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A Survival Guide to Online Dating in your 50’s.



Online dating is advertised as the way to meet “interesting people” and boy some of them are really interesting.

There are 54,000,00 single men and women in the US. Of those 250,000 have tried online dating. This is a $1,700,000,000 industry. People spend $250 a year trying to find that special someone. There are slightly more men online dating than woman (52.4% male/47.6% female). And how many find their soul mate? Only 20%.  In Canada those numbers are about a third.

With society cocooning in their homes, the ability to meet new people becomes more and more limited and disconnected. Online dating isn’t the ideal but right now it is the only way to meet new people.

It is fraught with room for error. Men say they don’t understand women and women don’t understand men and when you add the typing and texting component, there is even more room for misunderstandings and missteps, well, it’s not surprising that it is only 20% find sucess. How can we make online dating easier and a more attractive option?

In an effort to get some answers, I interviewed three women and four men, ages 45 to 60, all active or recently active online daters.

At the end of the interviews, I have some online dating survival techniques and some alternate ways you might be able to meet new people in Surrey.

 Shara: Thank you for being willing to talk to me about so sensitive a subject as your love life. What is the biggest challenge you find with online dating?

Annie thinks “The biggest challenge for online dating is that there are so many no’s for so little yes’s, so very quickly we get focused on the negative part of things and we get very discouraged easily.”

“I found the whole thing disappointing. The people that I was meeting weren’t anything like their profile.” Jo agreed.

For Rob, he found that there are two types of women and there are challenges to dealing with each type.

“One wants to chat for a while on line and then talk on the phone (up to a month sometimes) while others are very straight forward. You exchange a few messages and they want to meet. You have to be able to figure out which one is which and respond accordingly.”

Susan thinks maybe men and women want different things at this stage in the game.

“Men have told me that they want a committed relationship but I am just looking for some fun.  How the roles have changed. I have been looking after people my whole life and at this stage of the game I am not interested in going back into the nurturing role. I want to learn to ride a motorcycle.”

Michael wants to find someone to marry but most of the women he talks to just want a travel companion or a fling. He finds it all very frustrating. I asked him why he wanted to get married.

“I want to be a part of a family again. I miss that. I think my kids miss that. What is wrong with being a wife?”

Half_Full_Cup thinks women want Fun, Security and Companionship/Intimacy.

“1. Fun. Many women in this bracket are emerging from long quasi-dysfunctional “holding pattern” relationships, often for the sake of raising children, or they are breaking free from the “golden cage” of marriages gone dead. 2. Security: as we age, we become insecure about growing old alone. Many of us have not dealt with our own issues about independence and solitude. 3. Companionship and Intimacy. This is simply the human side of being human: having someone to appreciate life’s adventures with, quality time and conversation, being heard and understood, enjoying physical and sexual intimacy.”

V had a different take on the challenges. He felt that the majority of online dating was too time consuming.

“There are too many fake profiles, too many people who misrepresent themselves or have no idea what they are looking for. And that is just waste of time, especially for professional people like myself who can’t afford to waste our time.”

My experience seems to indicate that women by and large, don’t know what they want and as such they don’t find it. It is hard to find what you want if you don’t know what you are looking for.


Annie says that women can get better at defining what they want from the experience and then write a profile that expresses that.

“I became discouraged and disappointed. I stopped and then went back and stopped again. I finally improved my profile, changed my strategy and read a lot of books to try and understand what I could improve and at some point I became good at it and started getting what I wanted.”

Jo: “I think I have been impatient. It is very discouraging to put time and effort into someone and then have them just disappear.”

Which led to my next question: Should people respond every time, even to express that they are not interested, when they receive a message on an online dating site?

Tips from Ask says no.

Is it considered poor etiquette to not respond to messages that a guy obviously put some thought into, if I am not interested in meeting him? Or should I just ignore?

It’s fine. Really, it’s fine. Your time is not unlimited, and you have no obligation to respond to every single message you get, just like you don’t have to accept a drink from every guy who offers you one in a bar.

If the message is really great but you just don’t see it working, there’s no reason NOT to respond with a “hey thanks for this great message but I’m not interested” – I do this sometimes – but it’s 100% ok to not respond.

In real life, the results were mixed.  Some thought you should respond while others thought it was a waste of time.

Rob says “Initially I think when I first started online dating, I tried to respond to every message but then I realized that most women don’t even read the messages. I would say 90% don’t respond if they are not interested so I don’t respond either.

Mike agrees. “If they respond, even negatively then I think I might still have a chance. If they don’t, then I know to let it go.

Jo says “ I tried to in the beginning but then I became overwhelmed. I didn’t have enough time to answer them all.”

Annie points out that men and women think differently. She embraced the male way of approaching this.

