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Surrey Board of Trade Women in Business Awards 2017 with Margaret Trudeau



A sold out crowd gathered at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel for the Surrey Board of Trade Woman in Business Awards. These awards highlight the best Surrey has to offer in the success and empowerment of women in business in Surrey.

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, in her opening remarks, encouraged women in business to consider the necessary ingredients to success. She listed them as being positive energy, the ability to energize others which in turn releases their abilities, the ability to make tough calls or be decisive, having the talent to execute and lastly, having the passion for success. The room was full of women who embodied those principles.

Councillor Vera LeFranc of the City of Surrey

Representing Mayor Linda Hepner and the City of Surrey, Councilor Vera LeFranc addressed the crowd. She thanked the previous speakers for acknowledging the indigenous heritage of the unceded land  of the Musqueam, Sto:lo and Tsleil Waututh Nation on which this event took place. She took special notice of the indigenous women who had cared for the land for so many years previously. She thanked Margaret Trudeau for being not just a rock star but also a fashion icon  telling of seeing her in Hadai Gwaii as a teen and never forgetting Margaret’s bell bottoms and jean jacket.

Vera talked about both the joy in celebrating the achievements of women but also noted the challenges still ahead. As Justin Trudeau said about his cabinet being 50% woman, when asked why, he responded with the famous because it is 2015, Ms. LeFranc pointed out that in 2017 half of the Surrey City council was comprised of women. This was reason to celebrate.

And celebrate we did. The MC for the luncheon was Sonia Sunger, news anchor from Global T.V. She mentioned some of the challenges that women are currently fighting such as bridging the pay gap, the gender deficient in care work, access to leadership and entrepreneurial opportunities, access to social protection, job creation and poverty reduction. All of these are barriers, which need to be addressed before all women can truly see their potential in the business community.

Sonia Sunger, news anchor from Global T.V.

According to Sonia, there are 821,000 self-employed women, who add $18 billion dollars to the economy.  This truly is economic development for women.

Economic Development also means welcoming others from all over the world and Sonia was greeted with a round of enthusiastic applause when she said that “Canada was proud to be inclusive.”

The buffet of salads, pasta and chicken followed by a pumpkin spice dessert in the lovely setting of the ballroom at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, was the perfect place for this sold out crowd to enjoy the awards and the entertainment..

A wonderful surprise was a spoken word piece by Sajadeh Zaki, a refugee who came to Canada at the age of 12 as an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan detailing her experiences as a child of war, a refugee and a her life now here in Canada. The room became silent as she passionately connected with expressions of pain and desire for a better life. She stirred the crowd to respond with finger snapping and heads nodding. She spoke of the pain of losing a family member or a friend as you were trying to run from the danger and many in the room felt deeply what that must have been like for her and others who made that journey.

“You respect one another, value one another, believe in what we live for, live our lives to the fullest, push our own limits, we are all equal no matter where we are from.”

And with those touching words,  the audience was primed to hear the keynote speaker, Margaret Trudeau. She gave a moving, inspiring, pointed talk on mental health and the cost to society for ignoring this important component of our well being.

Margaret Trudeau – Photo Credit Peter Bregg

Margaret mentioned the three pillars necessary for good mental health, sleep, good nutrition and exercise and stressed the importance of doing regular check in – “stock taking” she called it – of assessing your mental health and where you are at in terms of self-care.

Her wit, great story telling ability and personal charm won the crowd over. She received an instant standing ovation at the conclusion of her talk. For more on Margaret Trudeau at the event, see the article Margaret Trudeau speaks on Life, Sex, Love, BC Bud and addressing Personal Mental Health in this addition of Surrey604 online magazine.

The Surrey Board of Trade Woman in Business Awards is an annual event honoring women who have worked hard and contributed to business in Surrey in five categories.

1. Entrepreneur: Is an owner or significant shareholder of any business size
2. Corporate/Leadership: Holds a senior/executive level position in a public or private-owned business
3. Professional: Nominees have a professional designation, i.e. accountant, notary, lawyer, engineer
4. Not-for-Profit Leader: Nominee holds a paid position as CEO, Executive Director or Senior Manager
5. Social Trailblazer: A founder or leader of an organization, initiative, or project that makes a significant social, economic, or environmental impact by building progressive and sustainable solutions to a complex issue facing our local community.

