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From Dentist to Health Care Assistant: The Story of Starting Over

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Starting over in a new country is a difficult and overwhelming process. It can turn life into a powerful mix of emotions ranging from terrifying to exhilarating – uncertainties, new language, new people, new places, new habits, and, all too often, new careers.

A significant number of residents in our city have made Surrey their first Canadian home, and are starting fresh with new opportunity and challenges. Meet Mariano Rivera, a Dentist originally from the Philippines, who, after seeking opportunities all over the world, decided to make Surrey his new home with his wife and 2 children. After coming to Canada, Mariano began exploring a new career path since his Dental training was not recognized here. When we asked Mariano about his experiences and the challenges of starting over, this is what he shared with us.

How did you decide to become a Health Care Assistant (HCA)?

I really liked working in health services and wasn’t happy with the idea of working outside  the industry. I wanted to stay in a field where I could help people, work with patients and make a difference.

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What were some of the initial fears you had?

I had a lot of concerns about finding the right job, one where I could be successful and there wouldn’t be too much competition making it hard to get work. I was also worried about finding the right school where I would fit in. When you are new to a country, cultural differences and communication are always a concern. I wanted to make sure that the industry I chose and the school I went to would make that less of an issue.

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How did you overcome those challenges?

I am a positive person so the first thing I did was to always think, ‘If someone else can do it, I can do it best!’ The school also helped as the training program included the areas that I was concerned about most; culture and communication. The fact that I could also finish is such a short period of time and still work in health services in a good job, made me feel like I made the right choice.

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How did you find out about Pacific Coast Community College?

I did a lot of online research and finally found Pacific Coast Community College. When I met with the college I really liked the way that the they treated me during the information session, there seemed to be real respect and I was treated like a person and not a number.

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How was the training process?

It’s been an eye-opening experience to learning the true nature of being a caregiver The course covers everything and makes you really think. At the beginning the program was challenging, but by clinical I felt more comfortable and that I knew what I was doing. This is very different from what I did as a dentist, but when I finally started working with patients again it made me more sure of my new career path.

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Can you compare the training you had at Pacific College with your previous training?

The dental program I took was very heavy on the sciences and much more of an academic program. It was also just focused on one area of the body; the mouth and head. But the Health Care Assistant program at Pacific Coast Community College is much more holistic. In some ways since it’s a vocational program; it’s less challenging but it covered a lot more about the human body and how people behave which made it interesting.

We also chatted with Laila Pittalwala, HCA Program Instructor and Senior Education Administrator at Pacific Coast Community College about Mariano’s experience during the training, and she told us, “Like many of our students beginning a brand-new career path, Mariano found the program challenging to start, but once he got to clinical component things started to click for him and he really excelled. He has a way with the clients that will make him an excellent HCA!”

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What was the outcome of your training?

It’s looking pretty positive as I already have a job offer before even completing the program! I am looking forward to working in the industry as a caregiver and am excited about my new career.

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Would you recommend Pacific College to others who are starting again?

Yes I would! You must find the right people to teach you, as that makes all the difference. I believe that the staff at Pacific Coast Community College are the right people to learn from if you want to be a Health Care Assistant.

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What are you most looking forward to in your new career path?

Excelling in the profession and giving my clients the best treatment and care 

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What are you hoping for in your future?

Success for my kids in Canada. I really want my kids to get good educations and have good lives. For me and my wife I want a simple life, where we can help our community and our family. Starting a new career is always a challenge but if you find the right one it can make all the difference in your life. If you’d like learn more about opportunities in the healthcare sector for individuals looking for a new career path, check out Pacific Coast Community College online at pacificcoastcommunitycollege.com.

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Surrey604 is an online magazine and media outlet based in Surrey, BC. Through writing, video, photography, and social media, we secure an intimate reach to the public. We promote local events and causes.

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Armaan Chohan joins DFSIN BC

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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: www.perminderchohanfoundation.com
For more information on DFSIN BC, please visit: https://www.dfsin.ca/bc#main-content

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

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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.

BACKGROUNDER

Winners’ Biographies

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.

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Interview with DJ Heer for the Canucks Diwali Night

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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

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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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Is Your House Haunted? Call Paranormal Spectrum Investigations BC

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paranormal investigations bc

The definition of the word paranormal is that which can not be explained by science. But what is the paranormal? Sure, the first thing that comes to mind is ghosts or spirits. But there is so much more to it than just that. In fact, there is quite a broad spectrum to the subject and there really is quite a bit that science can’t explain. That’s where Paranormal Spectrum Investigations BC comes in.

We are a non-profit team of paranormal investigators that have many years of experience investigating and researching the paranormal field. The team is co-founded by friends, Aimée Bucholtz and Mike Lutke. Aimée brings over 10 years experience as a lead investigator, researcher and case manager. Mike comes to the team with 3 years of investigative experience as a lead investigator and social media manager. Both of us have an unparalleled passion for not only the paranormal but also for helping people find answers for things that go bump in the night (or day). It’s our goal to do what it takes in order for our clients to feel comfortable in their homes or businesses. ]

We like to take a scientific approach using some of the latest paranormal investigative tools but also keep it simple by using some very common household items. We are not afraid to try new methods of investigation nor will we dismiss theories and ideas that have not proven to work well in the past. It’s our ideology that just because something didn’t work before doesn’t mean it won’t work now. When it comes to the paranormal, the more creative you are, the better. At least that’s what we believe.

Our team also has a healthy dose of skepticism and belief in the paranormal. But, that being said, we’ve had enough unexplained events happen to us that it keeps us coming back for more. We’ve been touched by unseen presences, heard disembodied voices and seen things with our own eyes that many would not believe unless they were there too. And this is all in the confines of the Lower Mainland area!! To say that this region is a paranormal hot spot would be an understatement.

While it is not up to us to tell our clients if their home or business is “haunted”, we will provide them with peace of mind and some suggestions on what we believe may be the cause of their concerns. Sometimes all it is, is an overactive imagination or noisy pipes in the walls!

Our team is the newest to join the paranormal landscape in the Lower Mainland. We are based in the Surrey/Langley area, but also willing and able to accept possible residential, historical or business investigations in other communities in the region. We plan to begin operations on October 1st.

For those that would like to follow along and see what the team is up to or just have a general interest in the paranormal, we can be found on Twitter @ParanormalSI_BC on Instagram @paranormalspectrumbc and on Facebook at Paranormal Spectrum Investigations British Columbia. We can also be found on the web at https://www.paranormalspectruminvestigationsbc.com where we provide information for everyone’s paranormal needs in Surrey and the rest of the Lower Mainland.

Not to sound like a certain movie from the 80’s but if there is something strange in your neighbourhood… well, we will leave the rest up to you but we wouldn’t rule out being contacted. We are Paranormal Spectrum Investigations BC and we are ready to help find answers for you.

~ Mike Lutke

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