“At some point, I realized that for men no answer is an answer. So I decided to embrace that. No answer could be an answer for myself so if he disappeared then it was the same as if he sent me a message saying “I am no longer interested, I think we are not a match”. I didn’t take it personally because being a match for someone says nothing about my value.”

I thought it was nice to acknowledge their message even with just brief “no thank you” but Annie disagreed.

“I used to do things like that. I started as the nice person position and didn’t want to hurt people but I found that when I would answer even to say I am not interested then they will keep coming back for more conversation. I found it was almost received as a “maybe”. I found that no answer was a real “no”. It was really clear.”

V said

“Certainly. Why? You may be surprised to find out that there are many individuals for whom the politeness and common sense are “foreign languages”!



So I asked, how many messages do you think a woman receives?

V thought men and women got the same number depending on the quality of their profile

Rob couldn’t even guess but he figured is she was pretty probably a lot. Mike said he though about 5 a day maybe. Half_Full_Cup thought maybe several per day.

Jo thought that men probably received even more than women. Susan agreed although she said that 3 or 4 messages a day was more her average.

Annie had a system.

“I had to find a system. For me, the system was no, no, no, no, delete, delete, delete and then just deal with the ones that had a chance.   It is a bit like a job interview. They don’t contact all the applicants, only the ones that have a chance. So I really approach it in that way. It was the only way I could manage.”

The research shows the following:

A writer experimented with this by setting up 5 fake profiles of varying attractiveness for each gender  and attempted to control for variables outside of attractiveness (profile content, questions, etc.).

The results after a week:

  • The median messages for females was 18 messages (so ~3 per day)
  • The median messages for males was a paltry 0 messages

If you are curious about the experiment you can read more here:

I wondered if men were getting mixed messages about how to proceed in this new online world. Just like in the real world of dating, they are often damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Is it possible that men feel like their hands are tied because they are not sure what the proper thing is to do.

Annie agreed, “I have found that to be a big challenge for the men I know. I found that men are really confused with the lead and how to take it. So some men will just completely give the lead to the woman by saying “where do you want to go” and then the woman answers “I let you pick” and then the man thinks “I have no direction, I don’t know anything about her” so they are both frustrated in that situation.

I have found what works really well is when the man is leading by listening.

“Take something from her profile and start from there. Oh! I see that you enjoy red wine. Are you a Pinot Noir type of lady?”

He is leading and he is going to win because he has taken enough information.

As for the women who have to deal with the “What would like to do/Where do you want to go” type of question,  you can help a man taking the lead by not taking it yourself. Just answer, ‘A glass of wine would be great’ or ‘I love Italian food’, this is a general hint so he can then suggest a plan, ‘Would you join me for a glass of red at Romano’s?’ Some men will jump on the opportunity, and some others will not.”

I found that is the missing part for most men is that, the good guys want to please you but they don’t listen. They just want to please you and they want to do whatever you want to do or on the other side there are the jerks that say, “let’s do that” without even considering how we feel about it. So I found the guy who can find the in between place is the one who is going to win that game because they are so rare and women will respond to being listened to.”



One thing that was interesting about how men and women respond to online dating is the way that they internalize the events that happen. If a man stops responding to a women’s message, she assumes that it was something she said or did; whereas if a woman stops responding, a man will assume that the problem was with her.

Rob had this experience and thought that the woman wasn’t really who she was pretending to be. Mike said he figures he was “too much man for her”.

All the women thought that they had miss-stepped in some way. Except for Annie. She felt that she didn’t really want to date them again anyway so when they disappeared, it was kind of relief. She said that women need to ask themselves, did they really want to see that guy again. Most of the time the answer was no.

Do most people online lie?

Rob thought about 30% of women lie about their age, weight or some other part of their attractiveness. Mike said the numbers were more like 50%.

From a study done by Michigan State University, women removed 8.5 lbs from their weight while men removed 2 lbs but they lied more about their height. While people are honest about their age, their photographs were not as recent as they led one to believe. All told it is believe that 80% of people lie on their online dating profile although most of their lies could be called “little fibs”.

Rob said that one profile which made him laugh was titled “Made you look”. He said it was a very attractive picture of a woman but in looking at the other pictures it was obviously taken years before. It did “make him look”.

If online dating is so fraught with dishonestly and difficulty then what would be a better way to meet potential partners?

Everyone agreed that meeting during regular daily activities would be a much better way to meet people.

Half-Full­_Cup says “Meeting during normal life-activities, such as clubs, coffee-shops, outings etc … is somewhat more “affirming” in terms of real contact, but online dating widens the playing field and opens up so many more possibilities. People need to embrace it as a learning experience, rather than an oppressive reflection on ego/self-worth.”

Annie thought meeting on a holiday was best because we are more open to possibilities when we are on holidays.

