Alberta’s Newcomer Awards Recognize Harriet Tinka, Gideon Christian, Clement Esene, and More [ Photos]
The Government of Alberta proudly celebrates several remarkable individuals recognized for their outstanding contributions to society. On October 12th, 2023, a total of 31 individuals, born outside of Canada and having immigrated to Alberta, were honored with the Alberta Newcomer Recognition Awards. These exceptional individuals, now integral parts of Alberta, have played pivotal roles in enriching communities and fostering inclusivity in the province.
During the 2023 Alberta Newcomer Recognition Award ceremony, 8 remarkable individuals of African descent were honored, embodying excellence across various categories. Here they are:
Category: Career and Academics Contribution Award
- Gideon Christian: A lawyer and law professor at the University of Calgary, Gideon created eLitigation, an innovative course aiding law students in conducting virtual litigation—an idea born from courthouse closures during the pandemic and the first of its kind in any Canadian law school.
- Kene Ilochonwu: Exemplifying leadership and positive change in the legal profession, Kene became the first Black Bencher in Alberta Law Society’s 113-year history and the youngest Alberta-called lawyer elected to the Bencher Table. He is also a dedicated volunteer and advocate for diversity.
Category: Entrepreneurial Spirit Award
- Harriet Tinka: Through her ‘EmpoweredMe School Program,’ Harriet empowers Alberta’s youth by bridging the gap between schools and communities, equipping them with essential life skills, building self-esteem, and helping them navigate life’s challenges.
- Popoola Akande: A banking and finance entrepreneur and consultant advocating for entrepreneurial development and newcomer integration, Popoola was nominated for Canada’s Volunteer Awards in the Business Leader category.
Category: Inclusive Workplaces Award
- Charles Osuji: A lawyer and CEO of Calgary’s Osuji & Smith law firm, Charles also founded the Foot-in-the-Door initiative, supporting and mentoring young law students, especially those from international and Black communities.
- Robert Suraki Watum: As a project coordinator at the Alliance Jeunesse-Famille de l’Alberta Society, Robert coordinates integration programs like ‘Fiesta Musica,’ uniting musicians from various communities to co-create new music.
Category: Small Community Enhancement Award
- Clement Esene: Creating a program to assist underrepresented and newcomer entrepreneurs, Clement founded the BIPOC Foundation, fostering entrepreneurship opportunities for diverse communities and promoting economic empowerment and financial inclusion.
- Mustafa Abdiaziz Osman: Recognized for his strong work ethic and leadership, Mustafa volunteers with the Edmonton Police Service and his community. He aspires to join the Canadian Armed Forces and pursue a career as a police officer.
Premier Danielle Smith acknowledged the immense contributions of these trailblazers, emphasizing Alberta’s growth fueled by innovators, entrepreneurs, and community builders. “Congratulations to each awardee for sharing their passion, skills, and talents, thereby enhancing our province and strengthening their respective communities,” commended Premier Smith.
The nominees were evaluated based on their overall contributions, addressing societal needs, showcasing leadership, and their status as permanent residents or citizens of Canada since moving to Alberta.
Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Muhammad Yaseen conveyed his sincere congratulations to all award recipients, acknowledging their positive impact on communities while adapting to the challenges of a new country and language. “These individuals, whether in Alberta for many years or just a few, have made valuable contributions, and we thank them for that,” said Yaseen.
For a complete list of Alberta Newcomer Recognition Award recipients, visit the Government of Alberta website.