A compassionate business owner and her courageous employee are co-recipients of the Rotary Club of Tsawwassen’s 2022 Community Peace Builder Award.
Linda Mallard and Anastasiia Viekua were honoured on Wednesday (Sept. 21) during an outdoor ceremony at Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall’s Rotary Square Peace Pole.
The award is presented annually to commemorate United Nations’ International Peace Day on Sept. 21.
Nominations are brought forward by rotary members and the Interact Club at South Delta Secondary. The award is given to an individual, group or organization living, working or serving within the Tsawwassen community who is creating a culture for peace while combating racism, violence, discrimination, bullying corruption or any other issue.
Viekua is among the millions of Ukrainians who have had their lives turned upside down since Russia invaded their country in late February.
In May, the 27-year-old left behind her husband and other immediate family members, to come to Canada after accepting a position as an instructor at Mallard’s Tsawwassen Wellness Centre (TWC) Pilates. Viekua has not only been embraced by Mallard and her staff at the Tsawwassen Springs facility but by the entire community.
“My day may start with learning how my friend has lost his house or I am wondering why my dad is not responding to me. Every day I seem to have all these questions and when I go to work, TWC Pilates provides with an enormous amount of inspiration because I know I am not alone,” said an emotional Viekua while accepting the award from Tsawwassen Rotary president Blake Cowan.
In desperate need of instructors at the time, Mallard connected with Viekua through the Travelling Pilates Instructors website back in March to see if she would be interested in coming to Canada for the first time in her life.
“Not all Ukrainians (coming to Canada) have that. Some are coming off the plane and are connected with a homestay where they know nothing about each other,” said Mallard. “We helped Anastasiia and hopefully her family (as well) at some time. And now she is taking it forward by helping other Ukrainians and supporting them with translation.
“Now it’s snowballing in the most beautiful and precious way. I’m so grateful for the community of Tsawwassen and for your love. We have in fact saved a life and maybe a family by opening our hearts. I’m so blessed to have met this most beautiful and courageous human.”