From city councillor to the fourth runner up in the world’s best mayor contest, to her place at the federal table in the Canadian Legislature, Dianne Watts is known for having a sharp business mind and an ability to cut through red tape to get things done. This unusual combination of skills propelled her, and the city she was responsible for, to a new level of respect and growth during her years as mayor and continues to move her forward on a national scale.
Ms. Watts started out on council in 1996 as part of the strong Surrey Electors Team (SET). At that time, it could have been said that she ran on the coat tails of the strong community support for the experienced Surrey Electors Team under Mayor Doug McCallum. This virtually unknown Surrey city councillor quickly made her voice heard.
Although she worked well and cooperatively with the other team of councillors, she clashed with Doug McCallum. She became more vocal and more publicly defiant in her stand over issues that she felt negatively affected the city. In 2003 she broke away from SET, stating that she disagreed with Doug McCallum and his bullying style of leadership. She also took public aim at some of the SET supported policies, policing in particular.
The SET team didn’t take her bid for mayor seriously and woke up surprised to find that the new head of the city was this young upstart that they had mentored. One of the youngest mayors, Dianne Watts stepped into a divided council, a city with a less than stellar reputation and a growth curve that would challenge even the most experienced city planner.
Using the same work ethic that gave her the mayor’s seat, Dianne used her unique style of leadership to propel the city into a strong period of growth. She was definitely a less talk and more action type of leader. Her business-first approach pushed council, the city staff and the policy makers to adapt and keep up with the speed with which she moved projects ahead.
Being a self-described, non-politician politician, she has some basic principles which consistently show her reasoning, motivations and the belief structure around her style of leadership.
She consistently deflects personal praise and reminds everyone that her successes are a result of the team around her. This genuine attitude won the hearts of her council members and over time they were able to form the strong and cohesive team necessary for city growth.
Understanding that she works for the people, this humble and consistent theme has endeared her to the hearts of the public. When you went to city hall with an idea, the first approach is – how can we make this work, instead of being given lists of reasons it won’t work. This simple change in attitude at the top resulted in a complete turn around in how the city moved forward.
Liberal candidate for MLA, Tracy Redies remembers,
“One thing I remember very clearly about Dianne, she liked to get things done quickly (a girl after my own heart!). I remember as CEO of Coast Capital Savings, I went to show her the plans for our new purpose built head office to be constructed at the terminus of the Skytrain. She loved the ‘quirky’ unique design that was all about the Coast brand and that we were committed to and contributing to the revitalization of the City. The only thing she didn’t like was the timing…which was 3 years. Dianne Watts immediately asked how can we get it done faster…and I laughed inwardly because I had asked the exact same question about one week earlier when I had the plans put before me! Things moved faster because of Dianne’s support and the fact that we had the same goals as the Mayor to make sure ‘the future lives here’. Thanks Dianne, it has always been a pleasure to work with you!”
Even today Dianne Watts works towards clearly defined goals. She always operates with a vision in mind and this focus put everybody on the same path, going the same direction. The result is always a team-oriented approach, people-focused public policy and a communal understanding of where the city was going and how it was going to get there.
Her biggest and strongest points are her willingness to work with anyone toward a common goal, her work ethic and her commitment to being unapologetically herself – like it or not.
While the city continues to move on under the new leadership of Mayor Linda Hepner, Dianne’s personal presence is missed in the community.
When asking people about their individual encounters with Dianne, they mentioned their general sense of having a good friend that moved far away and how much they miss her.
Supporting change to benefit the lives of people is a big motivator for Dianne, as Bev Johnson tells it.
“Dianne was a very personable mayor who connected well with the people of Surrey. We had her come to speak a few years ago at a seniors’ luncheon at Cedar Grove Church when my husband Ross pastored there. I was to welcome her at the front entrance and was so surprised to see her walking across the parking lot from her car. I had expected that she would have a driver and told her that. She was surprised that I would think she wouldn’t drive herself to the church! She is so down to earth and lovely. Following her excellent talk about seniors’ issues she didn’t rush off, but visited with various people, even posing for photos. It was a privilege to meet her. I feel that she truly cares about the people she serves.”
When asked about a special moment she had as mayor, Dianne told of one of her encounters with a homeless person outside Safeway. When he spotted her exiting her car, he began excitedly exclaiming…
“Dianne is here, Dianne is here. The mayor is here.” He approached her and gave her a big hug. She recounted the story with a smile. It is fitting that of all her great moments as mayor, this is the moment that she remembers as being important and worthy of retelling.
“I was so touched by that. It was so sweet and that really touched my heart. It really did. That moment that we connected and it was pretty special.”
