Supermodel Naomi Campbell and civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton were among the major names honoured Saturday night at the Canadian Museum of History by the family of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The museum played host to the Black History Month Gala and Mandela Legacy Awards, which are intended to celebrate the values of the former world leader and anti-Apartheid fighter, said his grandson, Zondwa Mandela.
"Ottawa has just really been supportive and totally given us that platform and that access to the community ... that we need to continue spreading this message," Mandela told CBC News on Saturday.
The gala was held at the same venue where Nelson Mandela received his honourary Canadian citizenship in 2001.
Now in its fifth year, the gala is the brainchild of Gwen Madiba, who came up with the idea while studying at the University of Ottawa.
Its mandate is to bring champions of social justice together with ordinary citizens, she said.
"When we get members of the public out and everyday heroes and she-roes to be in the same room to receive an award on the same stage as these people, it makes them understand how powerful they are, as well," Madiba said.
Campbell, in particular, was recognized for her multiple charitable causes, including Fashion for Relief — a series of fashion shows first held in 2005 to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Other celebrities recognized Saturday night included opera singer Measha Brueggergosman and Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban.
The gala had initially been planned for February but was postponed due to what organizers called "unforeseen circumstances."