The Luminary Awards
After the engaging conversation with DFL scholars, the gala dinner was treated to an exclusive performance from Forte Band, which featured Nour Khedder on the vocals, Edward Tarzi on the guitar, violinist Amir Khoury and pianist-accordionist, Johnny Bahri. Their soulful music set the tone for the path-breaking stories of courage and kindness that were going to be highlighted as part of the Luminary Awards presentation.
The Courage and Inspiration Luminary Award – Mindy Corporon, President and Co-founder, Faith Always Wins Foundation
Like Dr. Abuelaish, Mindy Corporon turned her personal tragedy into a mission to end hate. In 2014, Mindy’s father and son were killed by a White supremacist in Kansas, USA. The grieving mother and daughter, Mindy decided to use her pain to end hate crimes. She instituted the Faith Always Wins Foundation to promote dialogue for the betterment of our world through kindness, faith and healing.
Accepting the Courage and Inspiration Luminary Award, Mindy spoke of the importance of community to help raise each other.
“Kindness, opportunity, and hope are much needed today. You wonder how Dr. Abuelaish gets up every single day, and how did he start this foundation? I can tell you, he did it the same way I started our foundation. You do it to keep the spirit alive. I thank you from the bottom of my heart that you are helping him, and all of these young women keep the spirit alive of his daughters. You are making a big difference in our world.”
The Leadership Luminary Award – Dr. James Orbinski, Humanitarian Advocate and Former President of Doctors Without Borders
The Leadership Luminary Award recognizes individuals who have bravely survived events and then distinguished themselves through outstanding service and continued excellence in their field of work.
The 2019 recipient of this award, Dr. James Orbinski is a professor and inaugural Director of York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research. As a medical doctor, a humanitarian practitioner and advocate, a best-selling author, and a leading voice in global health, Dr. Orbinski believes in actively engaging and shaping our world so that it is more just, fair, and humane. Dr. Orbinski has provided medical humanitarian relief in situations of war, famine, epidemic disease, and genocide with Medecins Sans Frontiéres. For this and other work, he was appointed as an officer of the Order of Canada.
Receiving the Leadership Luminary Award, Dr. Orbinski beautifully articulated the core philosophy behind Daughters for Life Foundation. He said education is not just the mastery of knowledge, but about true wisdom, courage, and compassion that is rooted in a felt experience of the other.
“Courage is the desire, the will, and the drive to stand up and participate in shaping our world. Courage means taking the knowledge as we acquire it rationally and apply it systematically with a compassionate lens but also with a desire to create a better world. From my perspective that’s the genesis and vision of this foundation. And that’s why I’m so honored to receive the award and honored to continue to support the foundation.”
The Trailblazer Luminary Award – The Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine, First Black female MP and Cabinet Minister
The Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine is the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons. She’s devoted to creating opportunities for her community through initiatives such as the Jean Augustine Scholarship that aids single mothers and young entrepreneurs access post-secondary education.
Dr. Augustine began her speech by quoting lyrics from the famous Louis Armstrong song, “What a Wonderful World”. She accepted the award in memory of Dr. Abuelaish’s daughters and niece, and also in memory of all the black women who’ve blazed trails like her.
“Marie-Joseph Angélique, whose history is indelibly scarred in the city of Montreal. Rose Fortune, the first black police woman any place in North America. Mary Ann Shadd, the first black woman newspaper publisher. Harriet Tubman who escorted and walked thousands of miles on the Underground
Railroad, and more recently we acknowledged Viola Desmond who refused to give up her seat in a cinema here in Canada in Nova Scotia. Many worthy women have preceded me on the trail, but only in Canada can a story like mine be realized.”
Dr. Augustine further said, “An empowered young woman can improve her life and have a positive effect on the world around her. We’re committed to building self-esteem and self-worth of young women and girls by positively influencing their outlook in life, broadening their horizons, and helping them to empower themselves. This is what Daughters for Life Foundation is all about, and this is what our involvement with you this evening is about.”