Spotlight: Ann and Jo-Ann Sobkow Award

By Mischa Milne, Communications Coordinator


When a refugee wins an award, and yet is so concerned for the ongoing safety of their family still back in their country of origin that they wish to remain anonymous, it reinforces the importance of bringing awareness to the plight of refugees and newcomers who want to enjoy the same peace and freedoms we all have, and contribute to their new country.

We do so by honouring some amazing refugees and newcomers as part of MOSAIC’s annual Awards Ceremony. Like so many things, this year it’s going virtual – and you’re invited to help celebrate by joining us on Thursday, Oct 22 at 6 pm.

This year, the new Ann & Jo-Ann Sobkow Scholarship Award of $1300 will be distributed to a refugee recipient. Established to support refugees who are looking to pursue a career in the helping professions such as education, health care, and counselling, the Award is named to honour the lives and work of mother and daughter, Ann and Jo-Ann Sobkow.

“Both Ann and Jo-Ann were concerned for those that were less fortunate and wanted to be able to assist them in realizing their goals in life. They were also both lifelong learners who placed a huge value on education,” says scholarship fund advisor and family friend Paula Carr.

The Sobkow Scholarship Award provides financial support to a refugee who is over 25, particularly by facilitating the recipient’s post-secondary education at a Canadian college or university. Carr notes that when researching information for the award, the advisors found that there was a gap in career development support for older refugees.

“Often, the first priority of refugee settlement is getting established, finding housing, and finding work. Once the basics have been attained, they begin to think of broader career development, and often this is after they are 25.”

Jo-Ann’s life’s work was in career development, and she wished to specifically help refugees in this area. Her early career at Employment and Social Development Canada (then called Human Resources Development Canada) involved developing methods and tools for career counselling, and she later worked on analyzing the occupational barriers faced by immigrants and refugees when coming to Canada.

Her mother, Ann, placed a high value on reading, education, and the arts, and she had a strong sense of social justice. She provided primary support to four children, and was proud of the careers that her children and grandchildren pursued.

Due to safety concerns for family members who are still in their home country, the first refugee recipient of the inaugural Ann and Jo-Ann Sobkow Scholarship Awards wishes to remain private. However, MOSAIC extends a warm congratulations to them.

The 2020 MOSAIC Awards Ceremony will take place virtually on October 22. If you’d like to attend, you can get your free ticket here.