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On The Comeup: Ryan Ventura



I’m Carson Hoy, a musician and contributor to SR3Y, I’m 20 years old and I’m obsessed with the “success mindset”.  The idea that life can be whatever you make it is so fascinating to me, and in this series I’m showcasing some people from Surrey who are rising up and showing that manifestation is alive and well.  If you’re from Surrey or not, school or retired, this article will prove that YOU can grant your life’s wishes.  There’s people around the corner doing it right now!


I see a local Surrey guy in a suit…  In the octagon

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw that a friend of mine (a DJ show promoter) was liking a guy’s posts named Ryan who was in a cage at an MMA match giving his all.  His captions on his photos seemed very positive and confident.  My first thought was “Wow, a ring announcer… interesting, I wonder if he’s from here? Must be a Vancouver guy.”  Growing up I was a sheltered kid, so in my world fighting was presented as: “THE DEVIL”  “Someone’s gonna die!” “It makes kids violent!” seeing hockey on TV every night I couldn’t help but wonder if a person flying through a pane of glass at 30kph wasn’t dangerous… But I digress.

Since I’ve been on this whole success thing, this “raise my vibration, open my mind” idea, I immediately forced myself to comment my thoughts, and it was something to the effect of “This is so cool man, keep it up!” to which he would reply kindly each time I did it.  I followed him and decided “What the hell, might aswell add him on Facebook too”  Once I did, my news feed was showing inspirational shots of Ryan Ventura in the ring at a new even bigger fighting event, protesting his love for the sport to the world.  I do the same thing with my music, I understand how invested I must be to do something out of the ordinary… Ring announcing though?  I wondered how someone could end up in that position at all!  Playing music is so common, but this must have been a more unusual path.  An extraordinary life demands and uncommon approach to living, so I was determined to find out what kind of stuff he had to pull to make it happen.

Having now spoken with Ryan and picked his brain a bit, I’ve narrowed down that he shows all the traits of a raging success:

Successful people:

  • Find a passion
  • Make it their purpose
  • Dream BIG
  • and WORK for it!

Now let’s share what we found!


Llllllllleeet’s get reaady to- *ahem*

Talk with Ryan Ventura!


Bold print – Carson Hoy

Italic print – Ryan Ventura


“Hey my man!  Been getting hyped on your posts!  How’s it goin?”

“Thanks man! Glad the posts get you hyped up. I’ve just been keeping busy, just working towards achieving my dreams, paying my bills, and having fun doing it.”

“Atta boy.  Seeing your posts I was most intrigued by the fighting world in general since I’m a complete baby to it.  Never being introduced to fighting in my own life, I wanted to know what was the earliest experience you’ve had with fight culture?”

“It’s kind of a Filipino culture thing I guess. My grandpa really loved boxing and Martial Arts movies with Bruce Lee. I would hang out with him and his interests rubbed off on me. Anything to do with fighting I was a fan of. I grew up playing Street Fighter II, watching Dragon Ball Z, and of course watching bootleg VHS tapes of UFC fights.”

“Yes!  I too, watched hella Dragon Ball Z.  Being a performer myself I can see you put on a performance in the ring.  Have you had previous stage experience?  I know you love music, seeing you at dance music events.”

“Yeah man, prior to introducing fighters I used to be a rapper myself and hosted / promoted Hip-Hop since I was in grade 12. I did alright for myself in the Hip-Hop world. Before YouTube blew up the way it did, I had quite a following on Myspace and was featured on TV and newspapers all over the country, even brought talent to Vancouver from the US. I stopped making music and performing a few years back and focused on becoming the best ring announcer I could be and it paid off of course. As for EDM events, I started promoting for Solid Events nearly two years ago and all the good stuff I learned from promoting my own events I’ve applied to our events. I think I’m doing a pretty good job there too. ”

“Yes man, you have accumulated some skills that may not have pointed to ring announcing at the time, but looking back it makes so much sense.  I wonder, what was the moment you crossed over into fight announcing?  That’s such a specialized position to thrust yourself into, I would NEVER want to mess up a fighter’s name in the ring with him haha”

“Back in 2011 I used to work for a website called which used to cover the sport of MMA for USA Today. When UFC 131 went down in Vancouver in June 2011, I was assigned to cover it.  Before the fights that night at Rogers Arena, I attended the MMA Expo earlier that day at the Vancouver Convention Centre. I saw a guy posting flyers around the building, his name was Ben Mehdi and he was promoting this event called ‘Quest for Glory’. It was a new up and coming MMA promotion in town.

