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DIVERSEcity CEO Neelam Sahota talks about supporting mothers at home and in the workplace for Mother’s Day

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On Mother’s Day this year, let’s take time to not only celebrate mothers, but really acknowledge them. See them. Not just the smile on their lips, but the worry in their eyes. The exhaustion on their faces. The load on their shoulders.

The COVID-19 global crisis has highlighted the emotional, often invisible, workload that mothers carry. It has also increased that workload.

As we self-isolate in our homes, mothers are carrying the burden of homeschooling, often while working full-time jobs from home, in addition to the cooking, cleaning, shopping and so on.

Many are also still working outside the home, as leaders on health care’s frontlines, or working in essential or service industries, helping us all safely access groceries and essentials during this crisis. We are also seeing amazing women leaders rise up to battle this crisis at the policy level.

For all of them, traditional lines of work and home are being blurred, and it’s important we don’t dismiss or ignore the pressure mothers may be under now — and as we rebuild our workplaces after COVID-19.

As a mother myself, I remember the challenges of building a career in a traditional workplace when my kids were young. When I took on the role of CEO at DIVERSEcity with three children under the age of 12, I was fortunate to have a strong support network. But I still had to make accommodations and choose priorities for myself as a professional versus a mother. During this crisis, I can only imagine the strain working mothers of young children are currently under.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission says that COVID-19 is “having a disproportionate impact on women. Social and economic barriers have been amplified for racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low income, single mothers and other women. They are at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence.”

The Commission recommends taking a feminist approach to re-establishing our workplaces. Canadian Women’s Foundation calls for us to invest in diverse women’s leadership opportunities and empower girls, asking us to imagine what women could achieve if we supported them to the fullest.

Flexible workplaces need to be more of the norm

As a leader of a social services organization, I want all my employees, especially mothers, to feel supported during this crisis. As we all continue to work from home, providing services to our clients through phone and virtual options, I want them to know we see them, we appreciate them and we will give them the flexibility they need not just during COVID-19, but as part of our permanent organizational culture. I would not be in my role today if I did not have flexibility in my career along the way. This is my commitment to working mothers in our organization. You don’t have to choose between being a mother and being a professional. Organizational cultures like DIVERSEcity’s need to be the equalizer and more of the norm in our workplaces today.

As for what’s next? Let’s use the lessons from this crisis to reimagine the 21st century workplace more thoughtfully. Let’s all be more flexible and more authentic to who we are and what we need as professionals, as parents, as humans.

To all the mothers holding things together for their families in these challenging times, have a happy Mother’s Day.

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Community Board

Two Immunization Clinics Opened This Week in Surrey

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On November 2, two large immunization clinics offering accessible flu vaccines opened in Surrey. Jointly operated by Fraser Health and the Surrey-North Delta Division of family practice, these clinics will provide flu vaccines to the Surrey-North Delta community, during the upcoming two to three months they will be in operation.

The clinics will be operating in two locations – at the Newton Urgent Primary Care Centre and at the Axis Primary Care Clinic in Cloverdale and will offer vaccination services by appointment only.

The two organizations have worked together to implement these clinics in a very short amount of time in order to meet increased community demand.  These clinics are available in addition to the traditional channels of pharmacies and family physicians providing flu vaccines to their patients.

The clinics will be open to everyone and will accommodate individuals struggling with barriers to access, such as low-income individuals and those without a family physician.

Those wishing to receive a vaccine will have to be free of any COVID-19 symptoms, and screening will be conducted at the vaccination sites before each appointment. Appointments can be booked online at https://surreynorthdeltaflushot.secureform.ca, where patients will also be able to select the time and location of their appointment.

Spots are expected to fill quickly, so organizers recommend booking as soon as possible.

About the Surrey-North Delta Division of Family Practice

Established in 2010, the Surrey-North Delta Division of Family Practice is comprised of nearly 400 physicians at various career stages, 40 resident doctors and 200 Medical Office Assistants from across Surrey and North Delta.

The Surrey-North Delta Division of Family Practice brings together family doctors to enhance the delivery of health care services in the community. It is a member-driven non-profit society, created by and for doctors, who understand the needs and realities of serving a community as large and diverse as Surrey and North Delta. The Division is funded by the Government of BC and Doctors of BC.

More information about the SNDFP can be found here: https://www.divisionsbc.ca/surrey-north-delta

About Fraser Health

Fraser Health is responsible for the delivery of hospital and community-based health services to over 1.8 million people in 20 diverse communities from Burnaby to Fraser Canyon on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples.