The event this year had a different feel than in past years.   While it has always celebrated the empowerment of women in business, this year it also acknowledged the support of men who through practical participation, encouragement and hiring women in key positions, had contributed to the success and partnership of women in business.

Noel Asmar

Noel Asmar from Noel Asmar Group Inc who won in the Entrepreneurs Category, thanked her husband for taking care of the children and allowing her to continue to build her enterprise to which women in the audience responded with cheers. Other nominees in this category were Leanne Cordeiro from Salon Cordeiro and Galia Shukr of Prestige Performance Consulting Inc.

Noel Asmar is the CEO of a company that sells designer uniforms online. She is the designer, marketer and business developer and has grown the business to where it is servicing over 4,000 clients in over 60 countries worldwide.

In past years, thank you speeches often rang from the sentiment that women have succeeded in business in spite of the roadblocks and in spite of men.   This years awards removed the “us” and “them” mentality and one category winner said that she dreams of a day when there is no longer a need to acknowledge women in business but rather that categories should include everyone of all genders. Perhaps as a society we are starting to see a shift in how women perceive themselves in the business community. Those who truly belong at the boardroom table would be hesitant to play the gender card and understandably uncomfortable with the idea of being singled out for an award as a result.   It was refreshing to see women acknowledge all of those who partnered and supported them regardless of gender.

In the category of Corporate Leadership, Dona Hurry from Mansonville Plastics Group of Companies was the take home winner, taking the prize from nominees, Marion Meletta of Westminster Savings and Emily Taylor of Surrey City Development Corporation. Starting in 1982, Dona worked her way up to the job as President and Director of Mansonville Plastics Group. As a large employer in Surrey, with over 80 full time employees, Dona continues to build on the founder’s original vision with a dedication to her staff and her company.

Sonja Virk

Professional Category with nominees, Mandie La Montagne, The Intueri Group, Parminder Mann, All Care Counselling and the winner, Sonia Virk from Virk Viyas and Associate Lawyer is an immigrant, having come to Canada in 2000. She is the President of the Indo-Canadian Business Association and is the first woman to hold that seat. She serves on the Board of Directors for G&F Financial and was appointed as a public member to the Board of the College of Dieticians of B.C.    She is a woman who is breaking through numerous glass ceilings. Sonia Virk took time to thank the men in her life who supported and empowered her.

Louise Trembley of Semiahmoo House Society

In the Not-For-Profit Leadership category the competition as fierce with community changers, Judy Krawchuk of the Centre for Child Development went up against Dc. Noreen Simmons of the BC Family Resource Hearing Society but the winner of the day was Louise Trembley who thanked her family and the leaders of the Semiahmoo House Society who “took a chance on her” and gave her the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those with challenges. Louise Tremblay completed her Master of Arts Degree in Leadership by conducting research on the barriers that people with disabilities face especially around the areas of employment. She has become a professional and passionate advocate for people with disabilities and other vulnerable adults.

In the category of Social Trailblazer,  Winner Paola Ardiles of SFU/Bridge for Help did just that by asking all of the nominees for the award in her category to join her on the stage and to share the award.

“I think it is time we changed how we reward women.” Paola announced.

Sharing both the stage, pictures and trophy, Paola acknowledged the contributions of the nominees, Alice Sundberg of the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition and Jenn Temple of Trademark Group.

Alice Sundberg of the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition and Jenn Temple of Trademark Group sharing the win with Paola Ardiles of SFU/Bridge for Help

Paola also high jacked the mic to send a personal message to Justin Trudeau via his mother. She stated that is was time to end the need for a homeless count in a country as rich and capable as Canada. She wanted Margaret to be sure to tell Justin that it was time to address this issue. This is what happens when you give a true social trailblazer a microphone.

