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Annual Diversity Awards Gala

Partner of the Year

Presented to a business or organization that has partnered with the Saskatoon Open Door Society to promote and implement COVID-19 response initiatives.

Winner: University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry

Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry partnered with the Saskatoon Open Door Society for the Face Mask Project, an initiative spearheaded by newcomer women at the Women’s Business Hub. Their goal was to create and distribute 10,000 hand-sewn cloth face masks to grassroots community organizations and vulnerable populations. For the project, the College of Dentistry contributed use of their industrial sterilization equipment, 10,000 sterilizer bags, and staff time to sterilize thousands of individually packaged, hand-sewn cloth face masks for safe distribution throughout the community of Saskatoon. Dr. Douglas Brothwell, Dean and Professor at the College of Dentistry, also acted as the Principal Investigator on a USask team that obtained financial support for the project from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.

Pandemic Response - Individual

Presented to an individual who has helped recent newcomer employees adapt to their workplace during the pandemic.

Winner: Emily Martell

In her role as Assistant Manager of Human Resource Services at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools, Emily Martell leads the implementation of the school division’s diversity and inclusion strategy, demonstrating a personal commitment to removing barriers, providing equitable opportunities, and ensuring full representation and participation within the division’s workforce. Emily has represented Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools at the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Virtual Job Fairs and Employer Showcase webinars, where she was able to connect with and hire 15 newcomers this school year. She strives to be available to support staff as needed, which includes acting as a reference, resolving technical concerns, reviewing application documents, and more. Through these efforts, Emily hopes to ensure that every employee who joins Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools feels welcome and supported, especially during this challenging time.

Pandemic Response - Enterprise

Presented to a business or organization that has helped recent newcomer employees adapt to their workplace during the pandemic.

Winner: Walmart Canada

Walmart Canada is a proud employer of newcomers to Canada and has made significant efforts to support and assist their newcomer staff members as they work through the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt to new social environments and policies. Throughout the pandemic this support has taken many forms, such as allowing for leaves of absence, flexible shifts for employees with children at home, and Hero Pay or financial bonuses for staff members. In addition, store management has offered extra support, including individual attention, to newcomer staff who may be struggling with language difficulties or new policies. By ensuring that new and vulnerable members of society have access to resources that allow them to understand the pandemic and protect themselves and their families, Walmart Canada increases general awareness of COVID-19 and prevention measures in newcomer and immigrant communities.

Essential Worker Champion - Large Enterprise

Presented to a business or organization that has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a safe working environment and addressing the needs of essential front-line workers who run a higher risk in doing their job.

Winner: Loraas Disposal North Ltd.

Loraas Disposal North Ltd. offers waste and recycling collection within the City of Saskatoon. Throughout the pandemic Loraas has helped to create a safe and supportive environment for their essential workers by implementing mandatory masking policies in advance of provincial regulations, arranging workspaces for social distancing, and allowing employees to work from home whenever necessary. Information and assistance on various evolving government programs are provided to employees as well as to their friends and families. The HR and Safety teams are on hand to help with CERB, EI, and company benefits, follow-ups with absent employees, and general inquiries. Their internal Employee and Family Assistance Program helps all employees to manage increased stress and other mental health concerns. When it is safe to do so, Loraas and their internal Social Committee also present employee appreciation gifts and social activities. As the pandemic wears on, Loraas continues to research methods and strategies for supporting staff so that they can feel safe while performing their duties as essential workers.

Essential Worker Champion - Small Enterprise

Presented to a business or organization that has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a safe working environment and addressing the needs of essential front-line workers who run a higher risk in doing their job.

Winner: Warm 'n' Cozy Personal Care Homes

Warm 'n' Cozy Personal Care Homes has been in the business of kindness for over 10 years. Their energetic team is comprised of over 50 members, consisting of a diverse group of individuals with families of their own. These caretakers are enthusiastic as they ensure the wellbeing of over 70 senior residents. Throughout the pandemic, Warm ‘n’ Cozy Personal Care Homes has made the safety and well-being of essential worker staff and residents its top priority. Maintaining their staff’s physical and mental health is the first step in making sure their residents are safe and healthy. Daily pre-screening is mandatory, and on-call employees are available 24/7. This pandemic gave them the opportunity to deepen their trust and commitment with their essential employees. They are thankful to their staff that go above and beyond the call of duty to care for their elderly residents.

