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Celebrating Young, Black Brilliance

23 Feb 2006


>> Mesfun Haile and Howard Green (Photo by Adele Ambrose).

The 1st annual Aroni Awards had one goal for the evening to INSPIRE, and it certainly has.

I never had the opportunity to meet Aron Haile but the overwhelming support from the artists, recipients and sponsors attending that evening gave me an indication of the type of person that Aron Haile must have been.    The essence of Aron Haile sparkled through each of the recipients, and just like Aron himself; all of the winners and bursary recipients are living life to the fullest while inspiring others.

The 2006 Image Award winners are as exceptional and diverse as they come, first there’s Arsema  Berhane , a health worker passionate about educating young women about HIV/AIDS,  Janvere Lyder a basketball heroine turned community activist who continues to support young women with their “hoop dreams” as well as Danielle Francis, awarded for her community development activities with organizations like the BBPA and Inroads who admitted that giving back to the community is a way of life for her and encourages everyone to volunteer.

Finally, there’s Weyni Mengesha , who has not only directed critically acclaimed plays such as “da kink in my hair” and blood.claat but some how finds time to educate youths about HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. To say that I was in awe of these individuals would be an understatement. Each of them rejuvenated my belief that there’s a hero in all of us, we just need to look within ourselves to find it.  I believe that Aron Haile was able to do this and his legacy is proof of this.

Weyni Mengesha poignantly reflects on the inspiration for the evening saying “This award is very close to my heart, because it’s inspired by someone who knew the balance between pursuing your dreams and giving back to your community.”

All of the award winners indicated that they’ve found a happy medium in serving the community and pursuing their dreams and show no signs of slowing down in their efforts.

The Aroni Awards also represented the best of our entertainment and community leaders coming together to honour the unsung heroes in our lives. From Keyshia Chante and Farley Flex to Dwayne Morgan, Toya Alexis and d’bi Young , Toronto’s home grown talent all came out to show their support for the memory of Aron and to see his family’s vision realized. Aron’s brother and major organizer of the show, Mesfun Haile said it best, “It’s the beginning of something great! We’d like to take some of things we’ve talked about and extend past tonight. It’s very important that we connect the gaps between the youth and urban professionals.”

Tracy Moore of Breakfast Television also spoke about the significance of this award saying, “I’m always surprised by the little things that make such a huge difference in the lives of people who are struggling, sometimes its just one little incident, one person that looks at them and says “ you’re doing great, keep your head up, and sometimes that can be the difference between making it or not.”  

This is a sentiment expressed by all the organizers who seek to “strengthen the youth of today for a stronger tomorrow”. Mesfun and the rest of the Haile Family hope to do this in establishing the Aroni Ambassador Leadership program (AALP) as well as acknowledging outstanding youth in our communities with bursary awards. The first   bursary recipients Kandece Brown, Gael Kanza and Heaven Mehari all expressed a similar outlook to continue to strive for success in their respective fields.

Other Image Award recipients for the evening included:

• Devon Thompson for education, who is a devoted basketball coach based in the Jane/Finch community.

• Black Habits -Bentley Springer, Patrick Morris and Jackie Cohen for their entrepreneurial spirits while serving their community

Hopefully, celebrating the life of Aron Haile will inspire others in our community to recognize the everyday heroes in their lives and motivate more to live life to the fullest.

For more information visit www.aroniawards.com

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