Jo agreed. “When I am working 9 to 5, I have no intention to meet anyone but when I am on holidays I open myself up to the possibilities.

I asked them if they would comfortable if a man walked up to them in their daily lives and introduced himself.

To my surprise, all the ladies said, “Yes.” In a bar, in a grocery store, at the mall. They all agreed that a man could come up to them and introduce himself. I wonder how that would play out in real life. Would they still be as happy if a stranger came up and started talking to them? I wonder.

V thought it really depended on the person.

“That depends on everyone’s personality: some people are more introverted than other. Some are more analytical (e.g. sometimes in such situation I am overanalytical. Smile because I always should remember, while we may not be able to control different situations in our lives, we can control the way we respond to them. Therefore, I can’t see myself approaching a group of lovely ladies sitting at a bar). But I wouldn’t consider this a wrong approach if is done in a polite manner.”

I think Half_Full_Cup might be right

“There should be courses taught in online dating. It’s not going away.”

Another observation I made about the differences between men and woman was how they responded to abuse online. The men were all genuinely surprised when I told them that one in five messages is abusive. When I told them the names I had been called or things that had been said to me, they were shocked. They had no idea that women had to put up with that.

Rob told me that he once told a woman he wasn’t interested and she sent him back a tirade about how all men only care about looks and how dating is a meat market. He said he actually didn’t want to date her because she said she was religious.

Women tend to think everything is about how they look but Rob says it is more about who they say they are. He felt that most men read the entire profile and made their decision based on that.

Mike says he doesn’t read the words, just looks at the pictures.

The disconnect seems to be that online we treat people differently then if we know them personally. People will leave people hanging for example.

Rob said that he has left people hanging. “I have been on some dates where I asked if they were interested in going out for dinner and even took their number but then never called them.”

When I asked him why he would do that he said that after he had thought about it, he realized he wasn’t interested after all. He admitted that that probably wasn’t a very good trait.

He then asked me if I would be interested in going out for dinner sometime….hmmmm.

V was a bit more old fashioned.

” Being a genuine gentleman and a fashioned man (even though very open minded) the men should speak out their mind and always be fair. Therefore, never disappear without saying goodbye.”

I asked them how long it takes for a woman (or a man) to know that they are attracted to a person.

Annie and Jo both thought that a couple of dates were necessary to know if they were interested or not. Susan said she could tell instantly if it was a no but the “maybe’s took a bit more time.”

Rob thought that most men knew right away if they were interested. Mike said he knows as soon as they open their mouth.

V said he always knew as soon as he met them face to face and he thought women also instantly knew.

I asked Annie what advise she gives her classes when they talk about writing a profile.


Annie says “What we all do when we write a profile, we want to talk about ourselves and who we really are, and I found that is not the point.   We need to be authentic, of course, but also wise on a marketing level. You don’t want to hear the list of ingredients when you watch a ketchup add! And I don’t want to know everything about somebody’s life the first time I see their picture online.

We want to put just enough for people to get excited with us. So using marketing language you need to talk to that other person in a way that connects with them.  “Are you the type of man who enjoys road trips and real adventure?”then they can say, “yes, I am” or “no, I am not”.

So the profile that did very well for me had at the top ME: and a couple of words.   Funny things about me like that I like taking risks but I am afraid of lighting the BBQ. Something that is really specific about me and it isn’t so important that he knows that I am afraid of the BBQ but it gives the guy something to talk about with me. If you say “I love the beach”….which beach do you like?

Sometimes we complain that guys are not really that interesting but we have to look at what we have given them to talk about because they pick from our profiles so are we giving them something they can pick.

I made a point of having a shorter profile because it not about having an extensive explanation about who I am – they will find out. It is about putting enough things for them to get the idea of the type of person I am, the type of person I am looking for and all fun things. Nothing negative about “if you are a player” – you only talk to the person you want to meet and the person you want to meet is that great guy so he isn’t a player or that jerk or whatever. He is a great guy and you are talking just to him. Not to all the other guys on the site that you don’t want to meet.

I put a few funny things about me that are very specific. So my friends would be able to read it and say, “this is so Annie, to do things like that. ”Then they read the part I write about them and think “Yes, this is me.  I am a great guy like that!” And then there is the “us” part which is the dream of us together that we have.

Because there is that kind of “oh this is really the type of relationship I would like” because when you are single for a long time, you forget what it is like to be a couple and the pleasure of being two.

We write about the guy we want and then give that kind of vision of being two and what it means for us and then the person who wants that same type of vision for two really connects with that and says “oh yes, wow. I really want that.” Then there is an inspiration for a guy to send more than just ‘hey’ or ‘how are you?’ because in reading your profile, he felt something.

It is hard to make a man feel something, they don’t feel as often as we do. When you bring a beautiful, fun, sensual version of being too, and you put softer words that men connect with the feminine world, you help a man opening his heart.