Being a long time fight fan and guy who isn’t afraid to go on stage and talk in front of crowds, I asked Ben if he needed a ring announcer. Keep in mind, I’ve never done anything like it before, but I felt like I could be good at it. He already hired a guy to introduce the fighters, but he gave me three tickets to Quest for Glory the weekend after UFC 131.

A week later at the Croatian Cultural Centre in East Van, Quest for Glory had it’s very first event. I went there as a fan that night, a guy just going there to enjoy some fights with his brother and cousin. But something that day in me told me that I needed to pack a dress shirt, pants, and shoes- just in case. I didn’t think that night I would need it, but as fate would have it I ended up getting the call up to introduce the fighters halfway into the card. The guy they hired initially was really nice and a had a good voice for documentaries and voiceovers, but it wasn’t the kind of voice you needed for fights and the crowd let him him know that night that they weren’t impressed.

Ben asked me if I wanted to to try this ring announcing thing, I said sure, and it was a crazy yet fun time for my first event. I didn’t know any of the fighters that night. I learned their names as they were walking out. Before the BC Athletic Commissioner governed the events, there was another group that did it and I didn’t know who the scorekeepers and timekeepers were. So when fights went to decisions, I had to go up to each individual judge and score it myself on a piece of paper. My first show was a gong show, but apparently I did pretty well and people loved it! I shook hands with my new bosses, they wrote me a check, and made me the voice of their promotion while it lasted. And as they say, ‘The rest is history’ and I’m still doing it today.”

“Keys to success, 1. Come prepared 2. Bring your BALLS

Success creates friction, what were some obstacles you’ve overcome to be where you are?”

“I think my biggest challenge was my age. At the time when I started out I was 23 years old and I felt it was hard for some guys in the scene to take me seriously because I was a kid in an old man’s game. But once I was given opportunities and chances from pretty much a who’s who of fight promoters in the province of BC, as soon as I put on the suit, held a mic to my face, and introduced the fighters, everyone knew I was the real deal. There are way too many people to name, but you all know who you are. Everyone from Quest for Glory, Westcoast Promotions, Muay Thai Kai Singthong, Muay Thai Series, the Battlefield Fight League, Mamba MMA, and Z Promotions. Thank you for all for giving this kid a shot.”

“Being thankful leaves people wanting to endorse ya boy even more, good stuff man.  

Our culture has moved in this direction where we want to see the impossible, the underdog story, the touching facebook post that we ‘Share’ to feel good about the world.

Do you think you’ve come into this at a good time?”

“Well Carson, my entire life I’ve been an underdog. I think the underdog story is timeless and we could always relate and root for those that made nothing into something. I worked very hard and struggled a lot to get where I am today. Sacrificing personal relationships, money, time, etc. I’m not by any means where I want to be just yet, but I’m knocking on the door and when I close my eyes I can see the reality that will soon be mine. But even then, just like Martial Arts or just any craft in general the pursuit of greatness is never ending.”

“Another great lesson I’ve learned from research and experience is to ‘stay a student’.  That is a lesson taught in martial arts like you said!  No wonder you’ve adopted it for life.  

How important is positivity and ‘cutting out’ negativity from your life?  You mentioned sacrificing relationships, I can relate heavily in music.  I’ve also found that social media has had a huge impact on my well-being and success, what are your thoughts?”

“Social Media has played a huge part on who I am on a personal level and on a professional level. For a long time I’ve been involved in online marketing as a full-time job when I’m not introducing fighters or promoting events. Seth Godin, who is a very well-known author and entrepreneur once said that “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell.” And that’s my approach to Social Media in everything I do. I’m not trying to play a character or anything like that online, I behave the way I would in person, and I truly believe in the stuff I share or post. Other than promoting what I’m doing, I prefer to put out positivity with stuff that’ll either make my followers laugh or inform them with information I care about.