Their team of nearly 40,000 staff, medical staff and volunteers is dedicated to serving patients, families and communities to deliver on our vision: Better health, best in health care.

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Surrey social enterprise leader Harsh Thakkar is an RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant of 2020

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Multiculturalism is one of the things Harsh Thakkar loves most about Canada. But it comes with its share of challenges, like language barriers, which can keep newcomers feeling left out. That might explain why Thakkar, head of DIVERSEcity Interpretation and Translation Services in Surrey, B.C., is so passionate about communication across cultures. “Language should never be an obstacle for anyone in a country as diverse as Canada,” says Thakkar, who is one of this year’s RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winners.

Thakkar oversees a team of more than 300 interpreters and translators who help clients communicate, especially in the health care and court systems, in more than 88 languages. Under his leadership, he has grown the business to include rare languages, Indigenous languages and even American Sign Language (ASL). “We are proud to be a designated provider for provincial and municipal government interpretation and translation needs,” he says.

And the kicker is that it’s all for a good cause. DIVERSEcity Interpretation and Translation Services is a social enterprise, certified by Buy Social Canada. That means its profits go toward the good works done by its parent charitable organization, DIVERSEcity Community Resource Society, which helps immigrants, refugees and vulnerable populations.

Knowing his work is helping immigrants is poignant for Thakkar, who came to Canada from India as an international student in 2001. He faced his own challenges, juggling his business studies with being a peer mentor, while trying to gain work experience, even though international students were then limited in their ability to work off campus.

“This also made it more difficult to secure work experience points to later qualify under the skilled immigration category,” he says. “This motivated me to run for campus student representative. After winning the election, I went to the Parliament of Canada to speak about allowing international students to work off campus.”

Thakkar, who’s thrilled the rules have improved since then, says, “It’s important to stay positive in the face of challenges. The most important attribute that helped me achieve my goals is my personal drive and ‘can-do’ attitude and maintain enthusiasm even when things get tough.”

The same lessons apply in business. Professionally, Thakkar has developed a reputation as a charismatic, optimistic leader with organizations like the Vancouver International Marathon Society before coming to DIVERSEcity.

Thakkar, who also manages DIVERSEcity’s CELPIP Language Testing Centre, says he wants to continue to grow in his current role and take every opportunity to support newcomers to Canada, including mentoring international students in his personal time.

“As immigrants, we are surrounded by a lot of challenges, but don’t let those stop you from moving forward,” he advises. “A positive mindset is what’s going to allow you to succeed in your goals in Canada,” he says. “Honestly, we are so blessed to be in a country where people care about each other, so all you have to do is go out there and talk with people.”

And if they speak a different language, Thakkar can help you with that!

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Community Board

Shakti Film Festival 2020

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Shakti Society is a nonprofit society committed to empowering women, families, and children through community forums, Shakti Awards, annual wellness days, and other activities. Our mandate is to support all members of society, especially women, in finding their power and voice to become strong leaders and advocates for themselves and the community. We have introduced various initiatives that help ‘awaken the power within’ and create dialogue around feminism and gender equality. The Shakti Film Festival is our latest undertaking in our mission to increase and acknowledge women’s contribution to our society and their representation in film.

Shakti Society has addressed the influence of media and films on violence against women and we will be focussing and promoting films that showcase women in strong roles as well as filmmakers who are often marginalized due to various barriers, like race, color, finances, language, disability, sexual orientation and various health issues including mental health.

Due to the current pandemic, we will be hosting our inaugural film festival in a digital format where films will be screened over two days, October 10th and 11th, in honor of the International Day of the Girl Child. We will be inviting film and media personalities as well as community leaders to engage in action-oriented discussions about the role that media plays in shaping society and how we as consumers of media also play a big part in creating our culture.

This year’s program is set for October 10-11, 2020, and will consist of films that will include:

  • 1 Feature Film: 60 mins or longer
  • 1 Documentary Film: 45 min or longer
  • 1 Short Film: up to 20 mins
  • 1 Student Film: up to 8 mins

People of all genders are welcome to submit their films as long as a woman holds one of the following positions within the filmmaking team: Director, Writer, Cinematographer or Producer.

Films must fall within one of the following themes:

  • Violence Against Women
  • Political Participation of Women
  • Women and Environmental Challenges
  • Race, Gender, Identity
  • Men and Boys as Allies

The Submission Deadline is September 30th, 2020.

