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Grace Mainvil,  NABO Bizi Emankorra Award Recipient
Grace Mainvil was honored with North American Basque Organizations' Lifetime Achievement Award, Bizi Emankorra in 2006. 
For Photos of Award Ceremony click here.

Grace was born in San Juan Capistrano, California in 1934. She is the daughter of Basque immigrants who settled in California. Her father, Jean Pierre Lacouague, arrived in San Juan Capistrano, California from Ainhoa, Lapurdi in 1910. Her mother, Bonifacia Mujica, came to Fullerton, California in 1912 from Maya in the Baztan Valley of Nafarroa. Grace spent her early years on her parentís ranch where she grew up with traditional Basque life and culture. After marrying John Mainvil in 1959, they settled in Riverside, Califormia.  Where they were involved in the Southern Californian Basque community of Chino. In 1972, they moved with their four daughters to Weiser, Idaho. After retirement, they moved in 2002 to Eagle, Idaho where they currently reside. 

Grace has been active in Basque communities her entire life. Over the years she has been a member of Euskaldunak, Inc of Boise, the Basque Museum, and The Society of Basque Studies.  Currently Ontario,Oregon Basque Club is proud to count her among its members. Grace joined Ontario, Oregon Basque Club in 1973.  She has held several offices in the Ontario club including President, Vice-President, and Secretary. She was selected to be Ontarioís N.A.B.O. delegate in 1982.  Because of her desire and passion to contribute to Basque culture, she has represented Ontario at N.A.B.O. for over 20 years.  Through the enthusiastic and detailed N.A.B.O. reports that Grace gives at the Ontario meetings, it is evident that she truly believes in and is dedicated to the mission of N.A.B.O.. 

 In 1987 Grace was elected to the office of N.A.B.O. Treasurer, a position of great responsibility that she has retained for many years.  Always looking out for the best interests of our federation, Grace has done a thorough and impeccable job in this office.  She pursues with equal vigor matters of cents and those of thousands of dollars.  Her professional attitude and detailed treasurerís reports reflect her dedication to our organization.  For eighteen years Grace has provided continuity at the head table at N.A.B.O. meetings. Over the years many presidents have come and gone while Grace has quietly served as our trusty anchor.  She has become an invaluable resource for all of us regarding our collective past.

In 2003, Grace was chosen to represent N.A.B.O. at the Third World Congress on Basque Communities held in Gasteiz, Araba. She was an ideal ambassador for our federation because of her in-depth knowledge of N.A.B.O., her interest in Basque culture worldwide, and her friendly manner and ease of communication with other participants.  Her experiences were personally enriching, but have also had a positive impact on the N.A.B.O. and its relationship to other institutions. nominated Grace for the Bizi Emankorra Award because of her tireless devotion and service to Basques and our culture throughout the decades, especially her long-term dedication and countless hours of work as N.A.B.O. treasurer.  Her life-long passion to be involved in and promote Basque culture in communities surrounding her makes her a strong candidate for this honor.  Above all, however, we felt that Grace deserves this award because she truly embodies the ideals of N.A.B.O..   

When N.A.B.O. began over three decades ago, Basque America was quite fragmented.  The divisive notions of French or Spanish Basque that emphasized or even created differences among us, were all too common, and individual communities were much more isolated from one another than we are today.  N.A.B.O. has bridged the gaps that once divided us. Grace has been an active participant in building these bridges.  She transitioned from the Southern California communities to Ontario, Oregon where she learned the Bizkaera dialect dominant there.  Although she was a newcomer, she dove right into all activities, contributing her unique knowledge and talents.  She introduced her fellow members to new friends and ways from other Basque regions.  Working with the youth in Ontario she also helped bridge a generation gap and inspire younger generations to take pride in their heritage.  Grace has been exemplary as a bridge between Ontario, Oregon Basque club and N.A.B.O. and between N.A.B.O. and Eusko Jaurlaritza as well as other Basque communities worldwide.   Wherever you see Grace she is engaged in conversation with people from various clubs and different ages and always has a smile and a kind word for everyone. 


In her quiet way, Grace has played an indispensable role in helping N.A.B.O. fulfill its mission.  She has done this directly by serving as treasurer for nearly two decades and indirectly through her work for Ontario, Oregon Basque Club, representing our views at the N.A.B.O. level. She is committed to the success of N.A.B.O. and works with all member clubs whenever they need assistance.