Paola Ardiles of SFU/Bridge for Help

The presenting sponsor for this event was Vancity who has built their marketing around the idea of making room for everyone at the table. The speaker sponsor was Margaret Trudeau’s own alma mater Simon Fraser University. Kwantlen Polytechnic University, the law firm of McQuarrie Hunter and the Co-operators Insurance company were the awards sponsors. The media sponsors were all present with their lights and cameras. Global TV, The SurreyLeader and News Talk 980 CKNW  all rotated around the room asking questions and taking pictures. The Women’s Enterprise Centre was the Community Sponsor.

The topic around the table was of women’s empowerment and how much things had changed even in one year. Some women felt that for them empowerment was becoming an outdated term, no longer applicable in their organizations. Some pointed out that they were on boards where the majority of the board was comprised of women while others argued that we still have a long way to go in combating rape culture, wage gap and gender discrimination in the work place.  Others pointed out the great strides taken by the event sponsor Vancity as being the first bank in Canada to give a loan to a woman.

When former Surrey City Councilor, Judy Higginbotham, was asked what she thought of woman’s empowerment, she said

As a woman, you need to focus on where you want to go, you educate yourself and then you be ready so when the opportunity presents itself, you can seize it and you will have the confidence to move forward into it. Work towards that goal or that dream.”

As the last word on woman’s empowerment, host of the event, Anita Hubermann, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade had this to say

“I think that in today’s world it is all about reaching for the stars, working hard and making sure that you have the right support system around you and that is what woman’s empowerment is, supporting each other.”

This luncheon was a celebration of friendship, business connections but most of all, hugs and support for each other as we pursue our achievements in business.


Margaret Trudeau with Surrey Board of Trade Board members and winners of the Surrey Woman in Business Award with Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. Photo credit: Surrey Board of Trade © A Master Media

Shara Nixon loves to hear and repeat the stories of people’s lives and cultural viewpoints. She enjoys deep conversations and people who hold strong viewpoints. In her day job she is a social worker for business owners, helping them meet their goals. As an insomniac, she writes at night to clear her head. She is punctuationally challenged and uses too many !!!. She also believes in creative spelling as an art form. Her super-power is in connecting like-minded people and communicating with an intent to learn instead of respond. She writes about relationships, business savvy, online dating, finance and general things that piss her off. Shara believes that key to peace is education and connection!!!

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Building An E-Commerce Business In Canada? Here’s What You Need To Know



The consumer market in Canada is changing at a rapid pace. On the west coast, start-ups are becoming increasingly common as entrepreneurs call cities like Vancouver, Victoria, and Surrey their home.

In this changing market, e-commerce is slowly taking the place of traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts in many respects.

As an aspiring e-commerce entrepreneur, there are several significant resources and insights to keep in mind ad you begin to build your business.

Track Your Income & Expenses

Before you can strategize and create lofty long-term goals, you’ll want to ensure you have the financial structure you need to grow your business.

Often, entrepreneurs in Canada struggle with the basics and must look to alternative lenders or online payday loans in Surrey or wherever their business has been established.  To ensure you don’t make the same mistakes, you’ll want to set up a separate account for your professional expenses.

Whether you choose to create monthly spreadsheets or use a budget app, having a money management tool you can refer back to will help ensure you’re never overspending and you’re investing your profits where they’ll best serve you and your company.

Invest In a Web Developer

Many e-commerce brands are as popular as they are today because of the functionality and engagement their site brings to the market.

When you’re in the process of hiring a web developer, look at their resume and past clients — you’ll want to see what kind of sites they’ve created and how consumers have responded.

This hire can make or break your brand before you even launch, which is why it’s vital to do the necessary research.

Email Marketing

There are certain areas of creating an e-commerce brand in Surrey or throughout Canada, and e-mail marketing is one of the most significant.

While social media is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing technique, e-mails remain a tried-and-true method for reaching customers and convincing them to make repeat purchases.

Creating lists for promotions and sales is a skillful way to keep customers engaged, rather than simply e-mailing only when they’ve made a purchase.

You’ll want to continuously test and optimize your emails using A/B testing to ensure you’re maximizing your growth potential.

Prioritize Customer Service

Without customers, your business will be unable to survive, let alone sustainably grow. The e-commerce market is competitive no matter the industry you’re in, which means customers are looking for brands that care about their shopping experience.