Ryan giving his peak energy state to the fighters and crowd. Photo: Anett Meszaros

Ryan giving his peak energy state to the fighters and crowd. Photo: Anett Meszaros


“I agree, the genuine feel always comes through as we are very perceptive, even through a computer screen, of someone’s intention.  

That positivity talk aside, who’s the greatest trash talker in fighting?”

“I’d say Conor McGregor right now. What makes him dope too is that he backs up a lot of the things he says. He gets a lot of hate, but I think when his career is over people will look back at how good he was. As for an all-time great of course, the champ in and out of the ring is the late, great Muhammad Ali. That guy talked a real good game and backed up every word as well.”

“I’ve been on “Top 10 Ali-” binges late at night on Youtube, McGregor also.  Those guys can intimidate, even knock someone off their game.

On that note, what has been your most embarrassing moment in the ring so far?”

“Haha, I’ve had my fair share. I’m human, I fuck up here and there. I can’t point out exactly as to one embarrassing moment, but I’ll tell you right now I’m like Ron Burgundy from Anchorman. I read exactly what is on my cue cards even if it’s incorrect. I’ve messed up scores, messed up names, etc. To minimize those mistakes, especially if we’re on Pay-Per-View LIVE for the world to see, I double and triple check all my notes before I step into a ring or cage. Sometimes even then, it happens from time to time. Just gotta make sure it doesn’t happen when it really matters.”

“Yup, in a cage with human death machines who’ve poured their soul into the decision of the fight, and you get to read an incorrect card.

Key to success 2: Spare pants, once again, come in handy.

In Canada we love hockey, if someone says it’s dangerous (Bare knuckle boxing on hard slippery surface ‘eh?) we scoff and question their sanity… Someone mentions how MMA is dangerous and we form an angry mob.  I find this is like EDM/Rave culture, which we are both fans of- A parent let’s a kid go to a rock concert without a care, but a RAVE!?  

“You must be popping Wally- the music is trash!”  – (Concerned parent who dropped acid at Woodstock listening to trash)

What are your thoughts on the negative stigma around mixed martial arts?”

“I think the reason Mixed Martial Arts and EDM have such a negative stigma is because they are not embedded into our culture. Things like boxing, hockey and rock and roll are accepted for how they are because your grandfather grew up watching or participating in it. He passed it onto your dad, who passed it on to you. From there it becomes a part of culture and is no longer viewed as the ‘flavour of the moment’ If that makes any sense. I think MMA and rave culture will get to that level one day, it’s just up to people like us to pass it on to the next generation and so on and so forth.”

“I agree completely with that statement, I believe we’ll be bringing our children to MMA fights without batting an eyelash then they’ll come up with some rank new form of Naked Space Golf or whatever… If that makes any sense.

Thinking about your path I’ve wondered, who do you get the most inspiration from out of any one person in the world?”

“That’s hard for me to answer properly because there are so many great people that I find inspiration from. My mom is a very strong woman having raised my younger brother and I pretty much by herself. She had to deal with our bullshit in our teen years and she had to play the role of dad when he wasn’t around at the time. As a ring announcer, my all-time favourite is Jimmy Lennon Jr. Our styles are completely different, but I love the way he carries himself and the way he introduces fighters, he’s one of the best to ever do it. In terms of charisma and just all-around swagger I look at people like Jay-Z, Eminem, The Rock, Muhammad Ali, Conor McGregor, and the list can go on and on. I see how they carry themselves when they talk, and they’re the best at what they do. I try to channel that in my introductions. ”

“Man, you opened my eyes to this idea of being totally different than anyone else as a ring announcer.  At first I thought it was like any other profession but then I realized how truly unique it is, and how little people there are with your job description.  What would you say makes you really unique and stand out?”

“I’d say my energy and passion really sets me apart. I’m not just a guy that talks and wears a suit, I REALLY love combat sports and I want everyone watching to care about the fights that are about to go down. For any promoter that hires me, I give you my word to give introductions that your fighters deserve and fans won’t forget.”