Ellie King of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company tells of a meeting she had with the Mayor and Council. After being asked if she could delay a pre-scheduled meeting with the mayor for an hour, she told Dianne that her mother was dying and that she really needed to get to the hospital. Dianne immediately got up from her chair and hugged her. It was unexpected and Ellie was very moved by the human gesture of comfort.
“You don’t expect to be hugged by the mayor.”
The next day she was even more touched by the bouquet of flowers that arrived from Dianne.
“Not Mayor Dianne Watts – just Dianne.”
As Beverley Brooke Bly recalls,
“10 years ago while Dianne was on city council, I sat with her and Judy Villeneuve at a Surrey Board of Trade Annual golf tournament. Everyone was happy, laughing, telling jokes and talking about their golf game. Dianne treated everyone to a pink tequila rose drink. Years later, I was at a gala that Deepak Chopra keynoted at the Pan Pacific Hotel, I spotted Dianne sitting at a table behind me. I went over and introduced myself, she was very warm and inviting and I told her the golf story. I told her I appreciated all she did for Surrey whilst Mayor. She thanked me and was very nice.”
She is a business powerhouse with a whole lot of heart.
As a member of the first Parliament run with strong female representation, when asked if she thinks women make better politicians than men, she responded:
“I think it is different. I don’t think any one way is better than the other, it’s just different. Men and women approach things in a different way. When you have a combination of both, it strengthens the process. We have had a majority of women on council since 1996 so I have had the benefit of working mostly with women. We work differently. There is strength on both sides.
It is important for women to be in positions of power in government because what is important to women may not be as important to men and they may look at things through a different lens. I would like to see more women involved.
In 1996 when I entered politics, we had the majority of women on council right up to today. It is interesting because people think that is an anomaly, but for me it is just natural and it happened that way because I think we have a lot of strong women in the community, women that are very engaged however, it is incumbent upon us to encourage other women to take public office. We need to mentor them or help them. I am not a fan of the quota system because I don’t think we are quotas. I think we have enough experience and knowledge in our communities to get there on our own. Surrey is a prime example of that. We don’t have a quota system and we still have a lot of women very engaged in this system.”
When talking about representation, women make up half of the country, so it makes sense for them to be represented in government – but what about other cultures? We don’t see the same mix of cultures in government on any level, local, provincial or federal.
Dianne says, “It is not for a lack of being engaged in the community because we had several people with different backgrounds that have run for office. Locally, we have had representation on council from the Indo Canadian community, both women and men.
I don’t think the current mix really represents all cultures because we have a lot of different communities with large populations that don’t have a direct seat at the table. I think it is a matter of really mentoring people and bringing them along to get them to that point.”
Moving from city politics to federal politics is a giant leap. For most of us, she simply fell off the radar. Hidden in the caverns of Parliament Hill, our once vibrant leader has disappeared into the hallowed halls of Federal politics. Although she is the critic for Infrastructure and Communities as well as sitting on the Public Safety and National Security Committee, she is missed locally as a once visible and involved Mayor.
Dianne speaks warmly of her time in Ottawa.
“The commute is very trying because you are taking red eye flights and you get in at 2:00 AM in the morning, which because of the time change makes the hours extraordinarily long. When you are in Ottawa, the house sits; and then you have committee work. If you are in the house, you have house duty; and then you have caucus meetings afterwards and then you have the community that wants to come in – those from your riding that are traveling and the organizations that want to meet. You often don’t get home for dinner until 9:30 – 10 o’clock at night, and this on a regular basis.
Then, when I come back here, it is a little bit more flexible. It is like having two full time jobs. There isn’t a lot of down time; so that is a challenge especially with family.
I enjoy the work and the debates we have in the house. I am the critic for Infrastructure and Communities. I also sit on the Public Safety and National Security Committee. The work is interesting and I enjoy the international work as well.”
While she misses the personal connection with the people of Surrey, she feels that this challenge puts her in a position to make the biggest difference in the lives of Canadians, not just in Surrey but worldwide.
“I honestly wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t feel that I was making a difference. There are issues that I have brought forward There are issues that we collectively as a caucus have brought forward which impact people internationally. One example would be the plight of the Yiziadis women; or my colleagues bringing forward the national framework on Palliative care. Wayne’s Law that we just brought forward saw Mrs. Winn in the audience when that law passed. It was her husband who was the police officer killed. There are a lot of things that we bring forward affecting change so in that context, yes, I wouldn’t be there if I thought for a minute that I wasn’t making a difference.