Awards & Prizes

  • Best Film – $100
  • Best Student Film – $100
  • Best Documentary Film – $100
  • Best Short Film – $100

Films can be submitted at https://filmfreeway.com/ShaktiFilmFestival-1

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Vancouver based cleantech startup secures supply chain with Nissan North America

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Moment Energy, a Canadian cleantech startup, secured a supply chain with Nissan North America earlier this month. This marks a key milestone for the company as they are the only Canadian company working with Nissan towards creating a circular economy for electric vehicle batteries. Through this supply chain, Moment Energy aims to reduce diesel consumption in remote communities and work with renewable energy providers to store clean energy.

While the demand for renewable energy such as wind and solar is increasing, there remains a gap for sufficient energy storage. Traditional storage can be expensive and involves the depletion of raw materials. Moment Energy fills this gap by repurposing electric vehicle batteries for sustainable energy storage.

“We’re very excited to work with Nissan towards creating a more sustainable future.” said Sumreen Rattan, Co-Founder, Moment Energy. “This puts us on the road to not only efficiently deliver renewable energy to remote communities but also prevent these batteries from producing toxic waste in landfills. We at Moment Energy are delighted to be at the forefront of the development of clean technology.”

“Moment Energy is proving that second-life Nissan LEAF batteries can continue to have value outside of the vehicle.” said Mark Thorpe, Director Business Planning & Development Aftersales, Nissan North America. “As a global pioneer in electric vehicles, Nissan is dedicated to discovering and promoting new ways to use EVs to achieve a better future.”

Moment Energy is now engaging with battery manufacturers and renewable integrators to bring second life energy storage to market. They are also seeking partnerships for off-grid pilot projects. For more information or partnership opportunities please contact Sumreen at info@momentenergy.ca.

About Moment Energy

Moment Energy is a Vancouver based startup that was founded to make energy storage more accessible.

The founders, Sumreen Rattan, Gurmesh Sidhu, Gabriel Soares and Edward Chiang met in the Mechatronic Systems Engineering Program at Simon Fraser University where they co-founded an electric race vehicle team, Team Phantom. They leveraged their passion for clean tech and entrepreneurship into the creation of Moment Energy.

To learn more about Moment Energy, visit their website at www.momentenergy.ca

1 – circular economy – an economy following the principles of reduce, reuse, repurpose, and then recycle

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Rally Against Police Murder July 4 Surrey BC

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Vigil for Ejaz Choudry and Rally Against Police Murder 
MOVED TO JULY 4
We demand and public inquiry into how Police Murder are handled. 

The Al-jamia Mosque in Vancouver and Coalition Against Bigotry will hold a prayer vigil on Friday June 26th at the Al-Jamia Mosque at 655 West 8th Ave during at
during Friday Juma prayers at 1 pm to mourn the murdered of Choudry, a 62 year old South Asian man struggling with his mental health by the police in Malton Ontario on Saturday June 20th.

Because it a 50 person limit in the Mosque, people can join and online solidarity prayer vigil on Facebook. Please can pray in their own way and time or have a moment of silence to think about the tragic murder of Ejaz Choudry.

Then join West Coast Cop Watch and Coalition Against Bigotry-Pacific for a Rally and March Against Police murder and abuse on July 1st at 1 pm at the Central City Mall where the Independent Investigation Office of BC is located, to protest the lack of police responsibly and accountability of the murder and abuse by the police. We demand a public inquiry into how police murders and handled in BC. We want to remember Chantel Moore, Ejaz Choudry Kyaw Din, Tony Du, Navarone Woods and many others, mostly Indigenous, Black and People of Colour who have been murdered or abused by the police.

Kyaw Din, who also struggled with his mental health like Ejaz Choudry was also murdered by the RCMP in Coquitlam last year in his home. The Din family held a rally outside the IIO office and Surrey City Centre in February demanding answers from the IIO. They don’t even know the name of the police officer who killed their brother. We also remember Tony Du who was murdered by the Vancouver Police, a Vietnamese, Chinese man also struggling with his Mental health. The police officer who shot Du did hot get charged with murder.

We also Navarone Woods, a Gitxsan indigenous man murdered by the Skytrain Police. The Coroners Jury and also asked for better mental health support during police incidents.

We ask people to wear masks and keep 2 meters distance. We will march to the RCMP E Division Headquarters and then end with a potluck physical distance picnic in Green Timbers Urban Forest.

We acknowledge that this event is being organised on the occupied, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples – specifically the Musquem, Squamish, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Stolo, Musqueam, Katzie and Qayqayt Nations.

For more information, contact Imtiaz Popat at 604 396-2072

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