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Diwali in B.C.: A Conversation With Artistic Director, Rohit Chokhani

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A Culturally-Relevant Celebration of Diwali

Mumbai-native, Rohit Chokhani, is bringing a new province-wide Diwali celebration to the streets of Metro Vancouver. The idea behind the artistic platform, Diwali in B.C., according to Chokhani, is “not to recreate the Indian celebration of Diwali but to celebrate the new year and South Asian culture in a way that is inclusive and welcoming of other cultures that represent Metro Vancouver.” He felt it important to produce something non-denominational so that anyone of any background who felt drawn to the theatre, dance and film performances could be a part of the conversation. Diwali in B.C. is coming to life through various events taking place from October 14 – November 16, 2017.

When Chokhani left India at the age of 22 for the United States and then Canada, he missed the experiences of celebrating what is also known as the Festival of Lights with family and friends. That personal desire to connect his upbringing with his new identity as an immigrant in the Western world was the catalyst for this initiative. Using his artistic voice as a director and producer was a natural vehicle to pursue this inspiration.

On Shakti, or Feminine Power

The program he has curated centres on the theme of shakti, or feminine power. When asked about the origin of this theme, Chokhani recalled, “There are a few criteria I always watch out for because diversity and inclusivity is very important, so I always program a festival making sure that there is a good distribution of gender equity around it, and I also make sure all cultures are represented…even within the South Asian landscape.” Interestingly, all the works that grabbed his attention this year were put out by women, making the theme ‘feminine power’ come to surface almost on its own. This aligns with Chokhani’s Eastern philosophy which includes the belief that the Divine comes in masculine and feminine forms, just as people – regardless of gender – have masculine and feminine energies.

Important Cultural Conversations Through Art

This spiritual element became the perfect backdrop for cultural conversations around sex trafficking (Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan), society’s responsibility in encouraging certain destructive masculine behaviours (Anatomy of Violence), healing after abuse (Happy Place) and indigenous stories from India that make one reflect on Canadian topics such as reconciliation (Encounter), to name a few. Each performance has the incredible mandate to showcase the capability of women and “leave you with a deeper question that makes you think about life and maybe eventually help you grow as an individual or community,” according to Chokhani.

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Image Credit: Kyle Rosenberg

In addition to creating space for these important topics through Diwali in B.C., Chokhani also invests in a secondary project, Project SAT, which he describes as a platform for the next generation of theatre makers. For those who are interested in writing, directing and producing, there are numerous workshops designed to help bring dreams to life. Some of these will be held in conjunction with the Diwali initiative.

For more information about Diwali in B.C. and Jessie Richardson Theatre Award-winner Rohit Chokhani, please visit www.diwalibc.ca.

 

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Rohit Chokhani www.diwalibc.ca

Taslim combines her love of writing and social change by telling the stories that build bridges among people. Her motivating forces are her 3 children and her INFJ personality. Taslim is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Canada and Yummy Mummy Club, and a columnist for Peace Arch News. She has romantic notions of travel writing across European countrysides and historic African towns but her heart belongs to Surrey, B.C. You can connect with Taslim on Twitter and Instagram @taslimjaffer.

Events

Surrey fruit trees neglected no more: Sources Food Hub offers free pruning workshop

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To kick off the 2020 growing season, Sources Food Hub is offering a new and free resource. Fruit tree owners in Surrey are invited to attend a pruning workshop to learn how to take better care of their fruit-bearing trees while supporting our community at the same time.

This workshop, to be held on January 25 (1 to 3 p.m.) at the Historic Stewart Farm in South Surrey, is part of Sources Food Hub’s Community Harvest Program – a gleaning service to actively rescue food that might otherwise be wasted.

“During the growing season in Surrey and with the support of volunteers, we pick plums, apples and other fruit from the trees of residences and farms, who are unable or too busy to harvest it or simply happy to donate the fresh food,” said Denise Darrell, Executive Director of Community Services at SOURCES.

Tree owners can keep one-third of the harvest if they want, and the rest is distributed to local charities including Sources White Rock/South Surrey Food Bank, where fresh produce can be challenging to provide for the more than 600 people who use their services each week.

