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:
- 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 Lowkick.com 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.
“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.’ ”
“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 facebook.com/ryanventura604. 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!
Surrey Based Novel – Hooped – Michael Bains
Michael Bains is a writer, originally from Surrey, BC. His first novel, Hooped was inspired by his years growing up in the Newton area of Surrey.
Hooped is about a teenage boy – Jimmy, who is the son of immigrant parents and is the captain of his high-school basketball team.
Although quite intelligent, Jimmy doesn’t see the value in a high school education. He soon meets Sunny, who is an established drug dealer in the Surrey neighbourhood and he takes Jimmy under his wing and gives him a street-education.
As a teenager, Michael was exposed to both the good and bad sides of Surrey, and knew there was a story to tell. “I wanted Hooped to come across as being a sincere reflection of what is happening in Surrey,” Michael says.
“People often depict Surrey as being a certain type of place even though they have never lived there. They base their opinion of Surrey on what they’ve heard on the news and most of it is negative.
I wanted to use this novel as a way to go past the surface level and into the deeper issues of what is really going on.”
The novel also explores the difficulties that teenagers navigate while growing up in a world that has become so full of uncertainty and where it has become normal for kids to question the status quo.
“What some people don’t understand is that a lot of teenagers are seduced by the drug dealing lifestyle because they don’t agree with the alternatives,” Michael says.
“None of these teenagers see themselves wanting to work a 9-5 job. And that’s what high school and post secondary educations are designed to lead them into. So why would they buy into it?”
Hooped is being released at a time that is marked with civil unrest that is occurring all around the world. Michael hopes that Hooped can offer perspective on this unique time in our history.
As part of the release for Hooped, Michael is also launching his “Pursue Your Passion Series,” where different people will be highlighted who have followed something that they love doing.
“I don’t want the ‘Pursue Your Passion Series’ to be just about financial success. Because a passion can be anything. You can have a dream of running a half- marathon, or mastering an instrument, or playing a sport, or whatever. I feel like we could all live our lives with more passion.”
Canadian Veteran Trevor Greene inspires $312M Legion Veterans Village Centre of Excellence for PTSD
Greene’s ongoing brain injury and PTSD improvements from Afghanistan axe attack published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience
Photo: Canadian veteran Trevor Greene on a peace keeping mission in Afghanistan, where he suffered a debilitating head injury from an axe attack. Today, he continues his ongoing recovery from brain injury using innovative brain technologies.
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada – With Remembrance Day fast approaching, Canadian veteran Trevor Greene shares how he continues to disrupt conventional limits in brain injury and PTSD recovery as he rewires his brain using the latest and most advanced brain technologies, fourteen years after suffering a debilitating brain injury from an axe attack while serving in a peace keeping mission in Afghanistan.
In 2015, the B.C. and Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion helped outfit Trevor with a robotic exoskeleton, which helped him continue re-learning to walk. Called Project Iron Soldier, this exciting initiative inspired the development of Legion Veterans Village, a $312M Centre of Excellence for PTSD, mental health and rehabilitation dedicated to veterans and first responders. Legion Veterans Village is currently under construction in Surrey and is slated to be completed in Summer 2022.
A research team led by neuroscientist Dr. Ryan D’Arcy from the Centre for Neurology Studies at HealthTech Connex, and Simon Fraser University (SFU), reports the latest breakthroughs from Project Iron Soldier in a recently published scientific study in the Frontiers of Human Neuroscience journal, tracking Greene’s neuroplasticity as he shows physical, cognitive and PTSD improvements through his neurorehabilitation.
Capt. Greene and the Project Iron Soldier research team have continued with intensive daily rehabilitation, but the team experienced an extended plateau in progress using conventional therapy alone.
To break through the plateau, HealthTech Connex launched an intensive 14-week study using the Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (or PoNS™) in combination with physical therapy to safely stimulate novel neuroplasticity and tracked brain vital sign improvements using NeuroCatch® Platform (or NeuroCatch®).
The PoNS is a neuromodulation technology that sends a series of small electrical impulses to the brain by stimulating the tongue (known as translingual neurostimulation). NeuroCatch is a rapid objective measure of cognitive brain function.
A number of published clinical studies demonstrate applications for both the PoNS and NeuroCatch for brain injury, with the current case study highlighting the real-world application to push the limits of recovery in physical abilities, cognitive processing, and PTSD symptoms.