If your operation is small, you’ll likely be handling customer inquiries on your own. Remember to prioritize a portion of your day to comb through questions or concerns to keep your potential customers invested. When buyers have a seamless experience online, they’re more likely to recommend that product or service to their network.

If you have the capital to hire a single employee or a small team, you can delegate the customer care tasks and focus on the departments that need your immediate attention. You’ll want to ensure these candidates have strong writing skills and sales backgrounds — because they’ll know how to engage with your customers and ensure their satisfaction.

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Surrey teenage entrepreneur’s food delivery app boasts of 10,000 users, unique dine-in feature



Surrey-based entrepreneur Ekam Panesar’s home delivery app DishPal is giving competition to the big delivery companies in the Lower mainland.

Two years after starting DishPal, the app now has 10,000 users and 100 active drivers. The app has partnered with 75 local restaurants already with many more to come.

The app was started by Ekam Panesar in Grade 12. The Seaquam Secondary School graduate is proud of its success so far. “This is only the beginning”.

“I was 16 at the time, when my father while eating lunch at one of the restaurants shared a concern of restaurants that they make very less profit on their orders from third-party food delivery platforms because of higher commission fees,” Panesar said.

“That’s when I decided to create DishPal, a smart app for ordering food and delivery online that helps local restaurants earn more by offering a lower commission of 10%.”

Panesar worked relentlessly to transform the idea into reality. After research, trials, and surveying the restaurant industry, DishPal was launched with a unique dine-in feature.


It is a mobile reservation, payment, and menu planning app that enables you to make reservations, order online, pay at the table, and tip. This contactless service helps you ditch your wallet.

DishPal also has a subscription plan called “DishPal Plus” which offers cashback/credit on every order, free delivery, and other benefits which helps you save while you shop.

Users may use the online credit or go to one of our partnered locations in person to pick up the order.

Panesar attributes his success and positive work ethic to his family. “My parents always taught me not to compare myself with anyone as everyone is unique in their own way.”

About the Founder-CEO:

Ekam Panesar is a solution-driven young entrepreneur who balanced his academic life with entrepreneurial dream and community work.

Ekam currently attends classes at Simon Fraser University. His drive to expand his business to the next level is fired by his vision. He wants DishPal to be a name brand in Canada and India that stands for trust, transparency, reliability, and quality.

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How Businesses Are Prioritizing Appointments As They Open Their Doors Again



Restaurants and retail stores have finally reopened their doors after months of closure. As they reopened, shoppers have lined up and flocked to stores in record numbers, even amid recent Covid-19 surges.

The reopening has been a welcome occurrence for many, not least because of the 24,000 jobs recovered in Surrey. However, while consumers are eager to support their favourite clothing brands, small businesses, and other non-essential businesses, owners and management have had to strike a fine balance between maximizing customer footfall and prioritizing customer safety in-store.

Getting the balance right between generating income and deciding which clients get the first appointments can be a tricky decision. Thankfully, each business is adopting its own ways of prioritizing appointments and maintaining great customer service at the same time.

Dental And Medical Institutions Turn To AI And Scheduling Software

Based on safety guidelines from the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, dentists are relying on a prioritization scheduling approach for patients. The organization recommends physical spacing between appointments to allow for appropriate sanitization measures between patient visits, along with pre-appointment screenings.

Dental practices are also encouraging patients to practice good dental care at home, and take note of the signs of gum inflammation early on to avoid more severe consequences, such as periodontal disease, which can occur if gingivitis develops and is left untreated.

Patients with urgent dental concerns like a severe dental infection are being referred to emergency dental clinics or earmarked for emergency clinic hours. Dental practice management software like ACE Dental and DentiCon are also being used to schedule and track appointments.

Scheduling software such as these also offers useful scheduling hacks like the ability to group patients as family members – and possibly group their appointments to minimize the spread of infections.

Other dental practices are using AI to prioritize urgent patient appointments, similar to the UK’s NHS approach to working through the patient backlog. Booking and patient interaction software like Dr. Doctor relies on predictive algorithms to help hospitals and dental care surgeries prioritize appointments by urgency instead of seeing patients on a first come first served basis.