Conservative MP’s called for immediate action to resettle members of the endangered Iraqi minority group known as the Yiziadis and the Liberal Canadian Immigration Minister John McCallum has indicated the governments commitment to bringing more Yazidi refugees to Canada in the coming months.
Bill S-217, dubbed “David Wynn’s Law,” would require the Crown to disclose the criminal history of the accused at a bail hearing. It was the result of an impassioned testimony from Shelley Wynn, the wife of the late police officer killed in the line of duty by a serial offender.
As Mayor, Dianne was known for being personable and approachable, which is a great quality to have in a Mayor but how well does it work under the oppositional system of the federal government?
Dianne said the parties work together more than people realize but she believes in an oppositional system.
“I would say that you need an opposition to hold the government to account. It is the way in which it functions. I think that you can’t have government running amuck, raising taxes whenever they want. There needs to be an effective opposition.
In terms of working together I would say that at a committee level there is a lot of work that gets done. Committees include all parties, the government, the official opposition and the third party opposition and we all work together.
The public just sees us interacting during question period; and they think that is how we function and it really isn’t. For example as the critic for national infrastructure, I want to look at a study around the rail alignments and the stabilization of the slopes – not only just here but other applications as well.
It goes to the committee, and all parties look at it and have some recommendations. We had all of the folks in from the different rail lines speak, and the committee, working together, makes the recommendation.
On the framework for national security, we are looking at everything from prisons to how to keep Canadians safe. As in any negotiation, there are things that the government wants, there are things that the opposition wants and we come together and compromise. You don’t always get everything you want but you work together to hammer out an agreement.”
As to what the future holds, Dianne Watts gives her standard ‘you-never-know’ answer.
“I miss being on the front line and really entrenched in the community. I did my time as mayor and it was almost a decade. I was happy when I made my decision that it was time for me to move on to another chapter in my life but I miss the relationships because being in Ottawa and going back and forth, you are not as engaged on the front lines as you have been. It’s a very different challenge.
I don’t know what the future holds. Right now, I am going back and forth to Ottawa, I have been elected for a four year term and we will see what happens at that junction.”
Dianne Watts is a role model for young women interested in entering challenging careers while not giving up the dream of having a healthy family life. When asked what advice she would give to young women trying to have it all, she responded,
“We try to be all things to all people. That is in our nature. We want to nurture everybody. We can’t. It takes us a long time to get to the point of understanding that we need to nurture ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves then we can’t take care of anybody else. Whether our kids or our career, it all comes down to taking care of ourselves, first. If you are absolutely drained of energy, how can you give that to anybody else?
We need to learn to say ‘no’, more often. When I was first elected Mayor, I said ‘yes ‘ to everything. I hit a wall pretty quickly.
You can have everything you want, but you might not get it all at once. You have to lay out your priorities.”
When asked if she did a good job of self-care, her first response was a slightly guilty laugh.
“I am getting better. If I am not feeling well, I will take time to rest which I never did before.”
Part of self-care is taking time for the pleasures of live. Dianne’s greatest joy in life is her daughters, her pets, her love of travel and her friends.
“You birth these beautiful children and you are so responsible for them. They are everything in your world and the centre of everything and watching them, as they grow older. My daughters are young women now at 21 and 23. Watching them evolve into these amazing young women is extraordinarily joyful for me. I am in awe of that whole process over all of those years.
I also really enjoy my animals. I have three dogs and two cats.
I really love to travel. I have traveled all over the world and I am very blessed to be able to do that.
Wherever Dianne’s travels take her, a few things are certain. She still lives by the core philosophies she had as mayor of Surrey. She has a willingness to work with anyone toward a common goal; she still carries her strong work ethic and she is still unapologetically committed to being herself.
“I do a lot of self analysis. I have been a Buddhist for twenty-three years and part of living within the contexts of the Buddhist philosophy is doing the self-examination which means not allowing your ego to dictate who you are. You have to be an authentic person with integrity and you need to live your life that way.
I watch very carefully the way I speak – it’s never about me. It’s about a collective group of people that are going down a road to effect change. When I speak, I always make sure that it is ‘we’ and not ’ I.’
I surround myself with people who are not afraid to tell me the truth. I create an atmosphere of approachability so people can come say anything they want to me. “
Thank you Dianne Watts. On behalf of the people of Surrey, for your leadership, your authenticity and your heart inspired work ethic as you move with our teams of elected officials towards a better world.
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.
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.
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 shervancouver.com.
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 dcrs.ca.
NORMA LIZE, WINNER
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, FIRST RUNNER UP
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, SECOND RUNNER UP
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 PATEL, HONOURABLE MENTION
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.
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.
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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