“Our team has been leading clinical research to develop and validate advanced brain technologies like the PoNS and NeuroCatch Platform for a few years and have seen incredible results in terms of improved brain health and well-being,” says Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, co-founder of HealthTech Connex, which operates the Centre for Neurology Studies and an SFU professor. “When Trevor experienced a plateau in his rehabilitation, we tried intensive conventional treatment approaches, but to no avail.
It was only after combining stimulation with the PoNS device with his rehabilitation therapy that we could break through these barriers and demonstrate significant clinical improvements.”
Results of the study:
The newly published results demonstrate that PoNS neurostimulation, paired with intensive rehabilitation, may stimulate neuroplasticity to overcome an extended recovery plateau in this case as objectively measured by NeuroCatch and other brain scanning technologies. The main findings were:
- Capt. Greene showed significant gains in clinical outcome measures for physical therapy. It is noteworthy that these improvements occurred more than 14 years after the axe attack. Capt. Greene and his wife Debbie Greene also reported notable and lasting improvements in cognition and PTSD symptoms.
- Capt. Greene showed significant brain vital sign improvements in cognitive function, particularly in auditory sensation (as measured by the N100 response), basic attention (as measured by P300 response), and cognitive processing (as measured by N400 response). The study results are published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Dr. D’Arcy describes the study results:
“We were fascinated to see that, while the focus was physical therapy, NeuroCatch scans detected cognitive improvements and Trevor and his wife Debbie reported greatly reduced PTSD symptoms.
My favorite line in this published paper was when Debbie closed the study by saying, ‘I got my superman back.’ In our COVID-19 era, when we are all concerned about the recent links to brain health, it is breakthroughs like this that bring continued hope for science and technology advances.”
Says Capt. Greene, “I first saw the power of neuroplasticity in the early days of the first study involving the MRI. I was blown away when Ryan showed me images of my brain with coloured splotches showing where my healthy brain tissue was taking over for the damaged bits.
Later on, I saw the full power of the PoNS device when I got demonstrably stronger, steadier and more coordinated after using it regularly for just a few weeks. It’s really been a game changer for me and my family.”
“Trevor’s amazing progress is no doubt pushing the frontiers of medical science by overcoming perceived limits of brain recovery,” says Dr. Shaun Fickling, the study’s lead author who completed his PhD at Simon Fraser University.
“These brain imaging results provide valuable insight into the importance of unleashing the power of neuroplasticity to inspire countless people impacted by brain and mental health conditions.”
Capt. Greene and Dr. D’Arcy recounted their remarkable progress and showcased their mission to lead scientific breakthroughs in neuroplasticity through a recent TEDx talk.
Dr. D’Arcy concludes, “These neuro-technology breakthroughs have considerable impacts to inspire many of us to push beyond conventional limits in neurological and mental health recovery.
For our veterans and first responders, who remain resilient in the face of frequent exposure to trauma, this research and science underpins the inspiration for our newly developed Legion Veterans Village, to give back through a Centre of Excellence in PTSD, mental health, and rehabilitation.”
For more about the PoNS treatment, visit the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic.
About HealthTech Connex Inc. :
Located in the Health and Technology District, HealthTech Connex Inc. (HTC) is a brain technology company focusing on cutting-edge innovations and services for rapid impact on health improvements and outcomes in neurological performance.
With brain vitality as a premier focus, HealthTech Connex provides translational neuroscience innovations to care and community sectors worldwide, bridging the gap between what is capable in the laboratory and what’s available in the real world.
It operates the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic (SNPC), a neuro-rehabilitation clinic in Surrey, British Columbia, focusing on comprehensive therapies using advanced, non-invasive brain technologies to help treat people with neurological conditions. www.healthtechconnex.com
Legion Veterans Village (LVV) :
The Legion Veterans Village is a unique $312-million, two-phase, multi-purpose social infrastructure project in the City of Surrey, led by the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, together with Whalley Legion Branch 229 and Lark Group.
The project includes a mix of 495 market housing condominiums, 91 affordable housing units, a Centre of Excellence for veterans and first responders focusing on PTSD and mental health, an Innovation Centre for Rehabilitation and a new facility for the Whalley Legion Branch 229.