“The harvested produce that our Food Bank receives from the Food Hub is a blessing, as it allows us to offer healthy, fresh choices to the people who come to us for help. It’s a win-win – the tree owners also stand to gain from healthier trees, better fruit, and bigger yields,” Darrell said.

Interested fruit tree owners are asked to contact foodhub@sourcesbc.ca or 604-596-0973 to register for the workshop. Residents who are interested in becoming a volunteer or donating the fruit from their trees to the Sources Food Hub this summer are also encouraged to get in touch. Learn more about Sources Food Hub at www.sourcesfoodhub.ca

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DID YOU KNOW?

In Canada, most recent estimates set the annual waste of edible food, across the farm to fork system, at about 11 million tons. Divide that number by Surrey’s population, and edible food waste in Surrey equals almost 170 million pounds each year. That’s enough to feed half of Surrey’s population for the next year!

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Events

DFSIN BC Excellence Awards A Fun Filled Event

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B.C. philanthropist and businessman Perminder Chohan, Managing Director of the Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN) BC, organized the annual DFSIN BC Excellence Awards on January 4th, 2020 to recognize and celebrate the achievements of his advisors at Dhaliwal Banquet Hall in Surrey, BC. The gala took off with a VIP reception for the advisors and some respected members of the community.

The evening was filled with fun, great food as many advisors were recognized and awarded for their achievements and milestones in the network.

Chohan made a special announcement about presenting his son, Armaan Chohan with a new title of Vice President of Sales and Business Development of DFSIN BC.

There were many special dance performances to entertain the guests, followed by everyone enjoying some good times on the dance floor, moving to the tunes of some upbeat Bollywood and Punjabi music.

More about DFSIN BC:      https://www.dfsin.ca/bc#main-content

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Events

2019 Christmas Shopping in Surrey

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Fairy lights, Christmas carols all around, its the time for Christmas. And it feels magical. It gets better when Surrey fills with scores of events where you can delight your senses. So, if you are behind on Christmas shopping or cannot seem to find the perfect gift, you are in luck. You can get a ton of gifts and memories from these events. And while you are at it, you can borrow some ideas on decorating your home in readiness for Christmas. So whether you are looking for Christmas gifts for her, or hoping to bathe in Christmas anticipation, you are sorted for this holiday. Venues in and around Surrey will have events running one after the other, leading up to this joyous day. Here are some of the places you can visit in preparation for the holidays:

Glow: Indoor Christmas Festival

From 21st November, people living in Surrey and its environs have been able to take part in the largest indoor Christmas Festival. It takes place in Vancouver, and it will be in full gear up to 5th January 2020. That means you get enough time to glow and get Christmas presents for your loved ones.

This event will run for forty days, and it is all about having illuminated fun at the Harbor Convention Center. If you want a way to bond with your loved ones while seeking shelter from the cold, this is it. The arena spreads over a whopping 50,000 square feet, presenting an ideal environment for family and friends.

The theme for 2019 is Santa’s Lost Presents, and kids will have fun searching for clues in the trails. As they do this, adults can enjoy live music and drinks by the bars. At least one point five million guests will grace this event. What a delight!

Charity Gift Wrap Centre

From 7th December 2019 through to the 24th, you can have your gifts wrapped at the Charity Gift Wrap Center. It is part of a charity event, and all the proceeds from the sales will go to the Surrey Food Bank. Lions’ charities will also benefit from the same. Thus, you get to hit two birds with one stone. You give back and put a smile on your loved ones’ faces at the same time. Wrapping starts at two pounds, and you will find a wide selection of bag options.

Photos With Santa

This tradition never gets old, and you are probably reminiscing those days you sat on Santa’s lap. What was it you wanted back then? Did you get it? Well, Santa is around this year and has been as of 15th November. The fellow will be taking photos with the naughty and nice children till Christmas Eve at Central City Mall. You have ample time to come up with a wish list by then and present it to him. Have you been nice?

This year, Santa will be taking family photos, and you can book your place online. All you have to do is show up with your loved ones, not forgetting your pets. They, too, are family and should be part of the memories. Santa Land will be abuzz with activity at the mall center near Tim Hortons. Note, though, that he will operate during select hours. So you had best make it to the venue while he’s around. You can also book an evening photo session for your pets with the man in red. How cute is that!

