Excellence. Elegance. Eminence. These words only begin to encompass the exquisite evening of the 2022 DARPAN Extraordinary Achievement Awards. Each year, DARPAN Magazine brings together the best across industries, making both local and global impacts, under one roof.
Presented by returning sponsors, the prestigious Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the awards were a sight to behold with the cream of social, business, and political realms gathered to celebrate South Asian brilliance.
The awards have been the perfect platform for bringing South Asian leaders together to celebrate community milestones and as well as individual achievements. These individuals have been creating true impact and creating ripple effects across the world, alongside bettering the community. The spirit of greatness was evidently present in the air through the evening.
A record-breaking 800+ guests attended the 12th annual awards night, eager to enjoy their evening in full swing, with no more COVID-19 related restrictions. Surely, the awards have become a calling from the community. Attendees commenced their experience on the uniquely adorned red carpet reception, sponsored by Preston Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac Ltd. Leigh Heppner, General Manager of Preston Cadillac remarks, “We were thrilled to sponsor the Darpan Awards this year once again. As always, it was a spectacular night with an incredible lineup of speakers, entertainment, and award winners. Every year we walk away from this event inspired and honored to participate in this community and always look forward to next year!”
After the graceful red carpet, guests proceeded to soak in the beautiful cocktail lounge sponsored by WBI Home Warranty. A live media station for esteemed guests, a crowd-pleaser 360 photo booth, and an array of delicious finger foods and desserts adorned the premesis.
Before the highly anticipated awards presentation itself began, guests enjoyed an energetic performance presented by Shan-E-Punjab Arts Club. Canadian actor and television personality Huse Madhavji, as the Master of Ceremonies, mesmerized audiences with his enthralling stage presence. The first award recipient, a true embodiment of the innovative spirit, Dr. Gurtej Sandhu, received recognition and a standing ovation from the audiences, for being the all-time seventh most prolific inventor as measured by number of U.S. utility patents.
Senior Fellow and Vice President at a top chip manufacturer in the world, Micron Technology, Inc. with its headquarter in Boise, Idaho, United States of America, Dr. Sandhu’s expertise lies in the areas of thin film processes and materials, VLSI, and semiconductor device fabrication. Although his interests may sound specialized, Dr. Sandhu’s inventions impact the general public more than apparent at first and are at the heart of memory chips used in electronic applications from smartphones to computers and servers used to conduct businesses in the world.
One of Dr. Sandhu’s early and celebrated inventions include his achievement in developing a method of coating microchips with titanium without exposing the metal to oxygen, which would otherwise oxidize the chips instantly and ruin them. Although the genius inventor himself initially did not think too much of his invention, most memory-chip makers use Dr. Sandhu’s process today. As RBC’s Regional President of British Columbia, Martin Thibodeau presented Dr. Sandhu with the awards, Madhavji was even able to get the two to shake a leg to an upbeat Bhangra song, as they both united with their mutual love for the Punjabi folk dance of Bhangra.
“Lights, Camera, Action! It was truly a magical evening celebrating the #DARPAN Magazine Extraordinary Achievement Awards! From the experience of walking the red carpet into the venue, through to the interview and photo gauntlet, you were embraced by the spirit of the South Asian community. It was an absolute honour for RBC to be the presenting sponsor for the 2nd year in a row for this amazing event, organized by the talented Gurvinder Hundal, Ramneek Dhillon and the entire #DARPAN team! Throughout this enchanted evening I was touched by the many remarkable stories about the impact and contribution of the South Asian Community to the business landscape and the overall fabric of our society,” says Thibodeau excitedly.
The Industry Marvel Award recipient, Dr. Rajpaul Attariwala has produced the first, one of a kind, groundbreaking MRI technology that is being used by doctors around the world to save lives. The Artistic Visionary Award was presented to a recipient who has taken music to a new scale through music training at a very young age, Tarun Nayar. The Community Crusader Award recipient, Dr. Bulbir Gurm, is a Fellow at Canadian Nurses Academy, and is best known for using her academic privilege to improve communities. Harleen Dulay won the Breaking Barriers Award for becoming the first South Asian Canadian female to play NCAA Division 1 basketball and using her love for the sport to inspire other young athletes. The Heritage Defender Award was presented to Raj Bhandal, who has decided to revisit the past and preserve the history for future generations after history books were destroyed during the political tensions in India in 1984.
