If you look up the definition of the word “community,” you will find explanations like “the people with common interests living in a particular area,” “a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society,” “a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic and political interests,” and “a social state or condition.”
Several of these definitions can apply to the work Julie Fowler of Wells is doing in her community and the broader arts community of B.C., and she is being recognized for this work as one of 25 winners of the prestigious B.C. Achievement Community Award.
“The Community Award is the cornerstone of B.C. Achievement’s mission to honour excellence and inspire achievement in the province of B.C.,” according to the B.C. Achievement Foundation’s website. “The award recognizes the contributions of extraordinary British Columbians who build better, stronger, more resilient communities and shine as examples of dedication and service.”
Premier John Horgan and Anne Giardini, chair of the B.C. Achievement Foundation, announced this year’s recipients of the BC Achievement Community Award April 27.
“These days more than ever, our communities are made stronger by British Columbians who go above and beyond,” Premier John Horgan said in a news release. “Thanks go to all of the B.C. Achievement 2020 Community Award recipients for helping build a better province for everyone.”
Fowler is being recognized for her work and dedication with Island Mountain (IMA) and ArtsWells. She is the executive and artistic director of both IMA and ArtsWells, serves on the board of ArtsBC and recently started organizing a B.C. Music Festivals Collective.
“For two decades, Julie Fowler has provided leadership in the arts, not only in her home community of Wells, but throughout the province,” the B.C. Achievement Foundation states. “As executive and artistic director of Island Mountain Arts and founder of the ArtsWells Festival, Julie has worked to establish her community as a nationally recognized centre of artistic excellence while committing resources and time to empowering contemporary Indigenous artists.”
Fowler says it felt “pretty amazing” to hear she had won the award.
“Certainly, it’s a huge honour, and when I looked at the list of the other people who were also selected, it feels pretty amazing,” she said.
Fowler has been working at IMA since 2003, and she started the ArtsWells Festival of All Things Art and International One Minute Play Festival in 2004.
Along with the ArtsWells Festival, Island Mountain Arts runs a Public Gallery, School of the Arts, which includes the Toni Onley Artists’ Project and the International Harp School and hosts a wide variety of workshops, and an Artist-In-Residence program. For the past five years, IMA has also been presenting the Northern Exposure Conference.
Fowler says she appreciates the B.C. Achievement Foundation’s focus on people’s work building and strengthening communities.
“I had heard of the B.C. Achievement Foundation before, but I didn’t know a lot about it — but my understanding is the Community Award is their main award they give out each year,” she said. “I certainly appreciate that and feel pretty humbled. There are so many worthy people deserving of recognition for their service to the province, and I certainly don’t take it lightly and also know there are so many unsung people working in their communities that just work away and don’t get recognized — so I really appreciate the B.C. Achievement Foundation’s work for recognizing people for doing community work around the province, and I know there are so many people who do so much work in their communities.”
“A lot of the things I’m being honoured for, my work with Island Mountain Arts and the festival, it’s always a team that makes it happen, so certainly that award is shared amongst all the people who have helped bring all of these projects to life,” she added.
The recipients of the 2020 Community Award are Julie Fowler of Wells; Myles Mattila of Kelowna, who used o live in Quesnel; Aisha Amijee of Surrey; Dr. Paige Axelrood of Vancouver; Domingo (Dom) Bautista of Richmond; Duncan Bernardo of Vancouver; Morgan Churchill of Fort St. John; Dr. Mary Anne Cooper of Port Moody; Carolyn Duerksen of Prince George; Lorrie Fleming of 70 Mile House; Bonnie Harvey of Cranbrook; Gloria Kravac of Burnaby; Larissa Lapierre of Port Coquitlam; Steve Little of Terrace; Jacqueline Macgregor of Chilliwack; Valerie Murray of Victoria; Leigh Pearson of Coldstream; Sarjeet Purewal of Surrey; John Ranta of Cache Creek; Ivan Sayers of Vancouver; Steven (Steve) Sorensen of Sooke; Carolina Tatoosh of Port Alberni; Jim Terrion of Prince George; Dr. Andrea Walsh of Victoria and Shayne Williams of New Westminster.
Fowler says it’s great to see a lot of people from the Cariboo on the list of award winners.
“It’s really interesting to see; it truly is across the province,” she said. “I look forward to being able to meet all those people at some point.”
The recipients of the 2020 Community Award will be recognized in a formal presentation ceremony in Victoria, in the presence of B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin. Each recipient will receive a certificate and a medallion designed by B.C. artist Robert Davidson. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony planned for the end of April has been postponed to a future date to be announced.