“I’ve seen your videos and yes, it’s very hype.  I’ll admit I’ve never seen anyone else like that, and it has a massive impact on the crowd as a DJ’s energy at an EDM show does.

As a fellow Surrey boy, we know there’s labels on our city but that there’s great people coming out of it.  Who’s someone you’d like to shout out from Surrey who’s killing it right now?”

“That’s easy, everyone in Surrey and the rest of the world should know who Josh Jauncey is. He’s one of the most exciting and technical fighters in the world today, ranked in the top ten in the GLORY Kickboxing league. He was born in England, but raised in Surrey, and groomed to be a world champion by his father who is a world champion. He’s also a really cool guy and is one of the best representatives of our city on the world stage.”

“It’s really cool you’re personally connected to the fighters too, that’s something I didn’t imagine.  

Speaking of a world stage, if there was a billboard in Times Square with your face on it and a few words, what would they be?”

“A picture of me with the microphone, pointing to the people looking at the picture. With the saying below ‘Love what you do and success will follow.’ ”

^ Artists rendition of what such a billboard may look like. Photo: James Findlay

^ Artists rendition of what such a billboard may look like.  Motivate those New Yorkians! Photo: James Findlay

“Living proof!  How important is it for you to work from passion? I’ve heard so many people’s take on happiness and money, some try to buy happiness.  What’s your thoughts?”

“As time goes by and I get older, I start to realize that happiness and time is more important in life than money. I’ve had jobs that paid relatively well, but I hated being there at my desk and didn’t enjoy it. When I started to not care about the money and just started working hard on my passion that’s when gigs and opportunities started to come my way. When I wasn’t even trying too hard, it all just sort of naturally came to me. Promoters started to call me and not the other way around. I mean, I still do the leg work, and contact those I think I would be a good fit with, but I think I’m doing something right when I start getting messages about my services. I think of that interview that Ariel Helwani did on The MMA Hour recently with Demian Maia. This guy fought Anderson Silva for the Middleweight Championship of the World and wasn’t successful. He started not to enjoy the process anymore. He was trying so hard but he said

“The day I stopped caring about the belt and started to enjoy the fights, I became successful”

He is now a contender for the Welterweight title!”

“I had to separate that quote to prove it’s meaning, that’s a real trend I’ve been hearing from my daily research on elite performers.  “Fall in love with the process”

From talking to you I’ve sensed honest earned confidence, when you say you’re knocking on the UFC’s door, I believe you wholeheartedly.  It feels like you have the people supporting you, the experience, and now the dominoes are in place to knock down.  You’ve gone from announcing fights in small halls with 50 audience members to packed hockey arenas, what’s the next step man?”

“When I did the Z Promotions Fight Night 2 card in Medicine Hat, Alberta, I approached it as a DJ doing his first set at EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival, a major dance music festival) -not on the main stage yet, but there nonetheless and for the right people to see. Here I was in this other province, introducing fighters who fought in the UFC. Guys that I grew up watching way before I ever put on the suit and yelled in a mic. It was surreal man, and even now I still can’t believe what I just did.

I can say this without ego, I’m one of the best in the world at what I do.  YAS, KILL EM – Carson

There isn’t anyone out there like me and it’s only a matter of time till I get my shot. The next step from here is to branch outside of Canada and begin doing events in the US and overseas. It’s all very doable and not impossible. I just gotta keep taking it one event at a time. Keep introducing the fighters the way I do, as if I’m introducing a main event in Madison Square Garden. Set these micro goals for myself, continue to conquer them, and eventually I’ll be where I want to be. But like I said earlier, the hustle don’t stop. Even when I’m at the top of the ladder of what I’m doing, I have to continue to best myself and improve every single day.”

“One step at a time, that’s how it happens man!  Keep up that energy and conviction, I believe you will never regret doing what you do as you’re growing as a product of it.  I’m extremely excited to see what you do in the near future man, you’ve opened my eyes to a world I never would have been introduced to.  Thank you for this interview, I’ll be front row at The MGM Grand soon enough!  Where can people find more about you?”

