The 2017 Bikila Award Ceremony and Gala Dinner held on September 23rd was a Success
As planned the 2017 Bikila Award Celebration and Gala Dinner was held in Toronto, Canada on Saturday, September 23rd. This sold-out annual event was in its fourth year and has become as one of the most anticipated events in the African-Canadian community calendar, during which youth academic excellence and various professional achievements are recognized and celebrated.
As in the past year, the turnout was very impressive. The event program started with a cocktail, during this hour invited guests, honorees and community members interacted. Following an impressive introductory video, MC’s welcomed the guests. Bikila Award Board President, Mr. Tessema Mulugeta welcomed all present for this event and expressed the Board’s deep appreciation of the continuous support of the community members and that of the collaboration of the University of Toronto in establishing Ethiopian Studies which has already begun with the instruction of the Geez language in January of this year also highlighted the importance of this wonderful collaboration between the Ethiopian Community and the U of T this being the first of its kind in North America.
Keynote speaker, Mr. Ted Alemayehu, Founder and Executive Chairman of US Doctors for Africa (USDFA) and US Congress runner for the State of California presented an inspiring speech during which he gave an account of how he started USDFA Foundation as a young man in his twenties with no resources except his passion to do something to address the plight of people in Africa who have almost no access to health care compared to people in the US.
His passion, experience, and wisdom in mobilizing US Doctors to travel to African countries including Ethiopia to provide medical care were so galvanizing that his speech was interrupted several times by cheers from the audience.
Dinner was served and live music was provided by Barnes/Woldemichael EthioJazz Quartet.
Following dinner, Academic Excellence and Scholarship Award Ceremony were conducted.
This year’s winners were Wudassie Tamrat, Academic and Scholarship Winner: Yonas Negussie, Academic Excellence, and Scholarship Winner: Sara Edo, Academic Excellence Award Winner: Dagmawit Abraham, Academic Excellence Award Winner. These promising young Academic Excellence Award winners expressed their gratitude for the Awards and made short but impressive speeches appreciated by the audience.
He made a very profound speech about the famous Ethiopian 6th Century St. Yared’s music composition and conduction.
Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Artist, Laureate, Mulatu Astatkie received the Award in recognition of his contribution to the modernization, popularization, and development of Ethiopian Jazz music locally and internationally. He made a very profound speech about the famous Ethiopian 6th Century St. Yared’s music composition and conduction.
Finally, Dr. Mulatu Astatkie also thrilled the audience with a presentation of his latest composition of spiritual music creatively composed involving over 130 musicians along with their instruments. This experience was indeed captivating particularly to those members of the audience who are familiar with EOTC spiritual music including Mahlet and Woreb.
Professor Emeritus Edemariam Tsega was presented the Professional Excellence Award for his distinguished achievement as a compassionate and dedicated physician and for playing a leading role in advancing medical care and education in Ethiopia and Canada.
Similarly, Dr. Frances Lester was presented the Professional Excellence Award for her distinguished achievement as a compassionate and dedicated physician and provision of outstanding medical care for the Ethiopian people.
After the short coffee and dessert break, an impressive presentation was made by a Youth Music Group which captured the attention of the audience. This unique performance indeed would inspire the youth in general.
The Honorary Guest Speaker, Professor Suzanne C. Akbari, Director, Center for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto presented an instructive and forward-looking speech about the importance of establishing and strengthening Ethiopian Studies at the University of Toronto. She also expressed her appreciation of the enthusiasm of members of the Ethiopian Community in Toronto during the launching of the instruction of Geez language at U of ‘T. She also expressed her confidence that the collaboration between the Ethiopian Community in Toronto and the U of T will continue to the benefit of both.
Professional Excellence Award to Athlete Miruts Yifter (Posthumously) was presented to him for his distinguished and legendary achievement in long distance running and as a world-class double Olympic Winner Ethiopian hero. His son, Michael, accepted the Award and shared a memorable advice with the audience which he received from his father i.e. to love Ethiopia.
Dr. Enawgaw Mehari was presented the Community Service Excellence Award for his philanthropic contributions in founding p2p and as a dedicated practicing physician thus improving health care, reduce Aids and helping orphans in Ethiopia. His humorous speech captivated the audience as he emphasized the obligation of the present generation to give back to their country of origin, Ethiopia, as this generation is a beneficiary because it received free education from the country.
The last but not least of the Award Winner was Dr. Fitsum Tariku who was presented the Professional Excellence Award for his distinguished achievement as a scholar and researcher in whole building performance analysis.
After closing remarks were made by the able and talented MC’s, Mr. Elias Awake and Ms. Yamri Taddese thanking the audience for their participation, the event was successfully concluded.
The 2017 Bikila Award Ceremony and Gala Dinner was well attended and grasped the attention of the audience up to the end of the program. All participants expressed their appreciation of the event. Honorary guest speakers, as well as Award winners, were very much engaged in interacting with members of the community and with each other. There was an atmosphere of friendly fellowship as people chatted, took pictures and exchanged contact information.