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.
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.
Internationally awarded youth led Surrey based organization puts on successful online conference in-spite of COVID
SPARK Foundation Canada has hosted their, first of many, fully virtual conference Leaders Today! SPARK foundation is a non-profit organization made up of 16-23 year old leaders empowering the next generation through in person, and online life education: workshops, camps and community programs. They also work towards accomplishing the United Nations sustainable development goals: Quality Education, Sustainable Cities & Communities, Climate Action and Peace Justice and Strong Institutions!
The live event took place on Sunday November 15, with guest speakers Anjali Dhaliwal and Abhay Sachal. The audience hailed from all over the lower mainland ranging from students as young as 13 to 21.
Sarah Cheng, Volunteer Engagement Lead & Srusti Subash, Marketing Lead along with the efforts of Rochelle Prasad, CEO/ Co-Founder of SPARK Foundation, have meticulously organised this conference for youth in High School and University. It centered around an idea to inspire youth to engage in their communities amidst the pandemic despite the restrictions imposed on traditional volunteering opportunities.
Anjali Dhaliwal, CEO of Youth Helping Youth, was the first speaker introducing the importance of personal branding. She spoke intimately of personal experiences that led to her growth and success encouraging the conference attendees to explore new things and find their passion.
Abhay Sachal, spoke about his journey to the Arctic that incited the urge to create an international organization advocating for climate justice where he became Co-Founder of Break The Divide. Through various activities connecting with their audience, both speakers were exceptional in delivering their thoughts and empowering those watching.
The conference ran for 2 and a half hours with a fun activity midway through where participants were placed in breakout sessions and given the prompt: if your team owned a cookie shop, what would they name it? This activity brought about a variety of responses developed from imaginative or analytical points of view.
When the audience was asked what they thought of the event, responses were overwhelmingly positive. Viewers spoke on how the conference impacted them where they’ve realised “Climate change has inequitable impacts on marginalized and minority communities. Leadership requires truly genuine passion for building a better community, nation, and world because we want to make everything better than how we found it.”
Aside from this conference, SPARK Foundation has provided youth across Canada volunteering opportunities through their General Ambassador Program which focuses on media and marketing, a skill set that has become extremely important to this generation.
SPARK Foundation has also contributed to their communities by organizing several Covid Relief Projects by delivering over 300 care packages of essential items to low income families and over 200 meals to essential workers in Surrey, BC.
For future events or more information visit www.sparkfoundation.ca
2020 Vancouver Queer Film Festival Shifts to Digital Platform
Out On Screen Announces Interim Executive Director, Festival Dates, Gala Films, & Creative Design Tickets on Sale July 13 at queerfilmfestival.ca
(Vancouver, B.C.) – Out On Screen is proud to present a virtual Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF) this summer from Thursday, August 13 to Sunday, August 23, 2020. Announced today, VQFF and Out On Screen as a whole will be guided by the leadership of new Interim Executive Director, Brandon Yan. Brandon has served as Out On Screen’s Deputy Executive Director and was previously the Director of Education for Out In Schools.
“I am more than delighted to continue to be of service to Out On Screen and the communities I so deeply care about,” says Yan. “In times like these, the importance of art and storytelling is even more apparent. We must remain committed to being a platform to uplift and celebrate the LGBT2Q+ stories at the margins.”
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 32nd annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival has adapted to an online format in order to offer at-home audiences the best in independent queer cinema along with workshops, artist Q&As, panels, parties and – most importantly – the feeling of gathering with friends and kin.
Out On Screen is working hard to ensure this year’s Festival is accessible and safe for community members who are immunocompromised or part of another vulnerable sector. Tickets for VQFF 2020 will be available to the public on July 13 at www.queerfilmfestival.ca. Tickets range in price from $10 to $14 with a special COVID19 access pricing ranging from $2-$5.
Curated by Artistic Director, Anoushka Ratnarajah, the theme of this year’s Festival is “Still Here”. “VQFF is on this August, and will feature films and interdisciplinary programming from queer filmmakers and artists whose work shows the many ways we fight for the fullness of our lives, for what and who we love, and for our shared futures,” says Ratnarajah. “Our theme this year is ‘Still Here’, because our survival is an inevitable miracle. Nothing can stop us from taking root; we will always reach for the light and sky.”
