Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon will present the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding to Michel Aziza at a ceremony at Government House on Monday, Jan. 7 at 5 p.m.

Aziza has quietly led and been the driving force behind the Operation Ezra project to rescue, sponsor and resettle Yazidi refugees since its very inception. In addition to Operation Ezra’s 55 Yazidi sponsored refugees, Aziza has worked tirelessly to help government-sponsored Yazidi refugees, and has organized relief for those living in desperate circumstances overseas in the refugee camps. A member of the Jewish community, he has personally and generously intervened to help individual refugees and their families. Under his leadership, an Operation Ezra English as an Additional Language Program was created, expanding to include government-sponsored refugees. Thanks to Aziza’s work, Operation Ezra, a project rooted in the Winnipeg Jewish community has grown organically to include many partners in the multi-faith community, advancing interreligious understanding and knowledge about the Yazidi religion and culture.

“Michel Aziza’s visionary outreach and passion for inclusion exemplifies the spirit of this award.” said Lt.-Gov. Filmon. “In this province where we so proudly embrace multiculturalism, Mr. Aziza has been a model of excellence, bringing voices throughout the multi-faith community together to effect change.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding is presented each year at a ceremony at Government House, most often to an individual, who best embodies understanding between all religious groups.

Past recipients include:

  • Manju Lohda and Ray Dirks – collaborators on numerous educational multi-faith initiatives, including the In the Spirit of Humanity project, and Leap of Faith DVD;
  • Devon Clunis – former chief of police for the City of Winnipeg;
  • Rev. Karen Toole – former provincial spiritual care co-ordinator, radio host and newspaper columnist;
  • Rabbi Doctor Neal and Carol Rose – professor of religion at the University of Manitoba for more than 30 years and Carol is a writer, poet and spiritual teacher;
  • the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy – former minister of foreign affairs and president of the University of Winnipeg and life-long active lay member of the United Church of Canada;
  • the late Dr. Redwan Moqbel – former head of immunology, faculty of medicine at the University of Manitoba and a member of the Bahai Faith;
  • Dr. Atish Chandra Maniar – a Hindu priest;
  • Mae Louise Campbell – an Ojibway Métis elder; and
  • Zane Zalis – a composer and musician.

For further information on this award and others given to worthy individuals by the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, visit the lieutenant-governor’s website at

– 30 –

Contact: Kate Gameiro, 204-945-2752.