“I’ll be launching a website and some merchandise very soon, but the best way you can reach me at right now is I’m very active there. Twitter and Instagram @ryanventura604. Thank you Carson for the interview, shout out to S3RY / Surrey 604 for allowing me to tell a bit of my story. You guys represent what our city and community is really about and I’m proud to say that I’m born and raised here. As a collective, everyone in our city is doing big things for the world to see, so let’s all unite together and show everyone that a lot of great things come from here.“

That was very eye opening for me, I now know a lot more about the world of MMA and ring announcing from doing this interview.  Mixed Martial Arts is the world’s fastest growing sport, and so this is an important time to learn about it I think!  I hope you check out some of Ryan’s links below and feel like a cool cat when you see him at Madison Square Garden pumping up the crowd 😉 Thanks again to Ryan, I’ll be keeping up with him for sure!

Here’s where you can find more info about Ryan! |

Carson's a recording artist with Cloverdale Records who's in love with self improvement and everything that motivates! He's also the City of Surrey's "City Wide DJ" and performs at events around the lower mainland.

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Young, Bright and a Promising Future Ahead: Aman Bassi



Aman Bassi is a young and coveted Executive Producer and Director from Surrey. Born in 1995 in Surrey, BC, she has been a part of popular Netflix productions like ‘Sabrina,’ ‘Firefly Lane’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘6 Underground’, ‘Sacred Games’, Red Notice (in production)’ and ‘Riverdale (ongoing).

With numerous awards and accolades to her name, including ‘Best of Show’ and ‘Best of DOP’ at Whistler Film Festival along with a nomination as ‘Best New Director’ by PTC, Aman’s creative instincts have always set her apart in a crowd.

Glued to the camera since an early age, she is now a celebrated Director, having worked on Directors Guild film projects including ‘Ghosting’, ‘When the Lights go out’, ‘Descendents 2’, ‘The Mighty Ducks’, and ”Bates Motel.’ Her feature film projects include major titles such as Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, ‘Hobbes and Shaw’, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘Jumanji 2,’ and some iconic Punjabi Films including ‘Manje Bistre 2’, ‘Ardaas Karaan, ‘PR’ and the indie film ‘Monster.’

Aman attended high school in Surrey at LA Matheson and Princess Margaret before graduating from the Art Institute in 2015. Starting her career in the film industry working as an assistant when she was all of 16, she eventually worked her way up to being the Executive Producer on the sets for Vancouver production houses.

Owing to her young age, Aman faced obstacles in proving her might and ability to others. Being young and female did not make it any easier. But her grandmother’s words always motivated her to do her best. “You should do anything and everything you want to in life,” she would say.

The 24-year-old Producer says, “Past couple of years in this field has given me a whole lot of perspective into how I want to channelize my life. When I started I didn’t think of it as a career option but now when I am at it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Never think you cannot do something or give up without trying. Hard days will come but they will go by. We all need to just keep a clear head and continue believing in ourselves.”

Bassi also has some popular music videos in her kitty, including, ‘High Rated Gabru’, ‘Issa Jatt’, ‘Too Hot’, ‘Pagal’, ‘Baby Baby’, ‘Jatta Ve’, ‘Circles’, ‘Closer’ amongst others.

Her own music and music videos which have now been released include ‘Chaali Jaan de’ and ‘Vibe’ and have turned out to be one of the most trending songs on Spotify.

On her favourite projects so far, Aman shares that it would have to be ‘Manjay Bistre 2’ because it was shot in Canada and showcased an Indian setting. The entire crew worked together like a family, she says. Her most challenging project was ‘Hobbes & Shaw’ because “It had lots of stunts and topping that with the multicultural crew and language issues made it way more challenging than any other projects I’ve worked on,” she adds.

When asked about her future plans, Bassi says, “I have too many dreams for myself but I really want to direct my own feature film and I’m already working on that.”

“In addition to that, I am working on a new album. This film and album is my way of sharing my story with the world and I’m extremely thrilled to do that. It’s a dream for me to win some of the prominent accolades this industry offers,” she says.


