SFU is honoured for its commitment to its India Strategy with a community engagement award from Drishti Magazine. (l-r) Arun Garg, the first co-chair of the SFU-India Advisory Council presented the award to SFU President Andrew Petter and VP External Relations Joanne Curry, with current council co-chair Wally Oppal.


SFU’s commitment to India Strategy recognized with community engagement award

December 14, 2017

SFU is being recognized for its deep and ongoing relationships in India and with the local South Asian community. Surrey-based Drishti Magazine has presented the university with its Excellence in Community Engagement Award.

The award recognizes the university’s commitment to its India Strategy, which was developed more than a decade ago and supports a wide range of initiatives that benefit students and the broader community.

The announcement was made during the magazine’s recent annual awards gala, which also saw a trio of SFU students/alumni recognized for a variety of accomplishments.

For its community engagement honour, SFU was cited for its contributions “to the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the communities that it serves.”

The India Strategy is supported by the SFU-India Advisory Council, currently co-chaired by former Attorney-General Wally Oppal and SFU President Andrew Petter. 

Oppal and Arun Garg, the council’s first co-chair and current member, presented the award. “It is a great personal pleasure and privilege to recognize a very special initiative in our community with Simon Fraser University,” said Garg, medical director of Fraser Health's South Asian Health Institute. “This engagement galvanized SFU’s involvement with our community.

“Under the leadership of Joanne Curry, VP External Relations and former SFU Surrey campus executive director, and President Andrew Petter, this engagement has taken deep roots,” says Garg. “I have seen up close how dedicated they and the SFU team have been in building true links.”  The SFU team includes Nav Chima, director of community partnerships,who was instrumental in connecting SFU to a number of major community projects for mutual benefit.

SFU’s India Strategy provides a strategic framework to guide academic programming, support relevant research, and deepen community engagement. 

The result has been collaborative opportunities for students, scholars, researchers and businesses in B.C. as well as in India, to engage in projects which support joint-academic-research initiatives, practicum and co-op placements, student recruitment and exchanges, and programs supporting business and trade relations.

Celebrating Diwali

Among initiatives: a mobility fund for students to work and volunteer in India, a community-based Komagata Maru project, promotion of arts and culture through supporting community events such as Indian Summer Festival, Fusion Festival and SFU’s Diwali Gala, bhangra dance and Punjabi language classes, and a series of South Asian public health initiatives, continuing with support for the third Canada-India Networking Initiative (CINI) conference in June 2018. Collaborations in India with such companies as Indian Oil have also transpired.

“SFU's India strategy and commitment over the past decade has led to many new relationships, both locally and in India,” says Petter. “Our students have had positive experiences traveling to India to work or volunteer, and our deep community partnerships have enriched us all.” 


SFU alumnus Kiran Toor receives a youth leadership award.

Drishti also recognized recent SFU graduate Kiran Toor with its Power of Youth Leadership award. The award celebrates “young progressive leaders who are driving change socially, economically and environmentally.” 

Toor, a Surrey Board of Trade Top 25 Under 25 award recipient, is cited for her community work, which includes founding Kids Play. As the foundation’s executive director, she is working to prevent youth from getting involved in drugs and games by promoting sports and education. To date Kids Play has reached nearly 20,000 local youths.

The magazine also recognized SFU Beedie School of Business graduate student Keshav Khanna with its young professional of the year award. Khanna, who will graduate with an MBA in Management of Technology in 2018, is cited for his contributions at BC Hydro, where is currently T&D work program manager for distribution capital projects.

And SFU alumnus and former SFU wrestler Arjan Bhullar is Drishti’s athlete of the year. A former Olympian and Commonwealth Games freestyle wrestling gold medalist, Bhullar became the first fighter of South Asian descent to compete in the UFC earlier this year—and won his match.