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Meet the future leaders: Inspiring South Asian Youth

Meet the future leaders: Inspiring South Asian Youth

The South Asian immigrant community has made a special place in the hearts of Canadians with all the hard work and commitment to help other community members. Now generation next is ready to take Canada to the next level of development. This young generation is committed and passionate to serve the society along with building unique business opportunities. Many inspirational youth were recognized recently.

The Surrey Board of Trade in its 9th Annual Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards, awarded business and community-minded youth under the age of 25, working in Surrey or working on a business or community project in/for Surrey.

The Service Above Self Surrey Youth (SASSY) Awards were also presented to seven inspirational youth. The SASSY Awards is a Rotary scholarship awards program for youth, aged 15 to 21, who are living, working or studying in Surrey or White Rock, which seeks to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate youth achievement.

Desi Today team congratulates all the young leaders who won these prestigious awards. Here we present to you the South Asians who made it to the winners’ list.

*Name:* Arpit Pandher

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Sassy Award for International Service 2019

Arpit joined the non-profit Break the Divide (BTD) to enable Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to connect to tackle global issues. As Director of Operations, he created and provided youth with ‘BTD Toolkits’ and course work to start their own ‘Break The Divide’ chapters and host leadership events. Arpit also created “Project POSER”, a project designed to battle the gang epidemic facing his community. He pitched his idea to the Head of RCMP Operations in Saskatchewan and developed connections with the Surrey Gang EnforcementTeam (SGET). This year-long project focuses on educating youth about the dangers and realities of gang life. 30 high school students are trained by SGET to present to students at each feeder school in the community on a monthly basis to bring awareness to issues. He has also worked with an English department in Taiwan to create a teaching plan that would allow youth to discuss issues and topics such as climate change, war, Taiwanese culture vs. Canadian culture, poverty, crime, and drugs from two completely distinct perspectives.

Name:* Anjali Dhaliwal

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Anjali Dhaliwal, 16, is the founder of Youth Helping Youth, a student-led, non-profit community organization that promotes opportunities for youth through social media. Anjali also co-founded a local high school business called Nutri Lip Balm, a 100% vegan and organic, eco-friendly handmade lip balm. 10% of their profits go towards locally planting new trees. She was recognized by the City of Surrey in 2018 for her outstanding contributions to the city’s community and recreation services. She was also awarded ‘Student of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Service of a Student’ at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School.

*Name:* Gurjevan Dhaliwal

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Gurjevan Dhaliwal, 18, is currently the Youth Executive Director at Kids Play Youth Foundation. He oversees all operations to involve high school students across the Lower Mainland. He provides opportunities to elementary and high school students through leadership seminars. He has impacted hundreds of students, helping them realize their potential and guiding them in becoming leaders. Aside from academic and leadership excellence, Gurjevan is also a provincial level wrestler who now competes nationally. Being a well-rounded student paved the way to being recognized as one of the top leaders by the Surrey NOW-Leader in 2018. He was also recognized by the National Kabaddi Federation for his efforts of connecting youth to the kabaddi sport and keeping them away from drugs, gangs and violence.

*Name:* Ravneet Ghotra

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Ravneet Ghotra,22, has set a great example in Surrey through her projects and business ventures. She has been involved with SOAR Philanthropic Society as a Director, providing scholarship and educational resources to local graduating high school students in Surrey and other regions. She has been vital in raising over $50,000 of scholarship funds to local youth, which have assisted many children from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend post-secondary school. She works at BC Children’s Hospital as a researcher on transcription, literary research, and the effects of physical activity on youth with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her passion for the field of sciences has resulted in great success, including being on the leadership team of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for Western Canada, assisting in organizing, managing, and raising funds for the program’s vision and mission.

Karanvir Gill

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Karanvir Gill,20, is the founder and President of Lifestream Sick Kids Awareness Society, a non-profit organization operating from Surrey. Lifestream raises awareness and gathers support for a variety of research and healthcare institutes that improvise the lives of children battling illnesses. They raise awareness for childhood diseases by organizing educational events throughout the community, providing information on healthcare and treatment advances. They gather support by signing up blood donors for Canadian Blood Services, and fundraise for BC Children’s Hospital. Karanvir is a full-time, third year Bachelor of Science student at UBC with a major in Biology.

*Name:* Shilpa Lakshmy

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Shilpa Lakshmy,21, is the President of Enactus SFU, a student-run organization consisting of over 135 students dedicated to improving the world through entrepreneurial action. Enactus SFU utilizes business to create social, economic and environmental impact in the local community, with a goal of creating scalable initiatives. Shilpa was part of Refresh, a social enterprise aimed to tackle the problem of visually imperfect fruit discarded by local grocers. Shilpa continued her involvement with Enactus through Coast Cards, a social enterprise that sells eco-friendly greeting cards made by upcycling used coasters and scrap paper, while providing transitional employment to marginalized individuals. As Project Manager, Shilpa leads a team of 15 individuals, creating partnerships with 2 recovery centres: Together We Can Addiction Recovery Rehabilitation Centre, and the Vancouver Recovery Club; giving individuals the opportunity to build tangible skills in a creative setting. She also secured three additional retailers, enabling Coast Cards to generate over $6,600 in revenues since its inception.