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Armaan Chohan joins DFSIN BC



Armaan Chohan has now joined as Vice President of Sales and New Business Development at Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN) BC. DFSIN BC has 7 offices in several locations across BC and a total of 600+ advisors, with the team continuously growing , Armaan will be a great asset to the company as he brings with him a fresh perspective and vision to grow the team at DFSIN BC along with enhancing the current business practices.

Armaan is currently in his first year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) studies and is very actively involved in community activities such as assisting and managing various charitable causes with the Perminder Chohan Foundation. He has successfully hosted and managed blanket drives as well as food drives for the less fortunate for the Foundation in 2018 and 2019. He is also currently working on some new projects for the foundation which will better assist the community at large.

More about the foundation:
For more information on DFSIN BC, please visit:

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Winners of the LGBTQ+ January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Awards for 2019 are announced



February 3, 2020, Surrey, British Columbia – Lebanese journalist and activist Norma Lize of Vancouver has won the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award top prize for 2019.

For these fifth annual awards, there were applicants from Metro Vancouver, Ontario, Newfoundland and even as far as India. Twenty-seven-year-old Norma Lize was selected as the top prize winner ($1,000 award) by a diverse eight-member jury.

The January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award was created by Sher Vancouver in 2015 to recognize young leaders who are advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. It is named after Sher Vancouver’s late social coordinator, January Marie Lapuz, a transgender Filipina woman who was tragically murdered in New Westminster, BC, in September 2012.

“January would be so proud that Norma, who also identifies as transgender, is this year’s winner! This is not surprising as Norma was also recognized at the prestigious Paris Prize for LGBTQ+ rights in 2018. We are fortunate to have Norma living in Vancouver now, and continuing her advocacy to benefit the people of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia,” says Alex Sangha, Sher Vancouver Founder and Award Coordinator.

In addition to the top prize, several other nominees were recognized at a ceremony today held at Surrey-based DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, a non-profit organization that came on board as the exclusive sponsor of the award this year.

“We are proud to provide support to Sher Vancouver and its January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award,” says Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity. “As a champion of diversity and inclusion, we at DIVERSEcity work to empower newcomers and other diverse or vulnerable communities, including LGBTQ+ members. We have a program called Together Now, a free peer support group for LGBTQ+ newcomers who face many challenges and cultural stigma. Our hope is to encourage acceptance and belonging for all, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

Norma Lize, Winner ($1,000 prize)
27 years old | Vancouver, BC

Andy Holmes, First Runner Up ($600 prize)
23 years old | Vancouver, BC

Jackson Wai Chung Tse, Second Runner Up ($400 prize)
29 years old | Vancouver, BC

Sonali Patel, Honourable Mention ($200 prize)
23 years old | Oakville, Ontario

Emerging Youth Advocates Prizes

In addition to the top four winners above, this year Sher Vancouver decided to award seven Emerging Youth Advocates $100 prizes to encourage youth who are starting to do great work with their advocacy and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. The winners are:

  • Aidan Andrew Pau of Delta, 17
  • Candy of New Westminster, 23
  • Gracie Reid of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, 17
  • Guildford Park Gender and Sexuality Alliance of Surrey, under 18 years old
  • Moe Yang of Richmond, 19
  • Nel Jayson Cruz Santos of Vancouver, 21
  • Nyx MacKinnon of Surrey, 16

About Sher Vancouver

Sher Vancouver is a non-profit society for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends, families and allies in Metro-Vancouver, BC. Sher Vancouver hopes to reduce the alienation and discrimination of people dealing with sexuality, gender and coming-out issues by providing advocacy, counselling, peer support and social activities. Everyone is welcome to join regardless of ethnicity, religious belief or sexuality. Learn more at

About Diverse city Community Resources Society

At DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, we empower newcomers and other diverse communities to build the life they want in Canada. Our free, multilingual programs and services in language, settlement, employment and counselling provide them with a foundation of information, skills and connections to achieve their goals. Our social enterprises — DIVERSEcity Interpretation and Translation Services, Skills Training Centre and Language Testing Centre — support this work, too. As a registered charity in Surrey and the Lower Mainland with a 40+ year history, we champion diversity and inclusion for all, and our message is clear — everyone belongs here. Learn more at


Winners’ Biographies


Norma Lize is a Lebanese-born journalist and activist living in Vancouver. Before coming to Canada, Norma used radio and TV platforms to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ topics in Lebanon and the Middle East, and worked at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, where Norma focused on the trans community. “I don’t see my involvement with my community as work that I do every day, as much as I see it a necessity for me to be alive, survive and give a chance to someone around me to feel safe, respected and included. I moved to Vancouver a year ago and I have been involved with organizations working with refugees and with the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus more on trans newcomers.”


