25-year-old honoree Faven Mergia says awards bring together the Ethiopian community sometimes splintered by old political rifts

WINNIPEG, MB (CBC News)―The Ethiopian community of Winnipeg came together this weekend to celebrate each other at the city’s first-ever Ethiopian achievement awards ceremony.

On Saturday, five members of Manitoba’s Ethiopian community were honored at the Ethio-Canadian Charitable Promotional Awards.

For honoree Faven Mergia, the event was “the start of something new,” bringing together a community she said is sometimes divided by political rifts from Ethiopia.

“I think it’s a new chapter for our community, and I believe that events like this create that sense of united community where we can all come together, appreciate one another and really look forward to the future,” she said.

‘A responsibility to help out’

Faven Mergia was the youngest award recipient at the ceremony, taking home the “Strive for Excellence” award. The 25-year-old works with youth through Peaceful Village, a program facilitated by the Manitoba School Improvement Program.

Born and raised in a refugee camp in Kenya, Faven Mergia came to Winnipeg with her family as a refugee when she was 14. Since then, she’s only been to Ethiopia once, in 2011.

But she says her strong cultural connection and pride in her roots made it easier for her to fit in, because she already knew who she was.

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