Once completed (slated for Summer 2022), a key priority will be the integrated delivery of a continuum of programs and services for veterans and first responders, as well as contributing training and research towards new practices, interventions and technologies in mental health, counselling, engineering, robotics and advancements in neuroscience, etc. www.legionveteransvillage.com
Sher Vancouver releases “Queersome Desi Resources.”
Surrey, British Columbia – Sher Vancouver is proud to release “Queersome Desi Resources” which is a specially curated list of Queer South Asian Resources from around the world. The resource was created to celebrate, liberate, and validate our queer South Asian community.
We have created an extensive list including inspiring reads, podcasts, movies, creative projects and have featured around 20 noteworthy Queers in our community. This resource highlights global queer organizations to build an inclusive community by supporting each other. Let us come together and celebrate our South Asian queer community who are living their truths unapologetically. We are so grateful for your representation!
The resource was created by Sher Vancouver Women’s Coordinators Sharon and Anoushka. “I am grateful to help create this resource collection for Sher Vancouver, as it has been my saviour in my own self-healing, and acceptance journey. I quickly dismantled the belief of me being the only queer Punjabi person in the community working on this collection.
Instead, what I found was a plethora of queer South Asian platforms! All it took was determined searching of the Internet. I hope you too find comfort, hope, empowerment, and pride in these resources. Desi queers are here. Desi queers exist. and Desi queers are thriving” states Sharon.”
“Being a part of this project makes me incredibly proud as it presented an opportunity to give back to the Desi queer community. For someone who has relatively recently accepted their own identity and was on a journey to find resources, people to rely on and organizations to be a part of, a list like this would have been a great place to start.
The lack of queer representation growing up made me feel isolated and unsure but through this project I have learnt that acceptance and empowerment is present no matter who you are and where you are from. Among these resources and people, I hope you find what I was able to. Embrace who you are,” states Anoushka.
“I feel Sharon and Anoushka did an exceptional job with curating the Queersome Desi Resources for Sher Vancouver. This project creates awareness and visibility of the global South Asian queer community. South Asian queers are not alone in this world,” states Sher Vancouver Founder Alex Sangha.
Queersome was designed by one of Metro Vancouver’s most talented graphic designers Jag Nagra of https://www.jagnagra.com/
The Queersome Desi Resources is part of a three-part series designed to provide information to the LGBTQ + community. This three-part series project consists of:
1. Legal Resources Kit which consists of three documents:
a. LGBTQ+ Friendly Lawyer Referrals
b. Information Regarding Human Rights
c. Safe Countries for LGBTQ+ Travellers
2. Queersome Desi Resources (South Asian Queer Resources from around the world)
3. Sher’s Pink Directory which will list organizations that fund the LGBTQ + community in Metro Vancouver (coming soon)
The resources are available for free download for everyone on the Sher Vancouver website under RESOURCES at the following link: https://www.shervancouver.com/resources.html
Love at First Sight: A Mother’s Journey to Adoption
Raj Arneja’s new book evokes powerful emotions of becoming a mother
Raj Arneja’s joy to motherhood is her most fulfilling life experience. Her journey is filled with emotions and strife, after traveling thousands of miles from Canada to India which led her to a happiness beyond her own expectations.
Raj, the Director of Corporate Engagement and Philanthropy at Nanak Foods, recently announced the launch of her extremely personal and thought-provoking book, Love at First Sight – A Mother’s Journey to Adoption, which chronicles her journey to adopting her two beautiful children Kabir and Kirti. The book promises to inspire you to never give up hope, no matter what life throws at you.
In her book, Raj describes the challenges she faced in the 1990’s while trying to adopt her now grown up children. The stigma surrounding adoption in the South Asian community gave Raj a reason to pen her story, share her experiences and inspire people to take a chance on life and parenthood.
“Like most people, I have faced many challenges in life. Not being able to conceive was heartbreaking at first and I longed to feel the love and joy of a baby. While I felt the sadness, I was also not ready to give up,” says Raj. “I knew I would love and experience it all through adoption. With a strong will and stronger love for children, I adopted my two kids. Every day since then has been a blessing. It has been the best decision of my life.”
Raj has always believed that giving birth to a child is not the only thing that makes a woman a mother. It is the unconditional love you have for your child that makes you one. Love at First Sight – A Mother’s Journey to Adoption will inspire young mothers and aspiring parents exploring the option to adopt a child.
Raj loves her children more than anyone in the world and she hopes that her book will inspire more people to adopt, or diminish the stigma surrounding adoption. People who have read Raj’s book have found it to be of wise council.