*Name:* Chetanya Monga

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

At the age of 20, Chetanya Monga bought a location of Vera’s Burger Shack, which has grown to generate $500,000 annually. He founded Mortgage MC, a Mortgage Brokerage and within 5 months amassed over $1.5 million in sales, continuing to grow. He is a successful entrepreneur who has a strong educational background, which includes currently completing his Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Simon Fraser University. He has used his education as an asset for his entrepreneurialism, resulting in strong sales and revenues. His work in the community has also provided him with personal growth, while giving back at the same time. Chetanya has been a volunteer for SOAR Philanthropic Society since 2015 and this year he was appointed as a Director of the organization, focusing on youth educational resources in Surrey and providing financial assistance to local high school students.

*Name:* Shawna Narayan

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Shawna, 22, established the Empower the Future Association, a non-profit organization that focuses on bridging unmet needs, such as financial literacy, networking and professionalism opportunities, and mental wellness education, to high school education through mentorship from post-secondary students. Shawna is also the Project Lead of “Women in STEM”, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The Women in STEM Project includes a series of workshops and mentorship activities with presentations, resource packages, and workbooks to encourage more young girls to study in STEM fields and bring awareness to outstanding female scientists and engineers. Shawna has a Bachelor of Science in Physics at UBC and is currently a UBC Experimental Medicine Graduate Student. Her goal is to investigate the use of e-mental health among ethnic individuals for anxiety and depressive disorders in Metro Vancouver.

*Name:* Haleena Parmar

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Haleena Parmar,23, began volunteering in high school, developing into a young leader. She is heavily involved with Kids Play Youth Foundation and Moving Forward Family Services. Kids Play Youth Foundation is a non-profit working towards keeping kids safe and off the streets through education and sports. To date, with Haleena’s contributions, Kids Play has had over 50,000 youth go through their programs. Moving Forward Family Services is a non-profit that provides counselling services at low or no cost. Haleena has been a part of the organization for the last 2 years and gives free counselling to young kids and families every week. Currently, Haleena is a full-time student at Stenberg College, works with Fraser Health.

*Name:* Gaganjit Phulka

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Gaganjit Phulka,24, is a Registered Nurse (RN) providing primary health care to the Stó:lō First Nations at the Seabird Island Indian Reserve. She also works with Fraser Health at Langley Memorial Hospital and is the Founder and President of a not-for-profit organization called ‘Vitality for the Vulnerable’. Founded in January 2018, this organization provides a platform to educate and empower women and young girls in the Lower Mainland suffering from homelessness or poverty, or those who are facing barriers toaccessing health care due to their socioeconomic status, language, or cultural differences. Gaganjit was able to recruit 15 RNs, over 100 student nurses and 85 high school students from all over BC to spread awareness on topics of women’s health, such as breast care, mental health, HIV, STIs and ovarian and cervical cancer. Gaganjit is also a member of the Delirium Protocol Committee at Langley Memorial Hospital, where she works with physicians, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists to create health care protocols that would be beneficial to both staff nurses and patients.

*Name: *Ravneet Randhawa

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Ravneet is currently the Project Manager of ‘Count on Me’, a hands-on program that teaches at-risk youth the fundamentals of financial literacy, employability skills, and healthy eating. Coming into her role with fresh ideas,  Ravneet enabled ‘Count on Me’ to have its curriculum be accredited by G&F Financial Group, created partnerships with 3 school districts to teach the ‘Count on Me’ curriculum, making the program one step closer to being self-sustainable. Under Ravneet’s leadership, ‘Count on Me’ has impacted 34 youth to save over $3,700 for their futures. By expanding ‘Count on Me’ to high school classrooms and working with an additional 330 youth, it is projected that these youth will collectively save over $437,000 within a year of the program’s conclusion. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s of Business Administration with dual concentration in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and Innovation at SFU.

*Name:* Abhayjeet Sachal

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Abhay,17, is a once-in-a-generation student whose transformative leadership approach to change has inspired many at an incredibly young age. Through ‘Operation Green’, he has organized a variety of community clean-ups and preservation initiatives, led fundraising campaigns, placed entries in several green challenges and competitions such as the BC Green Games, participated in the BC Hydro Energy Ambassador Conservation program and spent time volunteering for Environmental Awareness presentations in schools and universities. His involvement in environmental causes has led him to establish a foundation called ‘Break the Divide’, which creates global awareness about climate change and its impact on Canada’s indigenous populations to invoke collaboration, understanding and action. Abhay is also a gifted speaker. He has been a presenter at the 2018 South-Eastern Environmental Education Alliance conference, spoke at the World Religions Parliament in Toronto, and the Eco-Sikh Gala in Washington, DC. He was also invited to be a Science World TEDxKids presenter with his “Theory of Creativity”. In 2018, Abhay was recognized with Canada’s We Day Award.

