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New West residents recognized with BC Achievement Awards

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Two New West residents’ outstanding community contributions have been recognized with 2021 BC Achievement Awards.

Amber Anderson and Harbhajan Singh Athwal were among the 25 recipients of 2021 Community Awards, where were handed out by the BC Achievement Foundation. Premier John Horgan and foundation chair Anne Giardini recently announced this year’s recipients of the BC Achievement Community Award.

“This year’s community awardees are, without exception, remarkable British Columbians who have strengthened their communities during challenging times,” Horgan said in a news release. “As a result of their commitments to causes beyond themselves, they have ensured that B.C. is a better province for all of us.”

The BC Achievement Foundation recognizes the accomplishments of entrepreneurs, artists, community leaders, youth and volunteers through various awards programs, including the BC Community Achievement Awards.

In 2007, Anderson was asked to develop a school and café in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to offer culinary training to some of the province’s most marginalized people. She’s now the executive director of Hope Action Values Ethics (H.A.V.E.) Culinary Training Society.

“Through H.A.V.E., Amber fosters community, instilling confidence in each of her students as they work towards graduation and beyond. When COVID forced Amber to close the school and café, she quickly reinvented H.A.V.E. to continue the work. Today she focuses on providing nutritious meals for the local community, hiring H.A.V.E. students as catering cooks, while also securing funding to offer free meals to the homeless,” said a write-up by the BC Achievement Foundation. “Amber’s empathy and generosity of spirit has helped more than 1,300 people shift their story to a more hopeful one.”

Athwal has been a pillar in his community since his arrival in Canada in 1968, said the BC Achievement Foundation

After retiring after 38 years of work as a sawmill laborer, Athwal took on a volunteer position as president of the non-profit Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara Sukh Sagar in 2006.

“Through this society, Harbhajan Singh contributes to the spiritual, educational and social services available to the New Westminster community,” said a foundation write-up. “In 2007, he spearheaded the creation of the Guru Nanak Free Kitchen program, providing meals for the homeless community in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Over the past 14 years, volunteers have been preparing and distributing meals to this community and others every week. Harbhajan Singh has helped to create many youth-oriented programs, services and workshops, including scholarships for high school and university students. A devout Sikh, Harbhajan Singh follows the ‘service to humankind’ path, this ethos underscoring everything he does. Over the years, Harbhajan Singh has extended his home to many new immigrant families, and he continues to offer community and friendship where it is needed most.”

In 2018, Athwal was one of 25 Canadians selected as winners of the 10th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus
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