“I hope my chosen path and my struggles can help someone find their way to undying love, just as I have with my children,” she says.
Rajiee M Shinde, CEO, ShowBox Channel of IN10 Media Pvt Ltd. A Dada Saheb Phalke Film Foundation award winner was enamored by her story. Rajiee says, “With powerful words, and wonderfully exhibited emotions, Raj gives you an insight into how her struggles and accomplishments shape her as a mother. Her journey to date is evidence of what a complete and beautiful human being she is – a remarkable example for society!”
Dr. Bal Pawa, Co-Founder Westcoast Women’s Clinic, Author of The Mind-Body Cure and TedX Speaker, found the book ‘compelling’. “This book highlights the power of love: unconditional, expansive, and infinite. Raj’s incredible perseverance and unwavering faith in a higher purpose fuel her maternal instinct to never give up.
Heart-wrenching emotions are illustrated in the trials and tribulations of IVF treatments, cultural expectations, and navigating unknown waters of overseas adoptions. I especially loved her explanation of adoption to her child, “you came from my heart.” This unforgettable reframing of biology should certainly inspire more couples to adopt.”
“A remarkable story of perseverance, love and family. Raj’s life story is an inspiration. Her journey to motherhood reminds us all of the power of intention and manifesting the life we wish to have. This book is a must read for anyone looking for an uplifting and refreshing take on finding purpose and meaning through all of life’s adventures and challenges.” – Bal Brach, CBC Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker, Reporter CBC Vancouver
The book is available on Amazon:
About Raj Arneja
Born into an immigrant family and raised in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, Raj’s childhood memories are full of colourful stories of supporting family and friends as they settled into their new country and adjusted to new customs and traditions. Raj works hard at building relationships within the community through her work at Nanak Foods.
She directs the company’s philanthropic initiatives, including strategy, programming, and partnership development, and the day-to-day operation of all corporate contributions. Raj also sits on various boards, where she adds value through her skills and experience. She is a well-known entity in the South Asian community in the Vancouver area.
Raj enjoys supporting various charitable, non-profit community organizations, including the Seva Thrift Society, VISAFF, and two girls’ orphanages in Punjab. Raj strongly feels that humanity has no borders and we should reach out and help wherever we are able to, regardless of race, gender or nationality. Raj lives in Surrey, British Columbia, with her husband and 2 children. She is an avid traveler and has travelled to over 60 countries, many times with her children and to some as a volunteer.
The Case for Mixed Relationships
What is race? That four letter word that has plagued American culture since its inception, as it turns out, may not even be real, but rather a political and financial ruse used to manipulate and separate people. According to a 2018 National Geographic article titled, There’s No Scientific Basis for Race – It’s a Made Up Label, “Over the past few decades, genetic research has revealed two deep truths about people. The first is that all humans are closely related—more closely related than all chimps even though there are many more humans around today. Everyone has the same collection of genes.”
A 2017 article put out by Harvard University asks the question, “[Is] race a myth – a mere social construct – and biologically meaningless?” It goes on to state, “today, scientists prefer to use the term ‘ancestry‘ to describe human diversity. ‘Ancestry’ reflects the fact that human variations do have a connection to the geographical origins of our ancestors. With enough
information about a person’s DNA, scientists can make a reasonable guess about their ancestry. However, unlike the term ‘race,’ it focuses on understanding how a person’s history unfolded, not how they fit into one category and not another.”
On an anecdotal level, if you were to crack open a current day middle school history textbook (just in case you need a refresher), a pretty grim portrait is painted of Europeans scouting lands on other continents that were rich in natural resources, conquering those lands and indigenous people, and claiming ownership based on little more than feelings of self-entitlement and self-proclaimed superiority.
It seems what we are looking at are artificially constructed concepts of racial designation based on financial gain and the acquisition of global turf that has remained with us over centuries, as propaganda and myth were accepted as fact. This is not about pointing fingers as to whose ancestors did what to whom, but to point out the dysfunctional origins of race designation, that in my opinion, have negatively impacted all people.
Although older generations may sit you down for the old Bird and Fish conversation (a bird and a fish can fall in love… but where will they build their nest…?) when it comes to the presumed perils of dating or marrying outside one’s race or ethnicity, another 2017 article, this one written by Psychology Today, concludes, “if we compare mixed-race and same-race
couples who enjoy the same quality of life, we find no difference in divorce rates. In this sense, there’s no evidence for the received wisdom that biracial marriages are more likely to fail.”