The Corporate Engagement Award was given to a recipient who is not only a successful entrepreneur himself, but is also tasked with heading Innovate BC, Raghwa Gopal.
A celebrated athlete, Amarveer Singh Dhesi, won the Spirit of Sport Award who recently bagged a gold medal for Canada in the men’s 125 Kg category at the 2022 CommonWealth Games. The presenter of the Spirit of Sport Award, Amar Doman, Owner of BC Lions, shares his experiences, “Thank you Darpan - a fantastic event again, everyone at our table enjoyed it. BC Lions will continue to support this great initiative of highlighting difference makers in the South-Asian community. Keep up the great work!”
The Young Wonder Award was presented to a recipient who is an academic star and is 1 of 100 graduating students from across Canada who was selected to receive a Schulich Leader Scholarship valued at $100,000 dollars, Sarthak Tyagi. Last but not the least, Manjit Gill and Darcy Gill took home the Advancing Philanthropy award as a couple, for donating time and money extensively to various charitable causes for two decades.
The night ended with a special entertainment performer who is a name known in every South Asian household. A legend in the South Asian music industry, and even internationally, the superstar has been listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest selling bhangra solo artist of all time, with sales of over 4.9 million records over the span of his career. The globally celebrated Malkit Singh took over the stage with his contagious energy and won hearts all night long as he sang and interacted with everyone. Notedly, guests were in for a pleasant surprise as the singer handed out pairs of black sunglasses to the dancing audience when he sang his superhit number, Kali Ainak. Simply put, the crowd went wild. Singh had guests mesmerizingly dancing the night away to his foot-tapping songs, bringing an energetic end to a spectacular night.
DARPAN Magazine wholeheartedly thanks the larger community for their incredible support and encouragement over the years. “We are grateful to all our pillars of support that continue to make the awards night a reality each year, in addition to giving us ideas and encouragement. The support from sponsors, community members, and the general public is absolutely heartwarming. We can genuinely see the demand from the people that want to attend this event every year. If anything, this is reflective of how much love there is for the initiative, and for that we are eternally thankful.”, delightedly comment Gurvinder Hundal and Ramneek Dhillon with utmost gratitude.
A night like no other, the awards undoubtedly stand as an exceptional testament to the significance, value, and prosperity of the South Asian community. As such, yet again, the awards has managed to become the talk of the town, featuring noteworthy accomplishments of inspiring individuals. The night is a propellant to individuals and a push forward in the right direction for changemakers who are driven to stir positive change in society and spark important conversations in the public sphere. A memento and symbol of South Asians’ achievements and appreciations, the 12th Annual DARPAN Extraordinary Achievement Awards 2022 were truly a night to remember.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO..
Dr. Gurtej Sandhu
In Honour of His Unparalleled Dedication & Passion for Innovation in the Field of Emerging Memory Technologies
Recognized for being the all-time seventh most prolific inventor, with more than 1,300 U.S. utility patents, meet Dr. Gurtej Sandhu. Senior Fellow and Vice President at a top chip manufacturer in the world, Micron Technology, Inc. with its headquarter in Boise, Idaho, United States of America, Dr. Sandhu’s expertise lies in the areas of thin film processes and materials, VLSI, and semiconductor device fabrication. Although his interests may sound specialized, Dr. Sandhu’s inventions impact the general public more than apparent at first and are at the heart of memory chips used in electronic applications from smartphones to computers and servers used to conduct businesses in the world. One of Dr. Sandhu’s early and celebrated inventions include his achievement in developing a method of coating microchips with titanium without exposing the metal to oxygen, which would otherwise oxidize the chips instantly and ruin them. Most memory-chip makers use Dr. Sandhu’s process today!
