Waterloo student receives the Lincoln M. Alexander award

Mridu Walia - Mechanical Engineering
Posted on: February 3, 2019

Fiqir Worku, 22, along with two other society leaders, was recently awarded the Lincoln M. Alexander award by the government of Ontario for her work in establishing Racial Advocacy for Inclusion, Solidarity and Equity (RAISE). She demonstrated exemplary leadership skills in her effort to end racial discrimination by promoting inclusivity and equality in society.

The ceremony was held at Queen’s Park in Toronto on January 21st. The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario presented the awards alongside Vincent Ke, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Dowdeswell said, “The Lincoln Alexander Award recognizes exceptional individuals who have taken it upon themselves to challenge systemic discrimination, acting in substantive and distinctive ways to fight racism. I am delighted to celebrate this year’s recipients as they continue the legacy of a trailblazer whose impact we mark every year on January 21.”

The Lincoln M. Alexander Award was created in 1993 in the name of the Honourable Lincoln Alexander, the first Black Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the first Black Member of Parliament, and the first Black federal Cabinet Minister. January 21st, which is the day of his birth in 1922, is recognized as Lincoln Alexander day in Canada to commemorate his legacy and recognize his contributions. According to Ontario Honours and Awards, it is presented each year to three people who have demonstrated excellent leadership skills in eliminating racial discrimination and towards promoting a positive change in society: two Student Awards and one Community Award.

RAISE, the thirteenth FedS student-run club, was officially initiated this Winter 2019 and has been in the works for about a year. Its objective is to address issues such as xenophobia and racism occurring on campus. “It’s essentially a space for peer support. We have hours every single day for people to drop by if they have any concerns or just a space to talk in a non-judgmental way,” said Worku. Reportedly, a formal incident reporting system is in progress which would allow students to lodge official complaints or concerns that would be kept in records. The RAISE team includes 6 executives and 2 co-coordinators and Fiqir disclosed that the volunteering response they have received from students so far is pretty good.

FedS voted in favour of a 20-cent increase in the student fees last March as a way to fund the club. However, the new policy that made student fees optional raised concerns about the budget. Worku expressed concerns about the funding because they currently “don’t have any other partnerships or sponsors”.

According to Ontario News, the other two awards were received by Manaal Chasso, 18, of Ottawa and Lisa Wang, 18, of North York for running anti-racism campaigns and establishing the Social Justice and Equity Committees at their respective high schools.

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