North West Migrants Forum

Hundreds turn out to celebrate third Advancing Race Equality Awards

THE Director of the North West Migrants Forum has described the 2023 Advancing Race Equality Awards as one of the greatest nights in the organisation’s history.

Lilian Seenoi Barr was speaking after approximately 300 people gathered in the Everglades Hotel on Thursday evening (March 7) to celebrate the work of individuals and grassroots community groups working to tackle racism and break down barriers.

Nine trophies were given out on the night, including a new ‘Special Recognition Award’, created by the Migrants Forum. It went to Sarah Roberts, a Welsh schoolteacher living in Donegal who bravely challenged an anti-migrant campaigner who was filming on a street in Gaoth Dobhair. The clip of Sarah has amassed thousands of views on social media and has garnered her much praise for her courageous approach.

Teacher Sarah Roberts speaking after receiving a Special Recognition Award. All photos: Mark Hamill Photography.

BBC Spotlight NI was named Anti-Racism Media of the Year for its programme ‘The Rise of Race Hate’ and finally activist Hilda Orr was named Community Champion of the Year.

Special tribute was paid on the night to the late Eddie Kerr, campaigner, playwright and founder of the charity SEEDS, who passed away in October.

Eamonn McCann with Councillor Shaun Harkin standing alongside him.

Veteran civil rights activist Eamonn McCann also gave an impassioned oration on the state of the world today and the need for everyone to stand up against injustice wherever they find it.

This year’s Advancing Race Equality Awards were by far the biggest since the event was launched in 2021. Lilian Seenoi Barr said she was delighted at the number of people who turned out to make it an unforgettable evening.

“The mission of the North West Migrants Forum is clear and unwavering – champion racial justice and equity. We understand that achieving such a goal requires collective effort.

Members of the MSCNI team who travelled from Belfast. Their journey was worth their while as they collected the Advancing Racial Justice and Fairness Award.

“This principle is the foundation of our Advancing Race Equality Awards, designed to spotlight the remarkable contributions of individuals across Northern Ireland who are committed to fostering a shared and inclusive society.

“My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who contributed to making this event a success.

“Whether you nominated someone, served as a judge or attended the event, your involvement made the evening unforgettable and truly captured the essence of community and hope.

“I hope everyone who was there left the awards feeling inspired and recharged, ready to advance the cause of justice and equality.

Host Black Paddy in full flight. All photos: Mark Hamill Photography.

“And to all the winners, a massive congratulations to each of you. Each one of you truly deserved your recognition. I am in no doubt that you will keep shining and inspiring those around you with your remarkable contributions towards a more just and inclusive society.

“To our sponsors, thank you for your trust in us and for believing in the process. Your commitment equality within your own organisations is not just commendable but also crucial in driving forward our shared goals.

“Let us keep standing together, facing future challenges with resilience and determination. Together we are a journey to create a fairer, more equitable world.”

Five of the seven judges. From left: Duncan Morrow, Donna Namukasa, Eliza Browning, Beverly Simpson and Raymond Russell. Missing from photo: Ken Fraser and Hannah Davies.

Mrs Barr added that work has already begun on the next Advancing Race Equality Awards.

“The awards will be back next year and I would ask everyone to keep an eye on our website and social media platforms for details as we release them.”

At a glance…

Schools Anti-Racism Ambassadors: Strabane Academy

Anti-Racism School of the Year: North West Regional College

Anti-Racism Teacher of the Year: Edel Sweeney, Oakgrove PS

Community Champion: Hilda Orr

Advancing Racial Justice and Fairness: MSCNI

Anti-Racism Leader of the Year: Mukesh Chugh

Anti-Racism Media of the Year: BBC Spotlight NI

Young Leader Chaudhary Hamza Riaz, Ulster University

Special Recognition: Sarah Roberts