Newcomer Entrepreneur

Presented to a newcomer entrepreneur who started business two years ago or less and who has needed to make major adjustments to their business during Covid-19.

Winner: LAVVA Kitchen + Bar

LAVVA Kitchen + Bar opened in November of 2019, offering upscale casual dining that features contemporary food and drinks. During their first year in business, provincial restrictions and lock-downs made it difficult for many restaurants to stay profitable. Determined to see their business succeed, LAVVA Kitchen + Bar hired a marketing team to help promote them online. They also reached out to Saskatoon suppliers to buy locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and support other local businesses. By utilizing food delivery services such as Skip the Dishes, and by offering daily, weekend, and holiday specials for take-out and pick-up, they were able to broaden their services to the community. Due to their hard work and dedication, they continue to serve quality food to Saskatoon residents at affordable prices during this challenging time.

Community Hero Recognition

Presented to five individuals who have gone above and beyond to support their communities during the pandemic.

Asit Sarkar
Asit Sarkar has promoted diversity and inclusion in the Saskatoon community in numerous ways. He set up a fund at the Saskatoon Community Foundation to support inclusiveness in all aspects of Saskatoon‘s community engagement, and as a member of the Saskatoon Immigration Partnership Council he integrated those principles into the Saskatoon Partnership’s Strategic Plan. From his seat on the Advisory Board for the the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Women’s Business Hub, he has developed new community connections for the WBH, and with the onset of COVID-19 he was instrumental in mounting its Face Mask Project. As a Nutana Rotary member, he worked with the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre to facilitate engagement of Newcomer youth with their peers in the Indigenous community, an effort extended with the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s BRIDGES Program to include Indigenous, Newcomer and ethnocultural youth.

Delano Kennedy
Delano Kennedy leads the Okihtcitawak Patrol Group, a group of Indigenous volunteers who patrol the Pleasant Hill and Riversdale neighborhoods of Saskatoon and hand out donated food, water, and winter clothing, pick up discarded needles, report suspicious activity and vehicles, and connect those in need of assistance with resources and services. Under Delano’s leadership, the patrol group strives to do its part in protecting the most vulnerable, building productive relationships, and making a positive impact with its work in the community.

Phuong Uyen Huynh
Uyen (Winn) began her mask-making journey in March 2020 when the pandemic was first taking hold by sewing cloth masks for her friends and family. Then, with her mother, she began sewing additional masks for frontline service workers, such as transit operators and grocery store staff, as well as vulnerable populations in Saskatoon. The team grew and eventually expanded to providing masks for various not-for-profits, shelters, and communities in need. To date, Uyen (Winn) and her small group of volunteers have sewn over 8,000 cloth face masks and distributed them across Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Ontario, and she has worked with volunteers in her home country of Vietnam to distribute masks there, as well. Through her efforts, Uyen demonstrates a powerful personal commitment to helping the community cope with COVID-19.

Sarah Cochran Smokeyday
Sarah Cochran Smokeyday is the Chair of the Board for the Saskatoon Mother’s Centre, an organization dedicated to empowering socially isolated at-risk mothers from low-income backgrounds. The pandemic and the loss of a meeting space encouraged Sarah to envision new ways to fundraise and to help vulnerable new mothers. She has acted as the main contact for emergency calls from women in need of assistance, and has selflessly provided support, guidance, and safety in times of crisis. Her own home has become a hub for the distribution of much-needed items such as diapers and sanitary napkins for new mothers. Her strong affiliations with the Saskatchewan Tribal Council have been a valuable asset in building new networking and support strategies, and through hosting Thursday night “Craft and Chat” sessions with mothers over Zoom she offers support and encouragement in a virtual environment. Sarah demonstrates devotion, commitment, and compassion for both Indigenous and Newcomer mothers.

Zainab Al-Musawi
Zainab is Team Leader of the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Resettlement Assistance Program, which helps Government-Assisted Refugees who are newly arrived in Saskatoon by providing them with essential initial settlement and support services. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Zainab and her staff, the program has been able to adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic. The team continues to welcome refugees arriving at the Saskatoon airport, provide orientation and interpretation services to help newcomers understand provincial pandemic restrictions, and find temporary accommodations for the 14-day isolation period, all while ensuring that pandemic safety protocols are rigorously observed.