Dr.Gurtej Singh Sandhu receives the International Sensation Award from Martin Thibodeau, Regional President, British Columbia, & Kam Raman, Vice President, Group Advantage Of Royal Bank of Canada
In Honour of His Extraordinary Achievement as a Successful South Asian Entrepreneur, Tech Phenomen, and Industry Mentor
Raghwa Gopal is not only a successful entrepreneur himself, but is also tasked with heading Innovate BC. He has been instrumental in the creation and management of successful programs for technology companies and has spearheaded the development of the Okanagan’s tech sector into a $1.6 billion economic contributor. A recognized leader in B.C.’s tech and innovation community with extensive experience starting, growing and selling numerous businesses, Gopal has also been instrumental in leading efforts to secure funding from multiple sources to help serve the B.C. innovation ecosystem as well as leading programs that supported hundreds of local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership, Innovate BC is delivering high-impact programs that foster innovation across B.C.’s economy, with a focus on accelerating sustainable solutions – from cleantech, agritech and more – to the problems faced by British Columbians and around the world.
Raghwa Gopal receives the Corporate Engagement Award from Yves Giroux, Vice President, & Perminder Chohan, Managing Director of Desjardins Financial
In Honour Of His Extraordinary Achievement As a South Asian Artist
Passionate about fusing Asian music and electronica, Tarun Nayar has taken music to a new scale through music training at a very young age. His involvement in Vancouver’s music scene in his youth was music to the ears of many with the formation of well known band Delhi 2 Dublin in 2006. Currently, he is at the forefront of the successful 5X Festival. Nayar is also the co-founder of Snakes x Ladders, an alternative South Asian music and culture channel. A driven advocate for spreading diversity in the music scene, Nayar has gone viral on TikTok. Merging his formal training in Indian classical music and education as a biologist, Nayar is also the brain behind the project, Modern Biology, which uses modular synthesis, home built synthesizers, and other analog equipment to improvise with the natural vibrations of a certain place and time.
Tarun Nayar receives the Artistic Visionary Award from Gordon Houston, Executive Vice President, & Nav Grewal, Associate Vice President, of WBI Home Warranty Ltd.
In Honour of Her Extraordinary Achievement in Basketball and Becoming the First South Asian Woman to Play in the NCAA Division 1
Using her talents in basketball to inspire future athletes, Harleen Dulay’s passion and love for the sport of basketball truly does not know any bounds with her becoming the first South Asian Canadian female to play NCAA Division 1 basketball. Her journey of making basketball history in the US is also documented in documentary Press Breaker, which covers her story as the first Punjabi woman in the league. Having grown up in the game, Dulay was inspired by her father who played championship-level basketball in the early 1980s. Now, after having conquered the sport despite any controversies or injuries that came along the way, Dulay inspires younger children in the community in more ways than one. Now a Registered Nurse at the BC Children’s Hospital, Dulay also runs the XV Training Academy as Director and Cofounder, alongside her role as Assistant Coach at the University of British Columbia.
Harleen Dulay receives the Breaking Barriers Award from Alex Holme, Director of Sales, at ML Emporio Properties Ltd.
Dr. Rajpaul Attariwala
In Honour of His Extraordinary Contribution and Innovation in the Field of Medicine
Dr. Rajpaul Attariwalia has married engineering and medicine. His first, one of a kind, groundbreaking MRI technology is being used by doctors around the world to save lives. Now a practicing radiologist, Dr. Attarwalia earned his PhD in engineering before returning to school to study medicine. Attariwala specializes in diagnosing and treating injuries and diseases using medical imaging techniques such as X-Rays, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography exams. These techniques offer accurate visibility to the inside of patients’ bodies, helping to detect otherwise hidden illnesses, so that they can be treated quickly and efficiently. A self-described “hard-core engineer,” he developed the Prenuvo scan through customized hardware and proprietary software. Be it tech executives or Grammy winners, the Prenuvo scanner has attracted and benefited a range of patients since with radiation free checkups.
Dr.Rajpaul Attariwala receives the Industry Marvel Award from Paul McDonald, Sales Manager, Preston Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac Ltd.
Dr. Balbir Gurm
In Honour of Her Extraordinary Contribution in Improving Communities through Leadership
Dr. Balbir Gurm is a Fellow at Canadian Nurses Academy and is best known for using her academic privilege to improve communities. She teaches and trains future nurses and is also a consultant with 30+ years of experience who has provided leadership on multiple community boards. Frequently in the media to comment on local issues and partnering with organizations to discuss cultural safety, she serves as a role model for community activists. As founding member and facilitator for the Network to Eliminate Violence (NEVR) she continues to work with a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary team (education, justice, health, service providers) to create resources and facilitate workshops to create a violence free society. She advocates for system change to governments, with a vision to bring academic knowledge to the community. Dr. Gurm is well known for excellence in education and leadership.