There are many other events you can attend. Holiday shopping in Surrey has never been this easy and fun. Be sure to join in!

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You’re Invited To The Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy Wrap-Up Event

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It’s no doubt that climate change is a hot topic (no pun intended) and it should be. The proof we have of the planet’s rising temperature and Nature’s response to it is undeniable. We are proud to be living in a city that not only accepts our dire situation but proactively works to alleviate further destruction. One of the ways the City of Surrey is by developing a Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy (CFAS) through a multi-phase community driven process. Over a busy and productive 3 years, the City has been helping residents, businesses and communities prepare for a changing climate in various capacities.

One of the initiatives of this program was to explore ways to increase the resilience of coastal communities, like Crescent Beach. We are happy to share that the CFAS is now complete.

Over 2000 people including residents, stakeholders, partners and international experts participated in CFAS. Join fellow Surrey residents and supporters on at the CFAS Wrap-Up Event Thursday November 28, 2019 from 5 pm to 7 pm at the South Surrey Rotary Fieldhouse at 2197 148 St. Learn more about the strategy and 13 capital projects that the city will be taking immediate action on to improve flood resilience within the coastal floodplain.

Surrey Wins Climate & Energy Action Award for CFAS

On September 25, 2019, the City of Surrey was awarded the Climate & Energy Action Award by the Community Energy Association for its leadership on climate resilience. Our city is the inaugural winner of the new Climate Adaptation award category for the Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy and we couldn’t be more proud.

We know our readers are concerned about the environment and curious about what we as individuals and communities can do to protect our homes and businesses from rising sea levels, as we work toward lessening the damage incurred to our planet. We encourage you to take part in these civic dialogues to better understand how our City’s planning and implementation fulfills these needs.

Learn more about the CFAS Wrap-Up Event and mark Thursday November 28 on your calendar!

 

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Surrey Tree Lighting Festival is Bigger and Brighter than ever

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Free family event offers new light displays and Youth Dance Showcase feature

Surrey, B.C. – Surrey Tree Lighting Festival, presented by Coast Capital Savings, announced today the new attractions guests can expect to see at this year’s free annual event. Additional attractions include a Light Tunnel, Enchanted Forest, Candy Cane Dance Tent, North Pole Stage, expanded Holiday Market and Village and a variety of new light installations. Surrey’s 60ft tall Christmas tree will light up at 6:30 p.m. live on CTV.

The entrance to the Holiday Fun Zone on University Drive will now include a Light Tunnel where guests can walk through and take photos. The area will also offer magical features and activities including an Enchanted Forest of illuminated trees and a Candy Cane Dance tent with an LED dance floor. Additionally, visitors can escape the cold and enjoy family-friendly and festive holiday activities in the Holiday Market and Village tent located on Civic Plaza. The tent will feature over 30 local vendors and crafters, activations, live performances and new interactive light features.

In partnership with Surrey Youth Dance Services, this year’s free event will feature pop up breakdance performances and dance showcases throughout the day. A 30-minute breakdance battle with a live DJ set will take place at 4pm at the Candy Cane Dance Tent where youth are encouraged to participate to win prizes. Located on University Drive, the North Pole Stage will showcase a blend of hip-hop and breakdancing acts alongside cultural dance performances including Indigenous youth group Kwel Eng Sen Dancers, the Mexican Dance Ensemble and female dance group Brazilian Swag.

“With the continuing growth of Surrey’s youth dance community, we are thrilled that we can offer a platform for youth to showcase their talent. We have some gifted youth in our community, and what better time to bring them together than the holidays,” says Mary Rukavina, Manager of Special Events and Film. “With the addition of the youth dance showcase, spectacular light displays and expanded features this year, Surrey’s Tree Lighting Festival will be one of the most memorable holiday traditions to attend.”

Additional highlights include a Ferris Wheel, live music, amusement rides, inflatables, family activities, road hockey, children’s crafts and cookie decorating at the Just Cakes Treat Zone located in the Holiday Market & Village Tent.

Surrey Tree Lighting takes place on Saturday November 23, 2019 at Surrey Civic Plaza. To allow for additional viewings of the light features, the festival will run an hour later from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information and performance schedules visit www.surrey.ca/treelighting.

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