Director of the South Asian Studies Institute at UFV & Associate Professor in Social Cultural and Media Studies
What does being a woman mean to you? How do you define the word?
Being a woman is the greatest gift that the universe has bestowed on me. Not only have I been blessed to have had the most inspiring women in my life as mentors, guides, sisters, daughters and friends, my mother modeled the most beautiful qualities of a human that I could hope to be.
The word is imbued with symbolism of selflessness, sacrifice, love, tenderness, ambition, vision-making, caring, strength of character, intellect, honesty, positivity, uncompromising integrity, humorous against all odds and an open heart. A woman is fortunate to be a gender that nurtures life and through that act she is reborn as well.
Tell me about a milestone that defines your journey.
The milestone that defines me and my journey has been my migration to BC, Canada, at 18 years old from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. From the first moments of landing at Vancouver to my life today, I thank my parents for taking this giant leap of faith to move from one end of the earth to another with such grit and determination to make a life for their children. My life journey has been fraught with many challenges, successes and much joy and I have learned along the way what it means to be a Canadian in all its manifestations, warts and all.
I want to contribute to society in ways that leave a lasting impact and legacy for future generations in small and big ways. I am inspired by Nelson Mandela who did not let the confines of a prison stop his mind from soaring to the possibilities of a great life that he was then fortunate enough to see and take part in. In a small way, I have learned to give back to my adopted country hopefully in ways that make a difference, and when I look back, the road has been long but it has been filled with turns and ups and downs that have been exhilarating and fulfilling.
Did you ever face a challenge simply because you were a woman?
I grew up in a liberal household and in no way did I feel my gender limited my life, my imagination or my chances to succeed. I have overcome society’s ideas of itself by running against the grain and always finding a rub that made the chafing worthwhile. I have not used a heavy stick in my efforts to affect change but I have been strong and steadfast in my feminist ideals and have sought out opportunities to make a unique difference in the world. I do not walk alone, many women walk alongside me, both that are physically on this earth and those that are in the universe around me — my mother continues to guide me in my mind and my actions. Her convictions as a late life feminist guided me in my youth and although she may not have always known it, her mind illuminated mine.
What project are you working on right now?
I am working on a book that inspires other women to be the best they can be through our life long learnings that guide our everyday actions. I want to write about leaving no stone left unturned, thinking of no opportunity too small to ignore, finding no rainbow not worth marvelling at, felling no downpour that does not cleanse the soul and finding that no forgiveness small enough to make a difference. It speaks to us as individuals but in the end it speaks to us collectively so that our energy then creates a groundswell of positive flow that we can all be taken into and find the courage to face our everyday frailties.
What or who inspires you to do better each day? What is your success mantra?
My family inspires me to do better each day, to look at every day as an opportunity to make things right or to make things better. My success mantra is: always be open to new ideas.
What’s your advice for women who wish to follow your path?
I would advice women to wish to follow a path of success to be their authentic self. Always look inside and get to know yourself and like who you are and make things right with those around you that matter to you. Leave negative people and thoughts behind if you can — this takes work but it can be done.
It takes work to be the best you can be, be not afraid of what the future holds, you are the maker of your own destiny and big or small, you matter to the world. Make your life such that your smiles attract the world and your positive outlook on life makes it what you want it to be.
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