If you dare to turn on the news these days, you may find it hard to refute we live in an age of increasing xenophobia, intolerance and nationalism. That’s because these stories usually dominate the airwaves and our social media feeds. This is why, it was a privilege to attend the Global Centre For Pluralism’s award ceremony earlier this month, where award winners from all corners of the world showed that pluralism—which is the concept of recognizing, valuing, respecting and celebrating our differences—is alive well.

The prestigious Global Pluralism Award recognizes individuals and organizations in all sectors working to promote diversity and inclusivity. The award is presented by the Global Centre of Pluralism, a not-for-profit institution headquartered in Ottawa, which was established through an endowment jointly created by the Government of Canada and His Highness the Aga Khan in 2007, with the Aga Khan acting as founder and Chairman of the Board of the Global Centre For Pluralism. The Centre’s aim is to advance respect for diversity and enable meaningful dialogue and research surrounding the benefits of pluralism.

The three award winners (who were picked by an award jury consisting of independent experts from around the world and a two-year nomination process) were chosen for their ability to respond creatively to the challenges of pluralism by changing the negative mindsets and narratives that often accompany diversity, as well as demonstrating how differences can be a major asset rather than a burden for communities. Through their sacrifice and hardships, each honoree was able to promote pluralism in truly revolutionary ways and ultimately set the precedence for the future of pluralism and its ability to transform communities into inclusive, diverse and peaceful societies.

The inaugural award ceremony featured the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverly McLachlin and The Aga Khan who recognized three champions of pluralism. The three winners included Leyner Palacios Asprilla, co-founder of the Committee for the Rights of Victims in Bojayá, Colombia; Alice Wairimu Nderitu for her work as a peacemaker with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights; and, Daniel Webb, an Australian human rights lawyer who coordinated the #LetThemStay campaign in 2016.  

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