Record Turnout at 13th Annual Diversity Thunder Bay Breakfast

Community Submission

Tanya Talaga is the 2018 RBC Taylor Award winning author - Photo STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR
Tanya Talaga is the 2018 RBC Taylor Award winning author - Photo STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR

THUNDER BAY – Diversity Thunder Bay’s 13th annual Diversity Celebration Breakfast was held this morning at the Victoria Inn. The breakfast was a sold-out event, with more than 530 people in attendance.

They turned out in record numbers to hear keynote presenter, Tanya Talaga and to see work for diversity recognized through the presentation of the City’s respect award.

Tanya Talaga, the acclaimed author of Seven Fallen Feathers, will be this year’s keynote presenter at the breakfast, scheduled for March 21 at the Victoria Inn.  Seven Fallen Feathers was the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and the First Nation Communities Read Award: Young Adult/Adult; a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction; CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Year, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and is a national bestseller.

Talaga was the 2017–2018 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, the 2018 CBC Massey Lecturer, and is the author of the national bestseller All Our Relations: Finding The Path Forward. For more than 20 years, she has been a journalist at the Toronto Star and is now a columnist at the newspaper. She has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism.

Talaga said that now it is time to come together to find a new path towards understanding so that all who call Thunder Bay home feel as though they belong.

“We are all responsible for our past, and therefore, we can all have a hand in prevention, and a new way forward”, says Talaga.

Her keynote speech touched on how the community did not look after its children, and thereby allowed them to be lost, the positive changes have already taken place in Thunder Bay to better support children, what more could be done by the community to make it safer and what more each community member can do, to support a safer, more welcoming community.

Organizing committee co-chair Lisa Beckwick said that the turnout as well as Talaga’s presentation were inspirational.

“Ms. Talaga shared many examples of addressing racism that are already taking place in our City and encouraged us to lead the country by example by facing our challenges head on”, she said.

Walid Chahal presents Robin Cooper the respect.Award
Walid Chahal presents Robin Cooper the respect.Award

Robin Cooper Recognized for respect.Award

Robin Cooper, a tireless volunteer with the Shelter House and other community organizations, today took home the 2019 respect.Award at Diversity Thunder Bay’s 13th Annual Celebration Breakfast for the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The annual award recognizes an individual, business or organization that promotes the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of respect through leadership and fostering positive relationships with others.

“While it was a tough decision narrowing the choices down to one winner from so many worthy individuals nominated in the community, ultimately Robin Cooper stood out as deserving of the award for her exemplary leadership skills and ability to foster respect among a diverse group of people,” said Tina Tucker, Chair of the respect. Working Group.

As a regular volunteer with the Shelter House, Robin leads a biweekly group of dinner service volunteers, as well as assists all who come through the doors with an open mind and empathetic heart. She does not discriminate, as she recognizes we are all part of a community, and in order to thrive, we must help each other.

Robin has recruited dozens of new individual volunteers, as well as several groups for the Shelter House. She never backs down from a challenge and is always looking for ways to improve on services offered to the community. In addition to her time at the Shelter House, she has also dedicated countless hours to the Red Rock Folk Festival, Thunder Pride, the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, and she recently took a lead role in organizing and planning for Empty Bowls, Caring Hearts. While this may seem like more than one person can manage, Robin also organizes “New Home Kits” that consist of gently used houseware items, which she distributes to people newly set up in housing.

“Robin truly exemplifies all the qualities of a respect. Champion in our community,” said Lee-Ann Chevrette, Coordinator, Crime Prevention Council. “She leads with an open heart and gently empowers people she works with to join her efforts to support one another.”

respect. is an Initiative of the City of Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism & Respect Advisory Committee and the Crime Prevention Council, and the respect. Award is sponsored by Diversity Thunder Bay. Currently, there are almost 80 organizations that have committed to respect. Other organizations in the community are invited to sign up as well and help the respect. list reach 100! For more information, visit:

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