Baljit Sethi received the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism.
She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Immigrant and Multicultural Services of Prince George which provides settlement services to communities in Northern British Columbia.
Previously, she was a family counsellor with the Immigrant Services Society of BC and a teacher.
Active in the community, she has served as a member on the Mayor’s Special Committee on Seniors; President and member of the Learning Disability Association; a member of the Premier’s Committee on Living and Working in BC; member of the Visible Minority Labour Board provincially and federally; and a member of the Western Canada Settlement Agency Association.
Sethi holds a Bachelor degree in Education, a Masters in Punjabi, and a Masters in Arts and Civilization; a Certificate in Guidance and Counselling from Delhi University, and a Certificate in Family Counselling from Vancouver Community College.
She also holds certificates in Management of Non-Profit and Diversity Training from Simon Fraser University.
Sethi was born in India in 1933 and worked as a counsellor at a community college in Punjab before coming to Canada in 1972.
In 1974, she began working with the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia as a family counsellor and then as a settlement counsellor, assisting newcomers to Canada with settlement services.
In 1976, she founded the Immigrant Services Society of Prince George, now known as the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society (IMSS).
Through her work with the IMSS, she soon realized that the integration of newcomers into the community could not be achieved without multicultural programs and the promotion of racial harmony. She encouraged the interaction of immigrants with the host community and was instrumental in promoting multiculturalism in Prince George, thereby benefiting the entire northern British Columbia region.
Scores of multicultural and anti-racism projects designed by Sethi, and delivered under her guidance, are still being delivered today.
Through almost 40 years of dedicated service to the integration of newcomers and the promotion of multiculturalism, Baljit Sethi has changed the community’s outlook.
An artist in her own right (author, painter and performing artist since before leaving India), she is an activist and an advocate for immigrant women and has become a source of inspiration to the community at large.
She is the recipient of the BC Community Achievement Award and the Governor General’s Award to mark the 125th anniversary of the confederation of Canada.
The annual Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism pays tribute to people in Canada who have contributed to multiculturalism and the integration of new Canadians. It commemorates the legacy of the late Senator Paul Yuzyk, who worked to establish multiculturalism as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian identity.
“Canada’s future depends upon our communities working together,” said Jason Kenney.
“That is why we celebrate individuals who promote our shared Canadian values of acceptance, pluralism, and peaceful relations between communities in Canada. In taking on such leadership, these individuals help to foster an integrated, socially cohesive, and peaceful population in Canada. I encourage Canadians to support this award and nominate a friend, colleague or volunteer worker who makes outstanding efforts to build a stronger country.”
While a single winner of the award is chosen each year, their selection is from one of two categories: Outstanding Achievement or Lifetime Achievement.
The Outstanding Achievement Award recognizes an individual or group who has recently made a significant contribution to promote and embrace Canada’s rich history and shared values, held by all communities in Canada. The Lifetime Achievement Award honours an individual who has demonstrated ongoing dedication to promoting a strong, peaceful and united Canada over a period of at least ten years.
The award winner receives a certificate of honour signed by the Minister as well as the right to select an eligible, registered, not for profit Canadian organization to receive a $20,000 grant from the Government of Canada.
Baljit Sethi (below), who received the award this past year, recently selected the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George to receive this $20,000 grant.
• Nominations for the 2012 Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism must be postmarked by March 1, 2012. More information at www.cic.gc.ca/paulyuzyk.
Posted: Jan 3, 2012