In fact, in 2020, mixed couples are more likely to experience pushback from well-meaning members of their own respective inner circles than they will from society at large, causing many mixed-race couples to say, “Mom, dad, you are the ones discriminating against us. Society is busy with its own problems.”
As we explore the disturbing hot button issues of white privilege, police brutality and hate crimes, yes, society’s problems can spill over into mixed couplings and mixed families, though in a most curious way. A Caucasian person may be worried about his/her Black partner when that partner is out and about without them, thereby removing the veil of white privilege they provide when the couple is together.
Mixed race children that are half Caucasian and half Black also tend to benefit from the veil of white privilege extended to them when they are in the presence of the white parent. This may lead to a false sense of security if lessons about racial discrimination and violence against Black Americans are not taught by both parents.
The bottom line is that this is an issue that impacts the Black members of that family when the Caucasian partner is not around; a problem that would have effected them as Black Americans with or without their mixed relationship or mixed family dynamic.
For their part, Caucasian people with Black life partners and Black children have a considerable responsibility to be educated, empathetic and approachable about this issue, but they must know that they cannot “rescue” their partner and children or “fix” the problem. Only changed public policy and a changed mass consciousness can eventually do
that. This is a substantial lesson for the Caucasian partner in humility, compassion, understanding and providing support without condescension or attempting to control the situation. Accept that you don’t know what it feels like, nor can you give advice based on experiences that you have never had.
In terms of integrating cultural differences, the Psychology Today article does go on to highlight potential marital pitfalls, stating, “What’s most important in determining whether a marriage will succeed or fail is the amount of long-term stress the couple experiences. This stress can come from outside the marriage, for example from financial problems or work-related issues.
It can also arise within the marriage, for instance from difficulties in child-rearing or health issues—whether physical or psychological. Lack of support for the marriage from society in general or from extended family, in particular, can also tip the scale towards dysfunction and divorce.” The article goes on to say, “When two people from different cultures marry, an important key to making the union a success is respect for each other’s cultural heritage.
When spouses look down on their partner’s culture as inferior to their own, or when they feel it’s not worthwhile getting to know their partner’s people or their ways and traditions, there’s little chance for long-term happiness in the marriage.” In other words, interracial or mixed relationships and marriages are made or broken by one simple word: respect. And respect is universal to all relationships, mixed or not. Only the details are different.
All relationships, marriages and long-term romantic partnerships endure major stressors throughout a shared lifetime. In the case of mixed-race couplings, you could simply be swapping one potential stressor for another, but that does not mean that the challenges of blending two races or cultures has to spell trouble.
On the contrary, some of the major purposes of long-term relationships are emotional, spiritual, and intellectual growth. Partnering with someone from another race or ethnicity is fertile ground for this worthy human pursuit. There is great opportunity to learn empathy, to expand oneself to allow for the acceptance of cultural and social ideals outside of one’s upbringing, to learn to see the world through someone else’s eyes and experiences, and to gain the valuable gift of knowing that romantic love and family love transcends race and culture. In short, you
will learn a lot and perhaps be better for it. There is also something to be said for the freedom of expression that comes from being one half of a mixed relationship. When marrying within one’s own race, religion and ethnic background there are a lot of “should” that both parties have grown up with in terms of what is expected by their families and social circles.
You may find little to no sympathy in your partner since they were raised within the same exact cultural construct as you, and likely see and accept that construct as what is expected. Mixed couples have broken out of that mold through the sheer existence of their coupling, creating more of a “let’s make our own rules” or “us against the world” dynamic, which is not without its challenges but can also be a proverbial relationship superglue, strengthening the bond between a couple.
A 2016 Ebony article titled Culture Clash: Why You Should Date Outside Your Comfort Zone expresses the freedom factor that mixed couples tend to experience, stating, “The cool part about blending two different backgrounds is the ability to create and share new traditions.”
If racial constructs are indeed a myth with no scientific precedent, the very act of coupling interracially or interculturally makes you two more people in the world courageous enough to dispel this long held destructive racial myth that has caused insurmountable pain and suffering in the United States and around the world.
Apart from expanding your horizons in search of Mr. or Ms. Right, you are saying no to the race myth and yes to love, and possibly creating something that will contribute to changing the world.
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