Patients are given a patient questionnaire to complete, and graded using a colour-coded charting system. These and other dental booking software systems help to reduce the administrative burden on clinicians, which leaves them with more time to focus on patient care.

Pre-Booked Appointments And Outdoor Dining Feature Heavily For Restaurants

Due to a recent surge in cases across British Columbia, restaurants are closed to indoor dining until April 19, 2021. However, takeaways and outdoor dining are still permitted. Most restaurants have taken their appointment booking and takeaway services online, allowing customers to make reservations based on table availability, or pick up their meals to go.

The use of online appointment scheduling software such as Zoho Bookings and Yocale are popular amongst food establishments to keep track of bookings.

Currently, no more than six people are allowed to sit together when booking a restaurant reservation in order to maintain social distancing, according to reopening guidelines by Work Safe British Columbia. Therefore, larger parties are either being spilt into separate dining reservations (if outdoor space permits) or offered an alternative date.

Retailers Continue To Rely On Crowd Control, Navigation Signs, And Queues

Other retail stores have also implemented crowd control techniques instead of an appointment system. Retail stores in malls are now limiting the number of shoppers in-store at any one time, and have implemented navigation signs for customers to help with the flow of traffic in-store and outdoors.

Doormen and security staff are a common feature, as they maintain the number of shoppers in-store and regulate the flow of traffic in a bid to prioritize social distancing.

Stores are also incorporating an omni-channel approach as a way to stagger in-store traffic. Caposhie in South Granville has continued to keep a focus on online operations to balance demand.

Owner Adelle Reynaud said, “We sort of spent our time kind of building the back end up, and hopefully through this our online sales will grow and we’ll kind of figure out new and improved ways to figure that out.” Other retailers have embraced the use of the click and collect model, and are encouraging customers to use their virtual services where possible.

Jewellers like Tiffany’s in Vancouver now allow consumers to book their virtual appointments online, or book a time slot for in-store consultations. Golden Tree Jewellers in Surrey has done the same, providing a dedicated contact number for appointment bookings.

As business resumes, companies are having to find new and innovative ways to balance their profitability and customer safety. Deciding how to prioritize appointments is a crucial part of that.

The basis of prioritization and appointment models differ greatly according to businesses, but one thing that remains consistent is that businesses in BC are finding ways to rise to the challenge.

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New Device Repair Service On Wheels Launches In Surrey, Bringing Residents Contactless, Convenient And Professional Repairs Right To Their Doorstep



Mobile Klinik goes mobile: Innovative smartphone and tablet repair service on wheels is now available in more than 100 cities and towns across Canada

Mobile Klinik waiving $29.99 convenience fee to support Canadians with safe contactless customer repair support amid Covid-19

Today Mobile Klinik, Canada’s leading chain of professional smartphone and tablet repair stores, launched Onsite Repair Units, the first van service of its kind to offer consumers and businesses nationwide the convenience of professional smartphone and tablet repair at the location of their choice.

With more Canadians working and learning from home and physical distancing protocols in place, it is more important than ever for their devices to be working without issue, and now residents and businesses in more than 100 communities nationwide can conveniently access Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair Unit service.

“The launch of Mobile Klinik’s Onsite Repair service is our latest initiative to make smartphone and tablet repair a more accessible, cost effective, and convenient option for Canadian consumers,” said Tim McGuire, CEO of Mobile Klinik.

“Because we are spending so much time learning, working, and seeking entertainment at home, having reliable smartphones and tablets is paramount. We are proud to bring our services right to our customers’ doorsteps – at no extra charge – so they can resume using their device, often in less than an hour.”

As a leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, Mobile Klinik is committed to providing Canadians with flexible and affordable options to keep their devices for longer, servicing common issues like cracked screens, broken cameras, software updates, and battery replacements using high quality parts and state of the art diagnostics – right from inside the Mobile Klinik service van, outside their homes or place of work.

To further support Canadians throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, for a limited time, Mobile Klinik is waiving the $29.99 Onsite Repair Unit convenience fee.

Customers in the following communities can book today either online or by phone to have a Mobile Klinik technician arrive at the location of their choice and service their repair in 60 minutes or less.

