Outstanding Community Service Award

Originally from Nigeria, Dr. Zainab Jerrett (PhD'98) came to Canada 30 years ago to embark on her PhD studies in folklore at Memorial University after receiving a prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship. She is the executive director of the Tombolo Multicultural Festival, the founder and CEO of We Care Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador and the owner and operator of International Food and Craft Expo Inc.

For decades, she has been an outstanding contributor to the social fabric of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Much of her volunteer work is devoted to developing and increasing cross-cultural understanding and caring in the community, providing unheralded support to newcomers, both students and immigrant and refugee families. From locating and providing winter clothes, household items or familiar food items, to speaking at the Black Lives Matter demonstration about equal rights, to broadening her efforts to address the issues of gender-based violence and transcultural competency and awareness through workshops and online discussion forums, the work is broad and informal.

She has closely worked with St. Augustine’s Anglican Church to help international students adjust to life in Newfoundland. Her advocacy for the international community led her to begin sponsoring international suppers from the church, which were sometimes coupled with a concert of international singers. Often, 200 people would attend these gatherings, not only sharing nourishing food, but merging cultures and learning from each other.

In April of 2014, a terrorist organization in Nigeria abducted over 276 school girls at Chibok village in Borno State, a region where Dr. Jerrett grew up. Her sister’s village was also attacked, forcing her family to flee in the night. Within two weeks of her sister’s escape, to assist with the care of the girls who had also escaped their captors, Dr. Jerrett raised funds to create over one hundred scholarships (her original goal was 12). Within that initial fundraiser, We Care Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador was born. Since those formative years, her outreach efforts have broadened to also collect donations of supplies for students and communities affected by the Boko Harama insurgencies. The foundation has also sponsored dinners, silent auctions and entertainment to raise funds for this worthy cause.

During Snowmageddon in 2020, Dr. Jerrett delivered meals to those stranded by the storm. During the COVID-19 outbreaks, she purchased and delivered culturally appropriate groceries to families in need.

She is often called upon by the Association for New Canadians and government officials to heighten cultural awareness and assist in resolving conflicts and providing consultation. She has generously given her time and abilities to expand cross-cultural appreciation and awareness in local schools.

Her humble approach has, on countless occasions, reached out to marginalized society, both here in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond. Her devotion to relieving poverty, providing educational opportunities, and her desire for a better tomorrow that includes all people is a beacon of hope for the future.