Surrey (BC) – The veteran MLA from Surrey-Whalley, Bruce Ralston, will be presented the Dr. Ambedkar Social Justice Award 2014 at an October 14 ceremony, President of Chetna Association of Canada Surinder Ranga announced.


The award is presented to individuals and organizations modeling behaviours or establishing policies that are aligned with the vision of India’s Father of Constitution, Dr. Ambedkar, who succeeded at turning the lives around for a quarter of India’s the population by the power of his pen, democracy, and peaceful revolution.


Ralston was selected for the Award this year because of his noteworthy contributions and achievements towards inclusion and justice, including:


*In the 1980s Ralston, a lawyer, acted on behalf of indigenous Guatemalan refugee claimants, as well as Indo-Fijians fleeing successive military coups in Fiji.


*In 1993, Ralston, a Surrey city councilor at the time, advocated for Orthodox Sikh veterans wearing their service medals who were turned away from a Remembrance Day ceremony simply because they were wearing turbans. Ralston’s advocacy for recognition of Sikh veterans of the Canadian Forces led to a high profile change of practice by the Royal Canadian Legion across the country.


*From 1995 to 2006, he was elected to four consecutive terms as a member of the VanCity Savings Credit Union board of directors. While he was chair of the board from 2001 to 2003, Ralston led an extensive VanCity media campaign to welcome, respect, and celebrate the business of all customers – regardless of their sexual orientation. A high profile advertising and publicity campaign drew the negative reaction of the Roman Catholic diocese, but the campaign was successful in attracting business and breaking down barriers against the portrayal of same sex relationships in local mainstream advertising.


The award will be presented Tuesday, October 14 at 1 p.m. at  Simon Fraser University’s WAC Bennett Library (Burnaby Campus). October 14 marks the 10-year anniversary of the installation of the Dr. Ambedkar bust at the WAC Bennett Library.


Dr. Ambedkar has been recognized in India as the “Greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi” through a poll conducted by Indian National broadcaster, NDTV.


Dr. Ambedkar’s vision of just societies is built on the ideals of equality, liberty, and fraternity- ideals that inspired the French Revolution and are as well found in Buddhism. “These ideals are not limited to India or the Indian sub-continent, but are equally applicable across the globe”, said Jai Birdi, Executive Director of the association.


As a graduate of Columbia University, London School of Economics, and other prominent universities, Dr. Ambedkar is often described as a ‘Great Thinker’, visionary, philosopher, and a statesman.  After introducing the constitution to India, Columbia University of New York conferred upon him an honorary Doctorate of Law (LLD).


In addition to Simon Fraser University, Dr. Ambedkar’s legacy and vision for just societies is recognized by the City of Burnaby and the Surrey Libraries.


The October 14 ceremony is presented by Chetna Association of Canada and both the Simon Fraser University Library and Institute for the Humanities (SFU).

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