Dom Bautista, 2020 Mitchell Award Laureate

Dom Bautista, a 2020 Community Awardee, was recognized for devoting his time and expertise to help individuals obtain access to the justice system in Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey. In 2010 Dom launched Amici Curiae Friendship Society (ACFS) to provide legal services to low-income women who would not otherwise receive help due to language or financial barriers. A role model in his community, Dom leads a formidable team of paralegals, lawyers, law students and others, all working on a pro bono basis to deliver access to justice throughout BC communities. 

His unique contributions were further recognized by the Board of BC Achievement which honoured him with the 2020 Mitchell Award of Distinction. It is the fourth annual presentation of the Award which recognizes an individual who, through his or her work and volunteer activities, demonstrates a selfless style empowering others to lead. 

In this role, Dom shared his thoughts on behalf of all the 2020 recipients: 

Having been trained by the Jesuits makes it difficult for me to be in the limelight. It is quite humbling of course to be recognized and so, in accepting the Mitchell Award, I do so on behalf of all British Columbians, especially the underprivileged, underserved and unrepresented in our legal system. It is my hope that the Mitchell Award will shine the light on them.  

I am accepting this recognition on behalf of Amici Curiae Friendship Society. Amici Curiae is Italian for ‘friends of the court’. ACFS’s services are provided on the principle of equal access to justice in response to the challenges that British Columbians face to access legal services.  

Since its inception in 2010, ACFS has been providing equal access to justice by helping individuals fill out their legal forms. This means going beyond the application of a simple financial eligibility test. Equal access to justice includes an assessment of an individual’s capacity to navigate what has become a complex and inaccessible legal system for many British Columbians. And this principle of equal access to justice has become even more relevant as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It is important for Amici Curiae volunteers to strive to work with BC’s Indigenous peoples, and the many challenging legal issues they face. It is Amici Curiae’s way of reconciling Canada’s past with its future. To that end, Amici Curiae will continue to help in whatever ways we can. I hope that we can each contribute toward reconciliation with BC’s Indigenous peoples. 

Being home more these days has provided me with time to reflect. My love affair with Canada began in 1975 when my father invited me to remain in Vancouver to study. My father did his fair share of volunteering, the Mitchell Award is as much his as it is mine. Volunteerism is a layered legacy that runs deep in the Bautista family, it is a most treasured gift that we pass on to the future…to our children, and soon, to our first grandchild, Baby Aroo and future Bautistas.

On behalf of the awardees, I hope we each find inspiration in the work that we can do to make British Columbia a better place for future generations. Giving back, no matter how big or how small, will and can make a profound difference to someone. 

#Nominatenowbc 

The 2021 Community Award is accepting nominations until January 31st. Nominate a deserving individual and help elevate excellence, share success and inspire change. 

Guest Blog: Anne Giardini OC, OBC, QC
Chair, BC Achievement Board

An executive, director and writer, Anne Giardini serves or has served on several boards including CMHC, TransLink, HydroOne, WWF-Canada and Pembina Institute among others. She is the author of two novels and co-editor of a collection of writing advice. Anne has been Chair of the Vancouver Writers Festival, a board member of the Writers Trust of Canada and is a past Chancellor of Simon Fraser University. In 2009, she was appointed Queen’s Council and received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013. Anne was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada for her contributions to the forestry sector, higher education and the literary community in 2016 and appointed to the Order of British Columbia in 2018.

This past year, I have spent countless hours walking, masked, with podcasts as company, a way to sustain health and sanity during some challenging months. Two podcasts struck me as relevant to what we do at BC Achievement, where I serve as board chair. 

One was a personal advice show. The advice-seeker was in middle age, in good health, with a job they liked, a partner and children they adored, and no unusual worries or stresses. Why, they asked, why does it feel as though something is missing from my life?  

The host suggested rest, a better diet, exercise, mindfulness, and practising gratitude. All sound counsel, as far is it goes. But I found myself wishing that the host would urge the writer to find something they loved outside of work and family and devote time to doing it. Make art. Learn Arabic. Take up an instrument and form a community orchestra. Build houses for homeless families. Teach a skill at a community centre. The possibilities are endless. We can’t tell others what they should do to make their lives richer, but we can recommend that they find something that feeds them and commit time to it. 

The second podcast was an episode of “99% Invisible” about graffiti. I confess I’ve never been a fan of graffiti. I have seldom found it beautiful or even interesting and I have wondered at what leads people to tag public property, to compel passersby to see the tagger’s name, initials, symbol or statement. 

It turns out that being seen is, at least in part, at the heart of tagging.   

A graffiti artist who had been compelled to stop tagging said this to an interviewer:  “I left the world where I was completely seen, only to re-enter a world where being seen wasn’t guaranteed.” Another speaker said this: “People see walls with graffiti on them and think that the people responsible for the tags are criminal, but it’s hard to know that there’s a whole life behind the spray paint that emerges on the wall. […]? Each piece of graffiti is a window into someone’s life.” 

I was struck by the wisdom of these views and saw some parallels between this form of public art or messaging and what we do at BC Achievement.  When we celebrate and steward outstanding British Columbians and elevate their stories, we help to ensure that we truly see the enormous range of potential and achievements all around us. 

It turns out that many of the activities that help us to live engaged and satisfied lives also improve our communities. BC Achievement’s purpose is to recognize and honour those whose passions and actions make our province better. We recognize, celebrate and connect outstanding British Columbians. We elevate their stories of excellence, stories that inspire others.  

You know people like this. Remarkable people who improve our world. This is the time to nominate them for recognition. This is the time to ensure they are truly seen. 

