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Local Artist Honoured With Provincial Newcomer Award

Web posted on November 26, 2012

GUELPH, ON, November 26, 2012 Adwoa Badoe, a storyteller, author, educator, and African dance instructor has been recognized by the Ontario government with an Ontario Newcomer Champion Award for her contributions to the arts in Canada.

Nominated for the award last March by Mayor Karen Farbridge, Badoe joined other community leaders and organizations from across the province to be recognized during an awards ceremony, which took place today in Toronto.

In her nomination letter, Mayor Farbridge noted that Badoe brings African culture and history to life in dynamic ways.

"Adwoa is a role model for newcomers trying to find their place in their new home. She brings to the fore a great lesson for all new Canadians that it is not necessary to leave the culture of one's home country behind when settling in Canada."

Trained as a physician in her native Ghana, Badoe immigrated to Canada in 1992 with her husband and young son. When she was on a volunteer lunch duty, Badoe told African stories to keep an unruly kindergarten class quiet. The teachers noticed how enthralled the children were, and invited her back to tell more stories.

Since then, her reputation as a storyteller grew and to date, she has more than 17 children's books to her credit including Grabs for Dinner and The Pot of Wisdom, all rooted in the African storytelling tradition.

In addition to her work as an author, Badoe leads African dance and drumming classes as well as interactive storytelling workshops where she engages the audience with chants and responses. Through school presentations, she teaches not only about African culture and history, but also universal lessons such as respect and listening.

Badoe is active in the local arts community, including the Guelph Guild of Storytellers, the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and is a past board member of Ed Video, a local artist-run centre that fosters the media arts.

Badoe has also contributed to her community as a member of the Guelph-Wellington Local Immigration Partnership Council and the Guelph Mercury's community editorial board.

At a War of 1812 Bicentennial Symposium at the University of Guelph, Badoe gave a presentation about Richard Pierpoint a West African man who was enslaved in America, fought as a loyalist in the American Revolutionary War, and settled in Upper Canada. Pierpoint was possibly the oldest soldier to fight on the British side in the War of 1812.

"Adwoa's research is significant, as black people's stories have been largely ignored in the history of the War of 1812," said Mayor Farbridge.

The Ontario Newcomer Champion Award recognizes individuals and groups who have made a difference in their community and province through active citizenship and engagement.

Guelph has been well-represented in the Ontario Newcomer Champion Awards program. Last year, Guelph residents Amenda Ng and Eileen Clinton were recipients. Local volunteers Delfino Callegari and Carmela Nini were honoured with the award in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

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