Andy Holmes is queer biracial Canadian with both Chinese and British/Scottish heritage. Currently a master’s student at the University of Toronto, researching LGBTQ+ issues, Andy intends on starting a PhD next year with the goal of eventually becoming a professor. “Knowing that January Marie Lapuz was not only a transgender woman living in poverty, but also an immigrant of colour, matters in understanding patterned forms of violence, and in turn, her irreplaceable memory. In my research, I study ways to ensure that our world becomes a safer place for those who are most marginalized.” Andy was the youngest person appointed to the City of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee between 2017–2018.


Jackson Wai Chung Tse (he/she/they) is a media artist and creative facilitator originally from Hong Kong. He facilitates workshops at institutions across the globe, and, in 2018, Jackson created the award-winning mini-documentary, Paul Wong: Breaking the Silence, to highlight the discrimination felt by generations of queer Chinese migrants in Canada. The same year, Jackson was selected as Western Canada’s MEC Outdoor Nation Ambassador, taking over the co-operative’s social media. He says he “dedicates his life to building relationships, giving voice to the silenced, and reclaiming joy, magic and self-worth back from colonized ideas.”


Sonali (Alyy) Patel is a graduate student in Ontario, LGBTQ+ rights activist and co-founder of a national non-profit organization, the Queer South Asian Women’s Network. Sonali states she strives to bring visibility to “issues and experiences of queer South Asian women in the LGBTQ+ community through research and advocacy work.” Notably, she organized Halton Region’s first LGBTQ+ Pride Festival in 2015, was invited to speak at Rainbow Health Ontario’s National LGBTQ+ Health Conference, and recently published a peer-reviewed article on the culturally specific ways in which queer South Asian women experience racism in Western LGBTQ+ communities.

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Interview with DJ Heer for the Canucks Diwali Night




On October 25th, the Vancouver Canucks will be celebrating their 3rd annual Diwali Night before and during the game against the Washington Capitals. There will be a flashmob, and live performances by Jazzy B, DJ Heer, and DJ BIG. And also complimentary South Asian food samples in the concourses.

Diwali is one of the world’s most celebrated festivals and the name itself means “row of lighted lamps” with light symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, prosperity over poverty and knowledge over ignorance.

We’ve interviewed DJ Jovan Heer, who now lives in Surrey, to learn more about him and the upcoming Diwali Night.

Being a huge passionate fan of the Canucks and of music, you’ve combined both to help spearhead the Diwali Night. How did that happen and what motivated you to take action?

I’ve always been a fan of Punjabi and Bollywood music ever since I was a kid. I saw a huge opportunity to do something with the Canucks as their is such a big South Asian community in the Vancouver area. 3 years ago I reached out to Ryan from the Canucks, who was in charge of organizing special events, on Twitter saying that we needed to have a night that celebrated the South Asian community in a way.

A few months later, I received an email from him asking me if I wanted to DJ on the plaza outside of Rogers Arena and I was shocked that it was actually going to happen and that I would have the opportunity to DJ for my favourite team. The first year was an amazing experience, after I DJ’ed on the plaza I was able to go to where Jay Swing was DJing and was able to see how everything operated up there and also got to share the floor with the likes of Jim Benning, Trevor Linden and many more prominent Canucks figures up in the press box during intermissions and at the end of the game.