To summarise, it is about having a message that says, I am happy, I am good at taking care of myself. My life is great already (without saying that) and this is how I would like it to be with a partner. And men when they feel they can provide something, they get very excited about this. So many men offered to take care of my BBQ. It gives men something they can offer and something to talk about with you. You need to give them that opening.”

V’s advise for women writing a profile was to put some effort into it.

‘I would advise them to put a bit of effort when write their profile. An intriguing, well written, articulated profile is a must. At least for myself. I am fascinated to read such profile, since I prefer the substance over a nice…shell. Avoid the stereotypes and clichés (they are so boring and unattractive): “I like walking, hiking, going to gym n times per week, I love my family and friends (who doesn’t?!) etc., etc.” Never use shortcuts or Internet slangs. Be honest about your fundamentals: age, marital status, children, etc. Don’t share your entire life story in your profile but don’t make it “2 words profile” neither (e.g. “I will tell you later” or “If you want to know anything just ask me”!)’

Mike just wanted more pictures.  🙂

The women all said the same thing.  They want to see your eyes.  Take off your sunglasses and smile, honey.

So what have we learned….

1) The first rule of online dating is lower your expectations.

You are drawing from a pool of 250,000 people, of all cultures and attitudes. If you think of it in terms of meeting people at the grocery store, you may be able to gain some perspective. If you were to walk into your local grocery store and look around. How many people in that store would have the potential to become your best friend? How many would you date? How many would you avoid? The truth is that it takes large numbers and a lot of sorting in order to find people we have a minimum of common ground with. Add another 230,000 to that mix and you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Accept that. Have your “delete” trigger finger ready.

Try to find the fun in it. Meeting new people can be interesting and fun if you truly allow them to be who they are without placing your expectations on them. It is a great lesson in staying in the moment.

In lowering your expectations, you don’t get as easily discouraged. Online dating must be taken for what it is. A way to meet a lot of people. Nothing more. Can you find that perfect one, yes, possibly but if you expect that everyone you meet is going to have some possibility, then you are going to be discouraged.

By lowering your expectations, I don’t mean settling for a person you don’t really want. I mean, let the experience be just that. An experience. Don’t read more into it that isn’t there.

2) Improve your changes by taking time to write a good profile and attach good, recent pictures.

Commit yourself fully to doing this right. Hire a photographer if you need to. Find some online help in writing that perfect profile. Make the full-hearted effort to show yourself truthfully and in a good light.

3) Stay safe.

Be aware that people lie online. Accept nothing at face value. Whatever he or she says they are, they must first show you that in person before you put any stock in their words. Be aware but remain open to the possibilities that they could be what they say they are too. Find that sweet spot between being suspicious of everything and naively trusting everyone. Never give anyone money, ever.

4) Be prepare for frogs (or diva’s)

Know that part of this process is wading through a lot of people who are the “wrong one” on the way to finding the “right one”. Wade graciously and carefully. This online dating takes a Stetson or tiara and hip waders.

5) Don’t be modest.

You are marketing yourself and confidence is sexy. Over confidence is not. Find that sweet spot. Read other people’s profiles for ideas.

6) Be original and specific about the things you like.

Give your potential partners something to start a conversation about. Give them glimpses of who you are and what you like.

7) Playing hard to get doesn’t work.

You have to make the first move. Look through the search and find someone to try and strike a conversation with. Reach out a lot. If you are going to do this – then commit to really doing it.

8) Don’t fantasize too much.

Don’t endlessly email. Meet sooner than later.

9) Don’t do all the talking.

Listen. Even it there are gaps in the conversation. Silence even. Be quiet and let your partner set the rhythm of the conversation

10) Stay in the moment.

You might meet just someone or someone special or you might meet that special someone, but either way, enjoy that moment in time.


For those of you who have decided that online dating is not for you, there are ways you can meet people in real life. Look for singles events in your area or join some clubs and meet all kinds of people, single and otherwise.

Check up Singles Meet up’s

Go dancing

Go to the Casino

Try speed dating

Join the Surrey Board of Trade and meet all kinds of people

Go for a Walk

Good luck. Stay safe. Be Honest. Don’t take yourself or online dating too seriously. Stay in the moment.






Shara Nixon loves to hear and repeat the stories of people’s lives and cultural viewpoints. She enjoys deep conversations and people who hold strong viewpoints. In her day job she is a social worker for business owners, helping them meet their goals. As an insomniac, she writes at night to clear her head. She is punctuationally challenged and uses too many !!!. She also believes in creative spelling as an art form. Her super-power is in connecting like-minded people and communicating with an intent to learn instead of respond. She writes about relationships, business savvy, online dating, finance and general things that piss her off. Shara believes that key to peace is education and connection!!!

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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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