May, 2020

Desi Girls Rock BC’s Pageant

Surrey’s Arshdeep Purba walks away with Miss BC crown

Who is the hottest girl in the world? The Desi Girl — This famous Bollywood song from the movie Dostana announced the world that Desi girls are most beautiful around the world. Now Desi girls have proved that they are not only hottest but smartest girls around the world. A recently organized beauty pageant is the proof. The Miss, Mrs. and Miss Teen BC Pageant which – a three day event was held recently at Fort Langley to recognize young ladies across British Columbia for their personal accomplishments and community involvement. Winners of the titles proceed to compete in national programs, and ultimately may represent Canada on the world stage. Out of the 22 titles, South Asian women won in 6 categories. Arshdeep Purba from Surrey was crowned as Miss BC.
At this year’s pageant, which took place over the Canada Day weekend, contestants voiced their visions for creating a better community and raised over $24,000 for Cops for Cancer, which fundraises in order to give children with cancer the opportunity to attend Camp Goodtimes. Since 2007, the Miss, Mrs. and Miss Teen BC Pageant has raised over $318,000 for the charity.
The Miss, Mrs. and Miss Teen BC Pageant recognizes diversity amongst women. This Pageant is quite unique in relation to the pageant world because of its focus on the development of the contestants, rather than on the physical. “This is not a beauty pageant. It will be a well-rounded, intelligent, outgoing and well-spoken young lady who will win the crown, not necessarily the most beautiful girl,” said Darren Storsley, the host and one of the organizers of the Pageant.
Desi Today congratulates all the winners. Allow us to introduce the South Asian title holders for the 2017-2018 year:

Miss BC
Arshdeep Purba

“Born in India, Punjab, I moved to Canada at the age of five. It was tough to leave loved ones behind and challenging to adjust in new communities. My father is an engineer in electronics and my mother is a computer-programmer. But when we moved here, it was not easy for them to upgrade their studies to continue working in their respective fields; therefore, they had to adjust into any job they could find. But they did not let their hardships affect their kids and raised us with much love and care.
Coming from a Punjabi family, I have always learned from my parents to keep focus on the life I want to create. They have always told me that fear is what limits your road to success.
A major activity that I have done throughout the years in secondary school was Cadets. Throughout this experience, I have developed a great sense of discipline, and gained valuable qualifications such as marksmanship training and first-aid. I have reached the rank of Sergeant and I had the privilege of teaching younger cadets and assisting them in various areas.
In order to challenge myself intellectually, I investigated the issue of girls and women around the world who lack nutritious food, uncontaminated water, legal rights, education, and several other issues. In order to take action for this issue, I spoke with various individuals and we all wanted to give support to this cause. We came across Plan Canada, and their Because I am a Girl movement. We began planning for our club, and met with the two wonderful teacher sponsors that would support us throughout this extraordinary journey to make a difference. With everyone’s efforts in this project, we were able to fundraise over $1000 for water sanitation in developing countries.
When my parents found out about the Miss BC Pageant, they motivated me to join because they saw it as an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone, instead of viewing it as a typical pageant. Throughout all of my experiences, one big lesson I have learned is that everything is about mindset. It is your mind that will be your guide through everything. Filling up your mind with positivity and honesty is the bridge to success.
With the importance of mindset and the motivation from my family in mind, I entered my first pageant, Miss British Columbia 2017 to support the Canadian Cancer Society and to launch my platform: To bring out the power within each individual to battle insecurities and self-doubt. The lessons and workshops made this experience truly remarkable, however the heart touching stories shared, and the opportunity to interact with such empowering women made this an unforgettable experience!

Miss Fraser Valley
Baneet Braich Abbotsford

I was born and raised in Abbotsford, BC. My parents immigrated here in the mid 1990s and I eventually came around in 1999. Living the immigration experience from humble beginnings my parents eventually grew into their own professions. My father is a trucking instructor and my mother works in immigration. Being the oldest of three and having parents working countless hours, I developed an individuality to myself to find opportunity and put myself out there.
Since the age of 9 I was interested in broadcasting and journalism and this September I will be moving to Ottawa to pursue journalism and political science at Carleton University. I have traveled to China and Europe and now look forward to exploring more of Canada. Currently I work for Black Press as a videographer working on multiple projects for this summer, own my own videography and photography company, I am a radio host a singer.
I decided to participate in this pageant because in grade 3 I watched it on a dvd and told myself that when I grow up I want to try this. Nine years later, I did it! Miss BC is not truly a beauty pageant, it is a self developing weekend  where we meet difference makers, self challengers, and women who just want to try something new.
The pageant was far beyond my expectations. Walking in I had the stereotypical expectations of a beauty pageant and was anxious. However, within an hour of meeting  these incredible women I knew this was not as daunting as expected. The weekend was long and tiring with rehearsals however, I enjoyed every minute of it. The leadership workshop was one of my favourites with personal stories from leading women entrepreneurs and of course the self defence workshop!  I vlogged during the weekend too to make these memories last!
I think what made me win was my passion for community connection and just participating to have fun and smile. The connections made with the women there are everlasting and I am so thankful to have found that DVD back in grade 3.