Last year was even bigger when E3 Entertainment got involved and they made the event even bigger and better with the addition of more performances and the Crown Prince of Bhangra Jazzy B, myself and the Q-Town Productions team also DJ’ed on the Plaza along with a Bhangra flashmob. Diwali night has become a huge deal and is making news all over as this is an event everyone wants to attend. The Hockey Night In Punjabi team is also another huge factor in this night as they have grown very much in the past few years and have brought in a whole new demographic of fans with the Punjabi commentary as now families are now all gathering together watching games.

How did you get into DJ’ing and who are your main influencers?

I’ve always had a passion for music growing up as a child, my parents would play music and I would dance for hours listening to it and singing along. When I realized that I could do what I love and be the life of the party with the music I play it was something that I just couldn’t pass up. I had mentors in Edmonton who I worked with under the Pure Entertainment name and I also took some classes with Night Vision Music as well that helped excel my skill level. My main influencers have to be Jazzy B, Malkit Singh and Notorious BIG as they’ve made me a huge Bhangra and Hip Hop fan.

You get booked to perform in different countries. How does that feel?

It’s honestly a surreal feeling having the chance to not only travel but to perform in front of sold out crowds of hundreds to thousands of people along with performing alongside some of the biggest performers in the Punjabi music industry.

What would you like to see more of in terms of both the music and hockey culture in Surrey?

I think right now everything is going great with the culture. We have Hockey Night in Punjabi with Punjabi commentary and broadcasting, there are many South Asian players on ice and ball hockey teams so parents are now investing the money and putting their kids in these leagues. E3 Entertainment has done a great job working with the Canucks making sure the experience of the entire night is a success and fans are enjoying the entire night.

What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring and rookie DJ’s and music producers?

Marketing is everything in today’s day and age. The harder you work, the more you put out there, the more successful you will be. There are plenty of talented DJ’s out there but so many are so resistant and don’t make the time to put out mixes that fans can listen to.

How do you balance being a DJ, working a full time job, and the rest of life?

It’s all about balance. It’s a lot of juggling things and a lot of nights with no sleep but in the end if it’s going to make you successful and set you up for the future then it is all worth it. Not only am I working full time and DJing but I also have my own radio show on Rukus Avenue Radio and am a music journalist for Simply Bhangra the world’s largest South Asian music website as well. It’s tough to handle at times but it’s something I enjoy doing.

What can fans expect at the Diwali Night?

Fans can expect another Diwali night full of music and dance. We will be performing on the plaza outside of Rogers Arena prior to the game and their will be many other plans for the night as well. The highlight of the night will be the performance of Jazzy B who is one of the top Punjabi music artists of all time.

What are your predictions for the game against the Capitals?

I predict a 4-2 win for the Canucks, we are 2-0 on Diwali Night.

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One of BC’s first female fire fighters retires after 27 years with the Surrey Fire Service



Surrey – In 1992, Nancy Innes was playing and coaching basketball at SFU when she saw a recruitment flyer for the Surrey Fire Service (SFS). The then 26-year-old student applied and soon realized women firefighters were a rarity. In fact, at that time, there was no glass ceiling to break because there were no full-time female fire fighters in the Metro Vancouver area. On September 14, 1992, Nancy Innes became the first of two full-time female fire fighters to join the Surrey Fire Service and eventually rising to the rank of Fire Suppression Captain.

“Women fire fighters are not uncommon today, but 27 years ago they were non-existent in Lower Mainland fire departments,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Nancy Innes is truly a trail blazer and inspiration for women who want to make a career out of firefighting. I want to congratulate Captain Innes for the long, distinguished and groundbreaking career she has had with our Surrey Fire Service.”

The Surrey Fire Service is proud of its progressive and barrier-free approach to its recruitment.

“I want to commend Captain Innes for her contributions to the Surrey Fire Service,” said Fire Chief, Larry Thomas. “Nancy is proof that women can have long and fulfilling careers as fire fighters. As Nancy moves into a well-earned retirement, I know her pioneering work will inspire other women to fill her place within the ranks of the Surrey Fire Service.”

Currently, the SFS has 40 women in its uniformed ranks in roles ranging from frontline firefighting and dispatch to Assistant Fire Chief. The SFS offer “Women in Firefighting” workshops designed to enhance recruitment of women to the fire service.

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