Fresh Voices is a group of young immigrants and refugees who work in their communities to ensure that their voices are heard on the issues that affect them. As an initiative, Fresh Voices works in partnership with the Vancouver Foundation, Michaëlle Jean Foundation, and Vancity Credit Union.
When her name was called, Eveyen Sobremisana was all smiles as she went up to the podium to get her Fresh Voices Award for the category of “Maintaining Cultural Roots”. The recognition came with a nicely-designed wooden plaque and a $1000 cash award. Eveyen, whose family comes from Mindanao, is a Grade 12 student at Killarney Secondary School in east Vancouver. The award recognized the young Sobremisana’s leadership in working “to maintain a connection to one’s cultural roots and homeland region while raising awareness through campaigns, fundraising and organizing in Canada.”
Sobremisana’s nomination blurb described her as someone who “believes that everybody’s story is worth sharing. Soon after arriving in Canada, she became involved in the Engaged Immigrant Youth Program, where she got connected to other young Filipino newcomers. As part of the program, she helped create “Fresh Start” magazine, which provides a space for Filipino newcomer youth to tell their stories. She is now a youth Ambassador for the Newcomer Orientation Welcome to BC.”
There were other awards given to six other newcomer youth, in British Columbia and across Canada, for several categories like Family and Intergenerational Relationships, Relationship with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, Leadership in Cross-Cultural Dialogue, Building Bridges and Solidarity and the Use of Arts to address issues of newcomer communities in Canada.
The panels outside of the Theatre displayed the photos of the nominees with the descriptions of their amazing work. Fresh Voices Youth Advisory Team member Yansie Ardon told the audience, “We had a lot of amazing nominations this year, and we wish we could pick them all!”
The young people in the Theatre that night highlighted the talent and skills that refugee and immigrant youth bring to their schools, communities, and they certainly made their families and communities very, very proud.
It is also noteworthy to mention two nominees who are members of Migrante BC: Visual artist Bert Monterona who was nominated for the Adult-Ally Award and youth leader Mae Lovely Ranges who was nominated for the National Artivism Award. Monterona is
a founding member of Migrante BC’s art collective and Lovely Ranges is a high student at Moscrop Secondary and a member of the newly-formed Migrante BC Youth.
By E. Maestro