Miss BC Charity
Reshmi Chandra Surrey
Final year Psychology student

I am a Fijian but I was born in Vancouver! My mother is a housekeeper at a hospital and my father is a heavy duty mechanic. I am currently in my third year of Psychology and I am hoping to be a child psychologist one day. Currently I work with children and adults with Autism. It is a really tough but a rewarding job. Watching a child develop in a positive manner and seeing how thankful the parents are to have you there is a feeling like no other. I love that my job can make a difference in the children or adult’s lives I am in.
I personally am not a fan of beauty pageants because they focus on the external rather than the internal. However, Miss BC was completely different. They did not care for your looks because anybody can have a pretty face. What they valued was who you were as a person on the inside.
Miss BC Pageant wants you to develop more as an individual and their focus is on giving back to the community. I fell in love with their values and that is why I joined. My family was hesitant at first because nobody had ever taken such a big step. But I wanted to make a difference. Once they let that idea digest, they were fully on board and supported me every step of the way.
The pageant was held during the Canada long weekend. I was extremely nervous of the unknown. However, once I stepped into the room with all the other girls, and we all went around in a circle saying something inspirational, all of our hearts grew closer to one another. Every girl in that circle opened up about their life and there were so many tears, but from becoming vulnerable, we grew so much closer to one another.
I am thankful for every single workshop, it really opened up my eyes and really grounded me to be a better person. I think I won this title because of how open I was about my mental health.
I suffer from Depression and Anxiety and not many people are educated about that. To some people, if you can’t see it physically, it isn’t a real thing. However, opening up about my recovery process and how much of a roller coaster it is, it has helped so many people. People have reached out to me and told me that I SAVED their life simply because they did not feel alone and I gave them some kind of hope.
This drives me to continue sharing my story to help those who are suffering to get help or share my little techniques to help make their life a little easier. I am still a work in progress therefore I am not perfect and do not know all the answers. But, being open and vulnerable has made such a difference in other people’s lives that I cannot wait to see what other people I will help with this title! The Miss BC Pageant is an experience I will never forget, I was around so many inspirational and loving individuals. To win a title is the cherry on top and I will forever be thankful for it. I cannot wait to see how my year as Miss Charity BC will be!

Miss Greater Vancouver
Beenu Bajwa Surrey
Biology student, UBC

Currently, I am 20 years old and the first generation Indo-Canadian. My mom is a Health Care Assistant and my dad is a Cab Driver. I am a fourth-year science student at the University Of British Columbia- UBC and majoring in Biology. In the future, I will be attending medical school to become a general body surgeon.
My inspiration to get into beauty pageants came from wanting to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself. Being a Pre-medical student, I had no experience and did not know what to expect upon being selected to compete. My comfort zone is definitely the library, but being on stage, in front of cameras is something I had never thought about doing. However, with the tremendous support I received from my family, I decided to accept my offer and embark on this journey.
The whole experience was wonderful and I learned so much from the workshops. In particular, my favorite workshops were self-defense training and also on self-esteem which taught us how to be confident.
My winning question was: “If you could go on a date with, who would it be?”  I would love to go on a date with Barack Obama. He inspires the minority populations by proving that race does not have to be a barrier to success. He embodies what perseverance can do, as he was unsuccessful in the 2000 U.S House of representatives but still followed his dreams and became president in 2008. Despite his humble beginnings he graduated from Harvard law and has never forgotten his roots and remains humble.
What I think made me win, was my ability to be an all rounded individual who inspires to be a doctor but also was able to compete in the beauty pageant. My motto in life is, that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Do not be limited to the stereotypical definitions that exist in the society.

Miss Teen Greater Vancouver
Gurnaz Sandhu

I am a 17 year old high school student from Vancouver. I was born in India and my family moved to Canada when I was around a year old. I grew up with hardworking parents, a doctor and a housewife. My parents have always been supportive of everything I have done. My mother has always inspired me to try new things and challenge myself because through every experience you learn something new.  I’ve always been interested in the media and have a passion for acting and singing.
When I found out about this pageant I decided to participate so I could get access to the different workshops that were provided. There’s a lot of hard work that is put into pageants. Long rehearsals, sleepless nights; it’s not all just sparkles and glamour. There’s a stigma around pageants but after this weekend it was proved untrue for me. I went in expecting that this would be a “movie” pageant where all the girls would be jealous and caring of only looks. I was surprised when we started off with a heart and soul workshop where each girl shared a part of her in a room full of strangers. We all developed a sisterhood in a matter of a few days. It was truly a weekend of self discovery and friendships. I was so thankful that I reached the finale.
Onstage I was asked two questions: what would you do if you were premier of the province? With which I answered that I would raise the salaries of teachers because they are the ones that shape us. In fact, we spend more time with them then with our parents! My second question was about my trip to India and what I had learned from it. I had went on a trip to India a few years ago where I learned a lesson that made me want to be an active member in my community. I saw a child perhaps a year old being walked over by people when I was coming from a festival. It was then I realized how everyone deserves a life with basic necessities and I was so grateful to live in Canada. On my flight home I decided to start volunteering in my community with a organization that raises the self esteem of women and youth in poverty through makeovers. It was maybe that which helped me win the title of Miss Teen Greater Vancouver. This was definitely an experience I won’t forget .

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