David Sidoo

100 Year Gala Celebrates South Asian Pioneers and Navigators!

Evening celebration of inspiration and reflection in the South Asian community.

The 100 Year Journey annual gala on Saturday, October 3, 2015, celebrated past, present, and future South Asian trailblazers. The evening built upon last year’s historical reflections with an awards program that recognized current and future pillars of the community with eight individuals who have opened doors and broken new ground as “Pioneers” and “Navigators” and one individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the South Asian community as an “Ambassador”.

“A hundred years ago, none of our South Asian pioneers would have regarded themselves as pioneers. So our Navigator and Ambassador awards are recognizing people in our community who are charting new territories and breaking new ground. These are the people who will be honoured and recognized for the contributions to society in the decades to come,” said Rana Vig, co founder of the 100 Year Journey Project and former publisher of Mehfil Magazine.

Janki Shori Among those recognized were Moe Sihota, the first Indo-Canadian  elected to the Legislative Assembly, David Sidoo, the first Indo- Canadian in the Canadian Football League, Janki Shori, who first  brought Indian film to BC in 1949, and Dr. Gagan S. Wig, whose  research is breaking new ground in cognitive neuroscience (full list at  end of release). Award recipients received a metallic gold, orb-like award  dubbed “The World”. Carrying a message of inspiration in English,  French, Punjabi, Hindu and Urdu, each award presentation symbolized  the placing of the world in the recipients’ hands.

The sold out gala at the Fairmont Pacific Rim was attended by 500 South  Asian and community leaders representing political, business and social  sectors. Special guests included Honourable Minister of National  Defence, Jason Kenney, and Members of Legislative Assembly  Ministers Michael de Jong Suzanne Anton, Peter Fassbender,  Stephanie Cadieux and Amrik Virk. Event organizers emphasized the “journey experience” by having guests pose for passport photos and stamping individual commemorative passports upon arrival.

The cocktail reception included a fashion presentation from Sunny’s Bridal which traversed yesteryear men’s attire and modern South Asian women’s designs. Emceed by CBC Vancouver’s News Anchor, Andrew Chang, guests were treated to laughs from a US based comedian, and live music as the evening’s entertainment.

The 100 Year Journey Project launched in 2014 with the creation of a book chronicling the stories of some of the first 100 South Asians in Canada over the past century. The narratives describe how some provided shelter and support for new immigrants, fought tirelessly for the voting rights of all communities, and spent years away from their loved ones as they built a foundation for their new lives.

“British Columbia’s South Asian pioneers were responsible for so many firsts. They created a community and gave rise to a distinct culture here in the West Coast of Canada. Only through carrying their stories forward can we honour their contributions and these contributions can never be overstated,” said Vig.

Recently, a digital edition of the 100 Year Journey publication has been developed for iPad and iPhone, Android, and Kindle devices—downloadable from 100yearjourney.com. A second edition of the book is currently in production and in the coming months, 100 Year Journey will continue to expand its educational outreach and culminate in the development of a digital archival system.

The 100 Year Journey Project Gala organizers express a sincere ‘thank you’ to everyone’s contribution and support for making the gala evening a huge success, particularly to co-sponsors Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey Honda, and Desjardins Financial Security.

Partial proceeds from the gala will be used for a second printing of the 100 Year Journey book and will also benefit the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation.

About 100 Year Journey Project

Established in 2014, the 100 Year Journey Project presented by the former publisher of Mehfil Magazine (1993 – 2010) celebrates South Asian pioneers in Canada by capturing and sharing their stories within a commemorative publication and website. The idea first emerged in 1996 when the column ‘Reflections’ was a part of Mehfil Magazine to capture the inspirational stories of the South Asian pioneers before they were lost to history. The vision behind the project is to create a timeless resource that preserves South Asian heritage and provides an expanded narrative of South Asian history, which presently does not exist in Canadian history books. Since its release, the publication has been enthusiastically received by teachers and has been approved for use in several school districts in British Columbia including Surrey, Abbotsford, Burnaby and Vancouver. The publishers continue to expand the reach of the project with plans to make it available to all schools across Canada and the development of a digital archival system.

For more information, visit HERE.