Three Winnipeg residents were recently honoured by the Nigeria-Canada Congress of Manitoba for their community-building efforts.
Yisa Akinbolaji, Flo Oramasionwu, and Minister of Justice Andrew Swan all received NICCOM community service awards at a celebration held Oct. 5 at the Centro Caboto Centre.
In addition to recognizing individual accomplishments, the event celebrated the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence with music, dance and a cultural display. The evening also included the presentation of 10 scholarships of $250 each to African-Canadian post-secondary students.
NICCOM president Sunday Olukoju said the purpose of the event was to celebrate Nigeria’s independence by giving back to the community.
Olukoju, a Fort Richmond resident, said he was delighted to present the community service awards to the three recipients.
This is the fourth year NICCOM has presented the awards. Recipients are chosen by a committee of NICCOM representatives and are required to have done something for their community to be eligible.
"We (want to) recognize people who have given back to the community, those who younger people can look up to for inspiration," Olukoju said.
"We look at people who have something they can showcase… and are involved and giving back to the community…. The three we selected this year really measure up to that commitment."
Akinbolaji, a visual artist, said he was humbled and encouraged to receive the award. The St. Vital resident moved to Winnipeg from Nigeria in 1997, and since his arrival, has been actively involved in Winnipeg’s arts community.
Olukoju said Akinbolaji was selected based largely on the mosaic he presented to the local chapter of the CNIB.
"(The award) tells me I’m not wasting my time, and that people are paying attention," Akinbolaji said.
"I feel honoured to be given the award, there’s no doubt about that."
Olukoju said Oramasionwu, a local musician, was selected for the award because of her inspirational music.
"She has been an inspirational singer and songwriter within the Winnipeg African community," he said.
"Her songs have been very inspiring. The younger ladies look up to her for inspiration."
Oramasionwu said winning the award was a huge honour, and a big surprise.
"It couldn’t make me more proud to be Nigerian-Canadian. It really shows me that my community supports me, and (it) feels so nice to know they’re standing by and encouraging me," Oramasionwu said.
Olukoju said Swan was recognized for his involvement in the Nigerian-Manitoban community.
"At any community event you’ll see Andrew Swan. He inspires the young people," Olukoju said.
Swan said he was honoured to be recognized as a role model by the province’s Nigerian community.
"It’s been really great to get to know folks in the Nigerian community. It’s a very proud community in Manitoba, and a growing (one)," Swan said.
"It’s certainly nice to be recognized for being a role model in the community."