary General, Meredith Preston McGhie.

Speaking at the Ceremony, His Highness said, “The Award should serve as a reminder that we can all take steps, in both our personal and professional lives, to foster a more positive and productive response to the changing diversity in our world. The Award offers examples to inspire and inform how we take on that challenge.”

Watch highlights from the Ceremony!