Illuminating and celebrating LGBTQ2+ lives in all their dimensions and complexity, VQFF is Vancouver’s second largest film festival and the largest queer arts event in Western Canada. Welcoming its presenting sponsor RBC once again, this year’s Festival will open on August 13th with a soon to be announced Opening Gala film and a virtual celebration of our local queer community.
The Festival’s Centrepiece Gala film is Lingua Franca, an ambitious feature film that follows a trans Filipina migrant as she navigates being undocumented in a Trump-era America. The film is written, directed by and stars trans actress Isabel Sandoval, who will join audiences virtually to discuss the film in a digital Q&A.
VQFF will once again feature a variety of youth focused programming, including a Youth Gala screening of the inspirational documentary Changing The Game, which follows three boundary-breaking young trans athletes changing the face of sports in their communities and across the United States.
The Festival will continue to celebrate B.C.’s most standout emerging and established filmmakers with Festival favourite, The Coast is Queer – an evening dedicated to local talent. Finally, this year’s VQFF will close with the heartwarming queer Muslim romantic comedy, Breaking Fast, directed by Mike Mosallam.
The 2020 VQFF program will be available online at www.queerfilmfestival.ca on July 13, 2020.
For more information, please visit the following platforms:
3 Way to Celebrate Father’s Day this weekend!
Why not crack a cold one & fire up the grill with dad, and serve up a feast with Stanley Park Brewing’s do-it-yourself BBQ Kit? They’ll prep all the ingredients and you’ll do all the cookin’. And they’ve partnered with Filson to add a little something to keep your dad’s beer cold on Father’s Day. Receive one insulated stainless-steel can cooler with your kit. *While supplies last.
Order your Father’s Day BBQ Kit here: https://stanleyparkbrewstore.com/products/fathers-day-bbq-kit-with-filson-gift. Kits are available for 2, 4, and 6 people. Depending on the size of kit, you will receive a mix of the following at different quantities: lemon and herb marinated chicken, 8oz steaks, burgers with all the fixings (6 person kit only), Sunsetter baked beans, child lime roasted corn, sweet potato salad, coleslaw, and homemade cornbread.
Finish off your order by adding on a 6-pack of your choice. Our recommended beer pairing would be Stanley Park Brewing’s new Waypoint Hazy Pale Ale!
Note: All orders must be placed by 3pm on Wednesday, June 17th. Packages are available for pick-up at Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub on Saturday, June 20th or Sunday, June 21st.
Looking to take Dad out to celebrate? The Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant and Brewpub will be having a special dine-in only Father’s Day Feast Menu for $38 per person. You can also add a pint of flight of your choice for only $5.75 (happy hour pricing)! The menu includes: Pretzel with spicy mustard and Noble Pilsner beer cheese, half a pound of Chicken Wings, Halibut n Chips with coleslaw, and a Cheesecake by The Cheesecake Factory Bakery for dessert.
Want to give Dad some TLC?
Filson and Fortknight Barbers, two Gastown staples, have teamed up to help you give dad a gift he’s going to love. We all need a little TLC as we re-enter the world after our little time-out and what better way than with a stylish professional haircut and a brand new Button up shirt. On top of that a very special gift from Stanley Park Brewing.
Here’s how it works:
01. Dad books a time for a haircut with Fortknight Barbers. Capacity is limited due to safety protocols, so please book this appointment first. Fortknight Barbers | 46 Alexander St | 604-620-7930
02. Call Filson to schedule a private shopping time either before or after your cut. They have set up the space in the back of the store just for private shopping and a sanitized fitting room will be reserved for you. Filson | 47 Water St |604-689-1836
03. Your shirt, along with any other purchases, will be steamed for sanitization and packaged along with your special gift of a 6-pack of Waypoint Hazy Pale Ale from Stanley Park Brewing. You can either take it with you from Filson, or they will deliver it to you at Fortknight once you’ve been all cleaned up.
This package is $140 including all taxes and is available for purchase through either the Filson or Fortknight Barbers locations. They will provide you with a certificate at time of purchase that will need to be presented at each establishment to redeem. While the Filson location will be open only for curbside pickup prior to Father’s Day, you can call ahead and pay for it and then they will hand you the certificate at the front door when you arrive, or they can mail it to you if you prefer.
This package is a great way to treat yourself, a friend, a dad or any guy you know that just needs a little pampering. Quantities are limited, so please order today.
