"Glass ceilings are there to be broken. I believe in our next generation’s ability to shatter them. Reaching out and find mentors to help you chart your path and achieve your unique goals. You can do it!."-Dr.Balbir Gurm, nursing professor at KPU & Founder of NEVR.
Dr Balbir Gurm is a nursing professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and an inducted Fellow of the Canadian Nurses Association's Canadian Academy.
With 30+ years of experience in education, health and health promotion, leadership, social justice, cultural safety, older adults, and social auditing, she influences policy through leadership on boards, organizations, advisory panels, speaking engagements and committees to improve communities.
Dr. Gurm founded the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) with a mission to eliminate relationship violence.
A recipient of multiple awards including in 2021 she received two YWCA Women of Distinction : Community Champion and Connecting the Community as well as the BC Achievement Award. A true community leader who selflessly advocates for equity, access, and funding for oppressed groups.
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What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a Punjabi woman in my generation meant fighting to be allowed to pursue every opportunity and balancing every other commitment along with running a household and raising children. This requires strength and resilience; it means you need to be organized, efficient and flexible and be able to navigate anything that comes your way. It also includes paving a better way forward for the next generation of women and men.
What has been your biggest achievement in 2021?
In 2021, I was honoured and privileged to receive the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and the YWCA Community Champion award. It was also humbling to receive the BC Achievement Community award and be inducted as a Fellow into the Canadian Academy of Nursing. Being recognized in this way allows a greater profile for NEVR that will help us advance our mission to eliminate violence in relationships.
Personally, I have worked to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits throughout the pandemic and have learned to take the time to slow down and practice yoga daily as well as adapt to online classes, meetings and events.
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Were there any challenges or hurdles that you had to face to get to where you are today- especially as a woman of color?
When I was completing high school, it was still the norm in the South Asian community for women to have their marriages arranged following high school graduation. I had to persuade my extended family to even be allowed to go to university. In the working world, I have experienced systemic racism. I often encounter people asking me overly-simplified and ignorant questions about the “opinion of the South Asian community.” Our community is not a monolith and one individual cannot speak for all of us. I have had to speak out against stereotyping my entire career.
What are you working on right now and in 2022?
I am continuing my day job of teaching our next generation of nurses. As well, I am currently on several national and provincial projects aiming to reduce violence in relationships. Also, I am part of a team overseeing the South Asian Canadian Legacy project to document the history of South Asians in Canada with hopes that it leads to greater understanding and decreased racism.
Through NEVR, I am facilitating the development of toolkits and implementation of community training that will aid community members in recognizing the signs of violence and safely supporting someone in an abusive relationship.
What’s your advice for women who wish to follow your path?
Glass ceilings are there to be broken. I believe in our next generation’s ability to shatter them. Reaching out and find mentors to help you chart your path and achieve your unique goals. You can do it!
Photo: A Master Media