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‘Awards of Impact’ for 5 people who help Surrey’s DIVERSEcity help newcomers to Canada

Also, a free DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair is at Surrey City Hall on Oct. 19
DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society award winners and others, including CEO Neelam Sahota, COO Garrison Duke, MLA Bruce Ralston and directors, at the Surrey-based organization’s Annual General Meeting on Sept. 29. (Submitted photo)

“Awards of Impact” have been given to five people by Surrey-based DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, which also elected a board of directors at its Annual General Meeting on Sept. 29.

The $500 awards recognize individuals in the areas of food justice, youth leadership, seniors, violence prevention and community engagement. Details are posted to

DIVERSEcity works to help newcomers “build the life they want in Canada” with programs focused on settlement, language, employment, community engagement and mental health.

The Food Justice Advocate Award went to Mainu Ahmed, a co-founder and volunteer director of Muslim Food Bank and Community Services in Surrey.

“We’re very passionate about food and food injustice and making sure that the people around us have access to the right food,” Ahmed stated. “We make sure that newcomers, refugees or others have religiously and culturally appropriate food, be it kosher, halal or vegan. We provide welcome food boxes for all refugees coming into the city [of Surrey], as well as emergency food boxes.”

The Youth Leadership Award was given to Jyoti Sheokand, a physiotherapist and past client of DIVERSEcity’s Future Troopers youth employment program.

“I came to Canada just four months back and didn’t know a single person,” Sheokand recalled. “DIVERSEcity proved to be a blessing for me as I received help like employment coaching and counselling, Canadian workplace culture awareness, interview preparation and tips, job search tips, financial support, transportation support and laptop support.”

Given to someone who’s overcome multiple barriers, violence or trauma, the Strengthening Safety Award went to Mojisola Allen, who in 2018 fled to Canada with her two kids to escape domestic violence.

“This is huge to me and especially my kids seeing this [award] happen,” Allen said. “It’s such an honour to give back to my community and give back to DIVERSEcity in the little way that I can because they’ve been tremendously helpful.”

The Inspiring Seniors Award winner was Jaswant Lohat, 77, a caregiver for her husband, a stroke survivor. Other than the help she receives from DIVERSEcity’s Newcomer Family & Friends Caregiver Support Program, she has little other support, but is always ready to volunteer and support other seniors in need.

“Although I’m very busy, I make sure I volunteer for the community,” Lohat said. “I love to participate in different community events and helping seniors whenever they need. It just makes me feel good and brings fulfillment to my life.”

The Community Champion Award went to Tammy Huston, who has volunteered with DIVERSEcity since the start of the pandemic, spending countless hours grocery-shopping and delivering food to the organization’s clients.

“I have been volunteering with DIVERSEcity for two-and-a-half years and am in awe of the amazing work the organization does,” Huston noted. “I am delighted to support the seniors program in making our community a more liveable one.”


Also at the AGM, elected directors included Upkar Singh Tatlay (chair), Amy Gill (vice-chair), Sonia Parmar (treasurer) and directors-at-large Jason Wong, Kam K. Raman, Cindy Zheng and James Delorme.

CEO Neelam Sahota looks forward to working with the incoming board “to guide the vision of our collective work ahead as a community-serving organization committed to an inclusive and transformative recovery together, one that puts people’s wellbeing at the centre.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 19 starting at 3 p.m., a free DIVERSEcity Entrepreneur & Small Business Fair will be held at Surrey City Hall with a keynote speech by Avi Arya on how to be a fearless entrepreneur. Also featured is a Dragon’s Den-style Business Pitch Competition for immigrant and BIPOC entrepreneurs. Event details are posted on the website

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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