The Punjabi Market Goes Virtual for its 50th Anniversary
- May 31st, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Vancouver’s Punjabi Market
- The Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective presents “PM50” on May 31st
- “PM50” will be a virtual celebration, streamed on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram
- The Punjabi Market Regeneration is a registered nonprofit organization that seeks to revitalize the Punjabi Market in Vancouver thus facilitating opportunities for cultural belonging and also economic success for business owners
Vancouver, B.C. – To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Punjabi Market, The Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective presents “PM50”, taking place virtually on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube on Sunday, May 31st, 2020. Hosted by Hockey Night in Punjabi’s Amrit Gill, the livestream will feature an interview with the Market’s first shop owner, Mr. Sucha Singh Claire, and performances by Shaan-e-Punjab, Nachiye, and Amarjeet and Baljit Singh.
The Punjabi Market runs along Main Street, from 49th to 51st, and is the oldest “Little India” in North America. In 1983, the Punjabi Market became home to the world’s first set of street signs written in Punjabi script outside of India. Michael Lee, MLA for Vancouver-Langara opined that “[the] Punjabi Market is an important part of the historical and cultural history of both the city of Vancouver and of my riding, Vancouver-Langara.
Since the first store opened in 1971, the Punjabi Market has been considered a place to support cultural identity as is demonstrated every year by the sheer number of upwards of 100,000 attendees at the annual Vaisakhi Parade through the Punjabi Market.”
The 50th Anniversary celebration will include an online shopping portal that aims to support business owners with recovery following the economic impact of the pandemic. In addition, the celebration includes a piece of public art by PMRC Creative Director, Jag Nagra, that will be unveiled closer to the date of the celebration. The event is a collaboration between the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective, South Asian Arts Society, Indian Summer Arts Society, 5X Festival, Daily Hive, Westcoast Foundation, and the City of Vancouver.
Date: May 31st, 2020
Time: 7:10 – 7:40 PM
Location: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube
City of Surrey to host virtual Canada Day Celebration
Surrey, B.C. – The City of Surrey has announced Surrey Canada Day will be hosted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consideration for public health and safety. Presented by Coast Capital Savings, Virtual Surrey Canada Day will take place on July 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for the kid’s and senior’s segment, and regular programming from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., broadcasted on Facebook and YouTube Live.
“While the safety of our community is the top priority during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t mean we can’t find a way to celebrate this great country of ours,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Surrey will have its annual Canada Day celebration, but this year we will be coming together virtually.
Hosted by a true Canadian icon, Hayley Wickenheiser, and featuring nationally recognized musical artists from BC such as Colin James, Bif Naked and 54-40, Virtual Surrey Canada Day will be an opportunity to safely celebrate and show our national pride on Canada’s birthday.”
Hosted by four-time Olympic gold medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser, this year’s free family-friendly virtual event will feature a series of segments including, musical entertainment, virtual tours, indigenous and cultural acts, a “Family Hour” for kids and seniors, dance lessons, a rodeo tribute, and a virtual firework finale to end the night.
The livestream will feature musical performances by local Surrey artists and Canadian groups including Colin James, 54-40, Bif Naked, Toque, Said the Whale, and Madeline Merlo.
The broadcast will pay tribute to those affected by COVID-19 and honour the courageous local frontline health care workers and essential service providers. Additionally, Virtual Surrey Canada Day is working alongside corporate sponsors to raise $10,000 for the Surrey Food Bank to support the City’s vulnerable population.
“Although it will look a bit different this year, Coast Capital is delighted to support Virtual Surrey Canada Day.” said Maureen Young, Director, Community Leadership, Coast Capital Savings. “In this unique time, it is absolutely essential that we find innovative ways to continue to nurture a strong relationship with our friends, families and our wider community.
This virtual celebration offers us all a chance to come together in a new way to celebrate our diversity and our pride in our nation while still focusing on keeping everyone safe and healthy.”
The City recognizes the impact the current pandemic and physical distancing measures may have during the summer event season. Residents are encouraged to continue to connect with each other online to limit the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. The City of Surrey is working closely with the Fraser Health Authority, the BC Centre for Disease Control, and the Public Health Agency of Canada to monitor and to respond to the current COVID-19 situation.
This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.
For more information, visit surrey.ca/canadaday
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