Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Cover Story

A Decade of Celebrating Excellence

By Petrina D'Souza, 20 Nov, 2019
  • A Decade of Celebrating Excellence

With the entire South Asian community in attendance, DARPAN Magazine put together a great event that honoured the last 10 glorious years of the Awards and the growth of the community.

The 10th Anniversary celebration of DARPAN’s Extraordinary Achievement Awards was an unforgettable night. With the entire South Asian community in attendance, DARPAN Magazine put together a great event that honoured the last 10 glorious years of the Awards and the growth of the community.

DARPAN’s Extraordinary Achievement Awards 2019 exceeded everyone’s expectations in every aspect. The spectacular event took place at Aria Convention Centre in Surrey on September 13 and was attended by over 700 guests. The celebration was two-fold as not only was it the 10th year of Darpan Awards, the magazine also completed 15 years of publishing this year. Every segment created for the evening was in its best element – be it the grand red carpet reception, delicious gourmet cuisine and beverages, top-class music and entertainment, or the 10 remarkable awards winners of 2019.

The magical Red Carpet, sponsored by Preston GM, was a class apart thanks to all the prominent celebrities and personalities gracing it. At the entrance, attendees were welcomed with tasteful beverages and the latest luxury Preston GM models on display. The media centre was abuzz as our red carpet hosts Nisha Khare and Kuljit Kaila interviewed our esteemed guests asking them their expectations for the evening; while photographers captured beautiful, candid moments.

Passionate performances by flamenco dancers added a new electric touch to the night, as guests mingled with each other while taking in the ambience. Right from political dignitaries and top businessmen to socialites and established young adults, every individual could feel the energizing energy on the Red Carpet which stayed throughout the event. Inside, the beautiful cocktail lounge sponsored by WBI Home Warranty was bustling with life and conversations while guests enjoyed the delectable appetizers and beverages. Attendees from within and outside the community added glamour and style to the night with their colourful, graceful and fashionable outfits.

The evening opened with the soulful voice of singer Vishaljeet who kicked off the evening singing two popular, energetic songs. Canadian actor and television personality Huse Madhavji and local model-actor and fashion queen Kanika Sasan were the MCs for the night. Versatile actor in film and television, Madhavji was back on stage with his fantastic energy, making this his sixth stint at this celebratory night. Madhavji has played prominent roles in ABC’s Combat Hospital, HBO’s Call Me Fitz, CTV’s hit drama, Saving Hope, among many others. He will next be seen on the upcoming Hulu sci-fi series Utopia Falls and heard as the voice of Ramu in the upcoming Disney animated series, Mira, Royal Detective.

MCs Madhavji and Sasan kicked off the festivities which included opening speeches, keynote speech, award ceremony and entertainment. Stephen Murphy, Executive Vice President, Banking at Canadian Western Bank, Title Sponsor of DARPAN Awards, shared a few inspiring words with the guests, followed by John Tory, Director of Business Development for Air Canada, Airline Sponsor for
the Darpan Awards 2019.

Another special guest and speaker at the event was Ravi Singh, 2017 Keynote Speaker and International Sensation Award Winner, who shared a few words about his relief work in Afghanistan. He was proud to introduce the 2019 Keynote Speaker whose work aligns in someway to that of his foundation, Khalsa Aid.

DARPAN Awards proudly presented this year’s Guest of Honour and Keynote Speaker, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi. She is the founder and executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) and co-founder and Vice-President of Creating Hope International, a Michigan-based non-profit organization. Dr. Yacoobi founded AIL in 1995 to provide teacher training to Afghan women, to support education for boys and girls, and to provide health education to women and children. Under her leadership AIL has established itself as a groundbreaking, visionary organization which works at the grassroots level and empowers women and communities to find ways to bring education and health services to rural and poor urban girls, women and other disenfranchised and poor Afghans. AIL supported 80 underground home schools for 3,000 girls in Afghanistan after the Taliban closed girls’ schools in the 1990s. Since 1996, 16 million Afghans have benefited from AIL’s education and health programs.

Dr. Yacoobi has received international recognition for AIL and its achievements. Dr. Yacoobi has six honorary doctorates from various universities, including Princeton University. She was honoured in 2017 with the Sunhak Peace Prize and the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education in 2016. She is also a recipient of the Opus Prize, Kravis Prize and Gruber Prize. She is a Skoll Social Entrepreneur, Schwab Social Entrepreneur, Ashoka fellow and was nominated as one of 1,000 women for the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition to her work with AIL, Dr. Yacoobi has been a panelist, TEDWomen speaker and an advocate for education of women and children at a number of international conferences, including the Clinton Global Initiative, California Governor’s Conference on Women and Families, and the Central Eurasian Studies Society conference at Harvard University.

The key element of the event – the DARPAN Awards – honoured 10 amazing individuals from the South Asian community for their extraordinary achievements and for reflecting their heritage in a remarkable way. These 10 South Asians, identified as leaders, who embody the spirit of community and give back to greater Canadian society, were honoured with the prestigious Darpan Extraordinary Achievement Award. The never-ending applause by the guests, along with the inspiring thank you speeches by the winners generated a feeling of pride and unity at the event.

Madhavji and Sasan’s energy and witty sense of humour kept the guests engaged and entertained. Many known figures and celebrities from within the community and British Columbia graced the occasion with their presence. Spotted at the event were BC Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims; MPs Randeep Sarai and Sukh Dhaliwal; MLAs Stephanie Cadieux, Bruce Ralston and Marvin Hunt, among others; Surrey Councillors Mandeep Nagra, Brenda Locke and Jack Singh Hundial; and Surrey RCMP Superintendent Maxine Schwartz.

The entertainment segment was something new and different and the guests were in for a treat. With lights all dim, glow-in-the-dark dancers kicked off the closing entertainment segment with a high-energy bhangra performance. Glow sticks were distributed among the attendees and they enthusiastically used it to welcome the main entertainer Sharry Maan on stage. Maan’s popular tracks got everyone dancing through the night. The singer made the young and the old come on the dance floor. With his infectious energy and foot tapping songs, he entertained and got guests dancing at DARPAN Awards.

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