As they have done for the past 32 years, the Black Theatre Workshop kicked off Black History Month in fine style with the 33rd annual Vision Celebration Gala on Saturday, February 2.
The celebration, which has become a signature event on the social calendar of many Montrealers, also provided an opportunity for the organization and the community to recognize this year’s crop of luminaries who have blessed the city with their achievements and contributions.
This year, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award was presented to Fabienne Colas, founder of the Montreal International Black Film Festival.
The Dr. Clarence Bayne Community Service Award was presented to Nancy Oliver-MacKenzie, a stalwart educator and community advocate,
Jared Warden-Joseph received the Victor Phillips Award, and Dayane Ntibarikure took home the Gloria Mitchell-Aleong Award.
The evening, held at the OMNI Hotel in downtown Montreal, sparkled with the Who’s-Who of the arts and culture scene from both the English speaking and Francophone sectors of the community, as well as good representation of our emerging political and business leaders.
Elysia Bryan-Baynes and Angelo Cadet served as masters of ceremonies, while Haitian dance group Mapou Ginen offered a gripping performance. DJ Don Smooth kept a nice groove all evening long.
Vision Gala Honourees: Jared Warden-Joseph, Dayane Ntibarikure, Fabienne Colas and Nancy Oliver-MacKenzie!
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Cabrera.
“My hope is that future generations will be inspired by the perseverance of their forefathers…”
On Saturday, February 2, Ms. Nancy Oliver-McKenzie accepted the Dr. Clarence Bayne Community Service Award at BTW’s Vision Gala Celebration at the OMNI Hotel.
Hers’ was a stirring acceptance speech that called for community awareness on issues of alienation and finding our place in society.
Thank you, members of the Black Theatre Workshop, who so generously bestowed this great honour upon me. And a sincere Thank You and congratulations to Mme. Fabienne Colas for her contributions to the artistic mosaic of Montreal and beyond, through her foundation and its many projects. Dayane and Jerod, we appreciate your sharing your talents.
It is with genuine humility and reluctance that I accept this reward.
My activities in the community are a response to expressed needs from associates who believe I can contribute.
The focus really belongs on the community associations that deal with populations ravaged by isolation, poverty, discrimination and deprivation.
These conditions allow an ordinary citizen like me to be of service in tackling some of society’s most disturbing inequalities and injustices.
Most of what we do in community work has been caused by the poor distribution of resources—human, financial and physical.
The key to breaking this cycle of discrepancies lies in changing the mindset of our leaders.
We must highlight the need to be recognized and acknowledged by the privileged majority.
While working on projects in the community I have been challenged by realizing the pain, deep sorrow and suffering of many of our contemporaries, while at the same time understanding the value of preserving and showcasing the heart-wrenching mixture of pain and joy that was the quintessential force in the lives of our ancestors.
My hope is that future generations will be inspired by the perseverance of their forefathers.
Through sharing our stories, our community becomes more visible, understandable and acceptable to neighbouring cultural communities. Thank you to all the family, friends and community allies.
Originally from Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Nancy moved to Toronto then to Montreal to pursue a teaching career. Here she worked at FACE, the alternative fine arts school then in Inukjuak in northern Quebec and in far-off Bobonong, Botswana. She retired from Lac Rapide, an Algonquin community northeast of Montreal.
In retirement, Nancy volunteered at the NDG Black Community Association, the Black Studies Centre, the NCC Charles H. Este Cultural Centre and at Union United Church. She is also an occasional freelance contributor to Montreal Community Contact.
A memoir of her family’s story is expected to be published in the fall.