Live from the Water Foot Hotel on Thursday 22nd September, audiences witnessed the countries 2022 winners being named the best of Northern Irish Racial Equality Champions at the prestigious 2nd Annual Advancing Race Equality Awards. Attended by over 270 people, the awards ceremony celebrated the range of individuals and groups from across the community working to promote a shared and inclusive Northern Ireland.
The extraordinary event – hosted by award winning writers and activists Chantelle Lunt and Tim Brannigan – was a true celebration of diversity. The ceremony featured music, poetry and artwork from across the community and demonstrated a positive vision of an inclusive society in keeping with Community Good Relations week.
The awards were based on nominations from the public. Over 350 nominations were received for 15 different categories including Anti-Racism Leadership and Lifetime Achievement. From education to media, from community work to sport, the nominations showcased achievements by people from all walks of life in advancing race equality. In addition, anti-bullying artwork awards showcased the talents and creativity of young people across Northern Ireland. Nominations were assessed by a distinguished panel of judges that included activists, academics, researchers, civil servants, and community workers.
Shortlisted nominees and winners were showcased in specially made videos and announced to a packed room of supporters and friends. Winners included the Multi-Ethnic Sports and Culture NI for the Advancing Racial Justice and Fairness Award; NIHE community relations officer, Eddie Breslin for Anti-Racism Community Champion of the Year; and Senior BBC broadcast Journalist Elaine McGee who won the Anti-Racism media award. Mallusk Integrated Primary School won the Anti-Racism School of the Year Award for the primary category and Strabane Academy winning in the secondary school category.
The prestigious lifetime achievement award was won by Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Vellem the ground-breaking activist for refugee rights. The judging panel noted his dedication, integrity, and love for his family. Accepting the posthumous award on his behalf, Ronnie’s wife Lilian Vellem highlighted his contribution to equality and his commitment in advancing a shared and inclusive society in Northern Ireland.
Award sponsors included Unison, Ulster University, Phoenix Law, PDQ Solutions, EasyLet’s and the Northern Ireland Executive Office. Presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award, Patricia McIntyre, Head of the TEO Racial Equality Division noted that while the event this evening was a wonderful celebration, there was still much to achieve to implement the racial equality strategy.
“Tonight, we celebrate our young leaders and lifelong advocates – true leaders for the cause of Racial Equality. It is important that we in government recognise that whilst we push forward with the development and implementation of policies, that ultimately, we are all working towards the same shared outcome of improving and changing individual lives.”
The Deputy Mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council, Angela Dobbins also spoke about
“The Advancing Race Equality Awards provides us with an opportunity to shine a light on those who have strived to highlight the need for racial equality among the many cultures and communities that are represented in our City and District and further afield. Derry City and Strabane District Council is committed to racial equality. This was illustrated recently by the unanimous passing of a motion on racial injustice. The Council also has a longstanding relationship with the North West Migrant Forum and supports this and all organizations whose purpose is to further multi-culturalism, integration, and cohesion in the whole Council area.”
The Advancing Race Equality Awards were organized by the North West Migrants Forum. Founder and Director of Programmes Lilian Seenoi Barr hoped that the extraordinarily positive response to the 2022 awards would motivate other individuals and groups across the community to get involved and challenge racism in all walks of life.
“Tackling racism is more critical than ever as our society becomes more diverse. The 2021 Census results released today have shown at least, a four times increase in the number of Black and
minoritized people living in Northern Ireland. 1 in 15 PEOPLE ARE BORN OUTSIDE NORTHERN IRELAND With 3.4% of the population NOW being from a minority background. The Advancing Race Equality Awards provides us with a rare opportunity to come together as minoritized people and show our appreciation of all those honored here tonight, who have done so much to advance racial equality in Northern Ireland.”
The launch of the 2023 Advancing Race Equality Awards is expected in January. For a list of all 2022 award winners click on this link.
To watch the 2022 Advancing Race Equality Awards Ceremony Live Stream