Nominations for the 2021 Community Award are open for nominations until January 31st. #nominatenowbc 

Lifting our communities up:
The British Columbia Reconciliation Award

Q & A with Sophie Pierre, OC, OBC  

Director, BC Achievement Board and BC Reconciliation Award Organizing Committee Member  

Sophie Pierre is an Indigenous leader and served as Chief of ʔAq̓am near Cranbrook for 26 years. She was the Chief Commissioner for the British Columbia Treaty Commission (2009 – 2015) and was instrumental in the formation of the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council in the 1970s and subsequently, served as the administrator for 25 years. Sophie was awarded the 2003 National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Business, which recognized her strong commitment to the economic development of her community. In 2016, she was appointed to the Order of Canada and was named to the Order of British Columbia in 1994. She has received Honorary Doctorates of Law from the University of Canada West, the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. In 2013, Sophie was awarded the BC Aboriginal Business Individual Achievement Award. 

Why is now the time for the British Columbia Reconciliation Award? 

The answer to ‘why now?’ is ‘if not now, then when?’. I firmly believe that when things happen, they happen for a reason – there is a greater plan in place. This type of initiative is happening now when it is most meaningful for all the citizens of British Columbia and when it can have the greatest impact. Now is the time!

What is the significance of the partnership between the award program’s presenting organizations: The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of BC and BC Achievement? 

Recognition based on achievement and good work reflects positive progression. With the Lieutenant Governor representing the Crown in our province, Her Honour’s role in the partnership signals that this program is more than just an award – it goes to the underlying question about the history of the Crown in Canada and specifically in our province. It continues the journey of truth and reconciliation for all citizens of the province. BC Achievement’s mission to elevate excellence and inspire achievement makes it the perfect partner to support the delivery and impact of the BC Reconciliation Award program. 

You’ve stated that the mission of BC Achievement is to elevate excellence and inspire achievement – can you explain a bit further how this applies to the BC Reconciliation Award?

BC Achievement uses recognition as a tool to shine the light on excellence and inspire others to do the same. Communities need to look at their actions and showcase their reconciliation practices. It’s almost like a peer review when communities look within and then lift each other up. There are several representations of reconciliation and the models are out there. Recognizing those who rise to the top will allow others to learn from each other and adopt each other’s best practices. We tend to shy away from recognition, but it is so important as communities learn and see the benefits that come from the good work within their own communities. 

What is the anticipated impact of the program? – How do you see the Honourable Steven Point’s vision actualized through the program? 

As I mentioned in the previous question, communities can learn from each other – all BC citizens can learn from each other. The lessons of reconciliation are there within our own backyard and, as His Honour reminded us, “we need to create a better understanding amongst all people that we are in the same canoe. No matter where you are from, we all need to paddle together.” I feel that the impact will develop organically and have a natural spin off from the recognition process– there will be a life to it. As we learn of all the reconciliation activities taking place and all the possibilities to further the journey – we have the opportunity to make the Honourable Steven Point’s dream a reality. 

What’s your message to British Columbians as to why they should nominate someone for a BC Reconciliation Award? 

First of all, I cannot say enough about how grateful I am to those who do nominate – for all BC Achievement’s programs. And I thank them. We need these champions who take the time to tell these stories of excellence and nominate worthy individuals and organizations for the BC Reconciliation Award. I also think that all British Columbians are pretty damn special – and need to be recognized! It is one of the hardest things to acknowledge when you’ve accomplished something notable, yet it is so important. We need to collectively blow our horns to lift up our communities. The momentum created will then take on a life of its own! #nominatenowbc 

Thank you, Sophie!  

For more information on the British Columbia Reconciliation Award, or to nominate, you can go to bcachievement.com. Nomination deadline is January 15th, 2021. 

Coming together: The British Columbia Reconciliation Award

BC Achievement runs a number of  programs which celebrate excellence to inspire achievement and the most recent addition to its roster is a partnership program. The British Columbia Reconciliation Award is a partnership between BC Achievement and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of BC. Why a partnership? 

The Honourable Janet Austin, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, shared that there are several reasons for this important partnership with BC Achievement to honour and further reconciliation. “The Honourable Stephen Point had originally come up with the idea during his term as Lieutenant Governor but wasn’t able to execute within the short period of time. I certainly had discussions with him about reviving it and we felt it was important to reach out to a partner organization that had considerable experience managing significant awards like this and that also shared the same values and really the same desire to advance reconciliation.” 

In the words of Kekinsuqs Judith Sayers, President of the Nuu chah Nulth Tribal Council and Board member of the BC Achievement Foundation, there is a connection between the two organizations that lends itself to a partnership program. “It is something we wanted to do, and we do have several First Nations people on the board and several awards dealing with First Nations people in business and in art…so it just seemed like a natural fit for the Lieutenant Governor and the BC Achievement Foundation to come together to put this award together, so it was just something exciting, and something that needed to be done.” 

A partnership program is a valuable way to recognize individuals, groups and organizations who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, integrity, respect and commitment to furthering reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the province. Not only does this partnership allow greater reach of the program’s mandate, but it also brings awareness to a larger audience, and it helps build a bridge between Indigenous peoples and British Columbia’s history, a move itself that symbolizes a commitment to reconciliation: 

“We need to create a better understanding amongst all people that we are in the same canoe. No matter where you are from, we all need to paddle together.”  The Honourable Steven L. Point, OBC (Xwĕ lī qwĕl tĕl) 28th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia (2007-2012) 

For more information on the British Columbia Reconciliation Award, or to nominate you can go to bcachievement.com. Nomination deadline is January 15th, 2021.