Winnipeg’s Ethiopian community honoured with new achievement awards

25-year-old honouree says awards bring together community sometimes splintered by old political rifts

Faven Mergia received the “Strive for Excellence” award at the first annual Ethio-Canadian Charitable Promotional Awards on Saturday. (Facebook)

The Ethiopian community of Winnipeg came together this weekend to celebrate each other at the city’s first-ever Ethiopian achievement awards ceremony.

On Saturday, five members of Manitoba’s Ethiopian community were honoured at the Ethio-Canadian Charitable Promotional Awards.

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​For honouree Faven Mergia, the event was “the start of something new,” bringing together a community she said is sometimes divided by political rifts from Ethiopia.

“I think it’s a new chapter for our community, and I believe that events like this create that sense of united community where we can all come together, appreciate one another and really look forward to the future,” she said.

‘A responsibility to help out’

Mergia was the youngest award recipient at the ceremony, taking home the “Strive for Excellence” award. The 25-year-old works with youth through Peaceful Village, a program facilitated by the Manitoba School Improvement Program.

Born and raised in a refugee camp in Kenya, Mergia came to Winnipeg with her family as a refugee when she was 14. Since then, she’s only been to Ethiopia once, in 2011.

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But she says her strong cultural connection and pride in her roots made it easier for her to fit in, because she already knew who she was.

Now, she’s excited to give back to her community, in Winnipeg and in Ethiopia itself.

“Everyday I go to work and I’m inspired by youth that have overcome just incredible, incredible things,” she said.

“I continue to be inspired by that and I just — I feel like there’s so many different doors being opened and I’m just willing to take in the experience and be helpful as much as I can, but also to keep in mind that I still have a responsibility to help out in some way with what’s happening back home, and so whatever way I can be helpful I’m more than willing to contribute.”

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