Profiles

BHARATHI SANDHU – WHEN YOU FALL, ALWAYS TRY AGAIN

Bharathi was very much pushed into leadership roles in her early 20s when others saw her potential, but she could only see her flaws and inexperience. What she considered to be inexperience at that time allowed her to problem solve out of the box and develop strategies to move organizations forward where she held leadership positions. 

SONIA VIRK – DREAM BIG, WORK HARD, AND FACE ALL THE CHALLENGES

Sonia was born and raised in India. She finished her B.A. (laws) and LL.B from Guru Nanak Dev University before immigrating to Canada. Upon obtaining a Canadian Law Degree from the University of New Brunswick, she moved back to BC and started her legal career. She articled with the law firm of Yearwood & Company and was called to the Bar in BC in 2005, and in 2008, she co-founded the law firm of Joomratty & Virk. In September 2012, she co-founded Virk Sabharwal, Lawyers, now called Virk Viyas & Associate Lawyers. Sonia specializes in Corporate/Commercial Law, Residential and Commercial real estate, Wills & Estates, and General Litigation matters.

JESSIE KAUR LEHAIL – DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS

Jessie Kaur Lehail, founder of Kaur Collective, and a member of the Board of Directors for Fraser Health, was born and raised in Kamloops, BC. Her parents set the tone to work hard, remain humble, and do good. They encouraged their children to speak up against injustice, value education, and do their best with every opportunity that comes their way.

MANINDER GREWAL – SHINING THROUGH RESILIENCE

Maninder Grewal came to Canada at 19 from her hometown Chandigarh. “My first few years were challenging without close family and minimal support,” she confesses. “When my first child, my beautiful daughter, was born, I felt that I finally had a sense of purpose and belonging.” 

MANJIT GILL – A DREAMER WITH A HELPING HAND

Manjit Gill has always been a partner in effecting positive change in her communities. Over fifty years ago, Manjit immigrated to Langley from India, where she was working on completing her Master’s in History at Punjab University. She immigrated to join her husband, Darcy Gill and the family business at Cloverdale Fuel Ltd. Manjit and her husband are still running it. It has been based in Langley since 1945 and has since expanded to three more businesses— Darman Recycling Canada, Darman Recycling USA, and Jasmine Real Assets.

SHARANJIT KAUR SANDHRA – OVERCOMING RACISM THROUGH SISTERHOOD

Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra was born in the UK but has lived almost her entire life in Abbotsford/Fraser Valley in BC. She went to school here, earned her undergrad, Master’s, and just this week, became the first Sikh to graduate from the Ph.D. program at UBC History. She has been working as a coordinator at the South Asian Studies Institute, UFV, for 12 years, a co-curator of exhibits at the Sikh Heritage Museum during that time, and has become a community leader and advocate around issues of anti-racism and anti-oppression. She has constantly called out organizations and institutions to do better and work better towards forging meaningful anti-racist practices. This includes the museum and educational sector. She is also a mother to 10 and 12- year-olds. 

PAULINE STEVENSON – CARVING A PATH OF HER OWN

Pauline, at 18, grew up in a small community, being told that having a ‘good job’ for a lifetime of security represented success. She knew her path would be one she would have to carve herself. Though encouraged by her mother to become a strong and self-sufficient woman, this did not include dreaming beyond working at the local sawmill.

LIZZIE ALLAN – OWNING HER STORY, SHINING HER LIGHT

Lizzie Allan is a professional comedian and a registered therapeutic counselor. During a research performance project, while studying comedy at university, she discovered the healing benefits of comedy therapy. It led her to decide to use her own challenging life experience as a show’s springboard.

ANNIE OHANA – THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF WOMENS’ IDENTITIES

Annie Ohana is an anti-Oppression Curriculum Specialist & Indigenous Department Head at LA Matheson Secondary. A Sephardic Jewish settler of visible minority Moroccan immigrants, Annie has lived in multiple worlds, privileged and oppressed. “I realized that I had to make space for others to uplift myself and bring justice to others. I share their stories and constantly question the systems we are forced to follow. Leadership is knowing when to lead from the front, within the middle, and support from behind,” Annie emphasized. 

RENAE MORRISEAU – THE RESILIENT ART OF RENAE MORRISEAU

Renae has been creating artistic works for most of her life and journeyed across Canada and internationally in film, television, theatre, and music. As an actress, writer, singer, producer, and director in both television and theatre, she has honed her skills by observing, listening, and supporting the artistic works of many individuals who helped and supported her in understanding artistic passion, focus, and creative vulnerability in sharing Indigenous stories in a good way—miyopimatisowin. 

HEATHER LYNCH – AN INTERSECTIONAL LEADERSHIP JOURNEY

With West African ancestry, Heather was born, raised, and currently resides in New Westminster, BC. She holds the title of Senior Manager to one of the largest not-for-profit agencies in the Province. She has a degree in Criminology, a Master’s degree in Leadership, and Certification in Organizational Change Leadership.

DALJIT GILL – BADESHA – CONFIDENCE BOOSTS A WOMAN’S SELF-ESTEEM

Daljit Gill-Badesha’s career is driven by social justice, equity, collaboration, and seva (service). She grew up in an immigrant, Punjabi Sikh, multigenerational family, studied at UBC and found her life partner, Avtar. They have two beautiful children, Aneel & Riya. Her career journey has been diverse. She has led portfolios for all ages and served on provincial and national committees on community development, sports, children/youth development, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

LISA XIE – WOMEN EMPOWERMENT BY PAYING FORWARD

Lisa is a first-generation immigrant from China. At 10, she followed her family and moved to Canada. As new immigrants, her family, particularly her brother and her, received tremendous support from the community. That’s how the pay-it-forward mentality grew in her.