*Name:* Brahmroop Sandhu

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Brahmroop makes an impact to Surrey through his involvement with the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, the Surrey RCMP, Metro Vancouver Crimes Stoppers, Canadian Civil Liberties Association (Privacy Protector Project) and theSurrey School District. Brahmroop is a bemedaled youth. One of his biggest achievements is being recognized as Surrey Crime Prevention’s Volunteer of the Year in 2016, the youngest in the 35 years history of the society, accumulating over 2,000 volunteer hours with this organization alone. He has been trained by Crime Stoppers, and delivers presentations at local high schools on the importance of reporting crime safely. Brahmroop is determined to be a law enforcer. Currently, he is completing his Law Enforcement Studies Diploma at the Justice Institute of BC and will commence his Bachelor’s Degree in September.

Hajira Khan

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Hajira has been working on her creative marketing company, Creatorly, for the past year. Despite being a new business, it showcases great results and return. Some of her clients include Tasty Indian Bistro, Salon Chez Pierre, Water St. Café, Fresh Prep, Original Joes, and Second Cup Coffee. She creates content that draws attention, increases business awareness and incorporates community members to encourage a collaborative environment. Her newest marketing endeavour is EmpowHER, a platform and event label that allows women in business or in the creative culture to come together and network. Most recently, Hajira had the opportunity to take her marketing experience to an international level as a creative director for Air Canada’s holiday commercial. The filming took place in Vancouver and Tokyo and the commercial aired in December 2018. It has since been viewed over 7 million times. Hajira is also the lead organizer of BeautyCon SFU in partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart Canada, to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society and the Surrey Hospital Foundation.

*Name:* Tanraj Sohal

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Tanraj is an ambassador with Canadian Eyesight Global, a registered Canadian charitable organization comprised of business leaders, doctors and volunteers concerned with global blindness. Canadian Eyesight Global has helped hundreds of British Columbians, particularly Surrey residents, to preserve their vision and prevent blindness by early diagnosis of preventable causes such as cataract, glaucoma and other eye diseases. Having volunteered with Canadian Eyesight for over 10 years, Tanraj organizes free eye care camps in various community centres and temples in Surrey. Aside from volunteering his time with Canadian Eyesight, Tanraj is also a chess coach and player. He is a member of the Chess Foundation of Canada, British Columbia Chess Federation of Canada, Chess and Math Association of Canada and US Chess Federation. He has been chosen as Captain of Team BC.

*Name:* Harjot Takhar

Award: Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards

Harjot mentors Surrey youth to spearhead provincial projects and represent his organization at national conferences. His impact reaches far beyond his role as a Director with the One Blood For Life Foundation (OBFL) and Project Blue Hands Society (PBHS), encompassing numerous organizations and companies throughout Surrey and the Lower Mainland. Having needed blood transfusions himself after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2015, Harjot understands what it means to be on the receiving end of these life-saving donations. Through PBHS, he takes to the streets to learn the stories of the homeless residents of the Downtown East Side by preparing/serving food and providing winter clothing. To address the unmet needs he witnessed, he helped organize 4 events, facilitated partnerships, and helped establish a new long-term program for re-employment starting this year. Harjot is also a youth project coordinator with Jivana Organ Donation Society, where he has played a vital role in helping recruit potential organ donors. Harjot is currently enrolled in the General Business Program at Douglas College.

Karambir Dhaunsi

Saasy Award for Overcoming Adversity

Karambir Dhaunsi attends Tamanawis Secondary and is 17 years old. Throughout his cancer diagnosis and treatment, he has shown an unshakeable positive spirit and persistence to continue pursuing his academic goals and community service. He has maintained straight “As” and a 4.0 grade point average, and is motivated in his studies and undertakings because of his profound curiosity to learn, his ambition to put his mark on the world and his appreciation for being able to participate and contribute to our greater community. He volunteers for a number of organizations in and out of school. Karambir does not dwell on the negativity of his illness; on the contrary, he has made the choice to embrace life fully.

Chanya Chawla

Sassy award for Youth Leadership

Chanya Chawla attends Panorama Ridge Secondary and is 17. She has been involved in the Model United Nations/Debate Club and the Interact Club. She co-founded Young Humanitarians Foundation, a youth-led non-profit society that fosters the idea of collective growth through education and empowerment. She organized the first and only free Model United Nations Conference in Canada, discussing and deliberating on current global issues. It is evident that Chanya has her eyes always towards justice, building youth capacity, and diving deep into issues, showcasing her maturity, her intelligence, and her constant drive to serve others.


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