Dr. Balbir Gurm receives the Community Crusader Award from Mohamed Mansour, Vice President of Sales, Allure Ventures
Amarveer Singh Dhesi
Spirit of Sport
In Honour of His Extraordinary Contribution as an Inspiring Athlete
A celebrated athlete born to wrestle, Amarveer Singh Dhesi has made a name for himself at every level he has competed at. Recently, at the 2022 CommonWealth Games, he bagged a gold medal for Canada in the men’s 125 kg category. Dhesi earned his way to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo by first winning the 125 kg weight class at the national trials in December 2019 and then reaching the finals at the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in March 2020. Dhesi defeated Rio 2016 Olympian Korey Jarvis in dominant fashion at the trials, reversing the result from four years earlier. Just ahead of the Olympic qualifier, Dhesi also won 125 kg silver at the Pan American Championships. As part of his preparations for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Dhesi won gold at the Matteo Pellicone Tournament in March 2021.
Amarveer Singh Dhesi receives the Spirit of Sport Award from BC Lions owner, Amar Doman
In Honour of His Extraordinary Contribution in Preserving & Promoting South Asian Heritage
Raj Bhandal has decided to revisit the past and preserve the history for future generations after history books were destroyed during the political tensions in India in 1984. His collection of artifacts dates back to the 1600s with a rare collection of coins and a signed book by the last Sikh Emperor, Duleep Singh. A reflection of passion, love, and unapologetic righteousness, Wanjara Nomad Collections is the vision of Bhandal. With a hunger to learn, and an unrelenting determination to unearth the past, he has devotedly put together a collection that can be understood and appreciated in the present. The only known collection of its kind in North America, Bhandal is tirelessly bringing together unmatchable treasures from all over the world under one roof. The collection is a testament to the desire to preserve, learn, and share history.
Raj Bhandall receives the Heritage Defender Award from Jeet Dhindsa, President & CEO, of Van Gogh Designs
Manjit Gill and Darcy Gill
In Honour of Their Extraordinary Contribution as Philanthropists Promoting Healthcare & Community Initiatives
Manjit Gill and Darcy Gill have donated time and money extensively to various charitable causes for two decades. They are well known for their generosity donating $1.5 million alone to Langley Memorial Hospital. A major leader in the campaign to fund a major expansion of the hospital’s emergency room, the inspiring duo has also donated money for other hospital facilities, and matched donations to the Giving Hearts Gala. In addition, they have volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Burnaby Multicultural Board, and the Rotary Club. The philanthropist couple has also generously donated to PICS Society to support the Guru Nanak Diversity Village project, which is a 125 bed long-term care facility to be built in Surrey to provide culturally sensitive care to seniors. The husband and wife have sat on various committees, charities and boards, proactively playing a role as active members of the lower mainland’s multicultural community.
Manjit Gill and Darcy Gill receive the Advancing Philanthropy Award from Reggie Raju, Director/Store Operations of Peace Arch Duty Free.
In Honour of His Extraordinary Achievement in Academia & Community Initiatives
An academic star, Sarthak Tyagi is 1 of 100 graduating students from across Canada who was selected to receive a Schulich Leader Scholarship valued at $100,000. He is currently a computer engineering student. From a very young age, he wanted to give back to the community and as a result impressed charities with a unique invention of his own. His inherent interest in STEM led him to design a Smart Navigation Cane to help assist the blind and visually impaired. This struck Tyagi after witnessing a visually impaired person get hit by a car while he was living in India. The cane scans the surrounding environment and buzzes or vibrates when it detects nearby obstructions. He has been in contact with several non-profit organizations globally to donate these canes. With an undying passion for volunteer work that helps society and people in need, Tyagi is a true scholar.
Sarthak Tyagi receives the Young Wonder Award from Milan Mann, President Real Estate Development and Construction, BM Group of Companies