British Columbia

  • Vancouver
  • Surrey
  • Richmond
  • Burnaby
  • Delta
  • North Vancouver
  • West Vancouver
  • Coquitlam
  • Pitt Meadows
  • Maple Ridge
  • Langley
  • White Rock
  • New Westminster


  • Calgary
  • Chestermere
  • Airdrie
  • Edmonton
  • St. Albert
  • Spruce Grove
  • Beaumont
  • Leduc


  • Winnipeg
  • Selkirk


  • Toronto
  • Mississauga
  • Brampton
  • Oakville
  • Milton
  • Caledon
  • Ottawa
  • Nepean


  • Gatineau
  • Montreal
  • Pointe-Claire
  • Kirkland
  • Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
  • Laval
  • Longueuil
  • Quebec City
  • Levis
  • Saint Jean Sur Richelieu

To find out if Mobile Klinik’s new Onsite Repair service is available in your community or for more information, visit us:

About Mobile Klinik

Mobile Klinik is Canada’s leader in professional smartphone and tablet repair, refurbishment and resale with more than 90 convenient locations from coast to coast, Onsite Repair Units in over 100 markets across Canada and an online store.

We are committed to providing Canadian consumers and businesses with flexible and affordable options to repair, buy, sell, protect and connect their wireless devices.

For more information about Mobile Klinik, please visit our website and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Attention Entrepreneurs: This Could Be The Ideal Time To Start That Business



Every business has been impacted in one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, this has led to layoffs, reduced hours, and other major changes for workers. While the economy is struggling to bounce back, entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to push their business dreams forward.

There is more talent accessible on the market than ever before, and you’re not constrained by geographic location. It’s easier to be nimble and succeed with a small team (even just yourself) than it used to be. And if you need a small business loan to get your company up and running, interest rates are expected to remain low for several years.

Many of the world’s most successful companies were started in the midst of a financial crisis. It all comes down to whether or not you can provide consumers with something they need or want. If you decide to start your business in the near future, however, you’ll need to ensure that you manage your capital well so that you can stay in a strong position for long-term success.

Surrey604 is here with some ideas. From conducting a market evaluation to saving up a healthy financial cushion, here are a few key practices for stretching your startup capital in the early stages of your entrepreneurship:

Evaluating the Market

Assuming you already have an idea of what type of product or service you want to offer, you will need to do a thorough market evaluation to ensure there is demand for it.

How big is the market? What are potential competitors offering and how is your product different? What are the price points like?

Writing a Business Plan

Once you’ve assessed the market, you’ll need to create a business plan. Much can be said on this subject, but to keep it short: Your business plan should contain all the information pertinent to the launch and growth of your company over the next five to 10 years.

Some examples of what you need to include are your mission statement, a description of products or services, financial projections, the kind of staff needed, and your marketing strategies.

Outsourcing Time-Consuming Tasks

It might seem counter-intuitive, but hiring people can be a cost-effective method of growing your business. Think about it: If you try to do everything yourself all the time, everything will take longer to get done. And chances are they won’t be done properly and you’ll get burned out in no time.

Consider any tasks or roles that will distract you from your vision as the business owner, and start looking for qualified workers to fill them. For example, you can easily hire professional accounting, legal, and branding services through freelance job platforms.

Using Financial Management Tools

A lot goes into managing finances when you’re a business owner. It’s easy to get overwhelmed keeping track of your taxes, expenses, payments, invoicing, and other factors.

Fortunately, there is a slew of software tools on the market (e.g., Freshbooks, Xero, QuickBooks, etc.) that can simplify this process. Use them.

Saving Up

Just like with personal finances, saving up a contingency fund for your business can provide you with security and peace of mind. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow — or even today! — and having money saved up can help you avoid significant financial hardships or the loss of your business.

Start setting aside money each week, and try to put away at least six months of expenses. If you’ve been thinking about opening a business, why wait?

There are many reasons why now is a great time, and if you prepare beforehand, you can take advantage of the moment and establish a stable foundation for long-lasting success.

Along with considering the tips above, keep researching to see what others steps you can take to build a healthy, thriving business from the ground up!

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