A local celebration brought together South Asian women leaders, entrepreneurs, business women and more to break bread and celebrate Diwali— and each other.

The event, aptly entitled “Be The Light,” was presented by Lux Affairs in partnership with IN Communications, &Ko, and hosted by Sonia Sidhu and brought together a number of women working across various industries in the local South Asian community. 

As an attendee (who barely leaves her house), I was anxious at first to enter a room where I knew so few faces—and so few faces knew me. I often find excuses to not attend social events because despite being extroverted in many ways, I find myself twiddling my thumbs and retreating to the corner of the room when surrounded by too many people I don’t know. 

But this felt different.

The event was curated to be intentional, not only allow people to “network,” but to genuinely connect and celebrate themselves and other women.

I chatted with working mothers and entrepreneurs about how they manage their schedules, and had deep conversations where I was able to genuinely express my admiration for other women in the community who are making strides in their own ways. 

Time and time again we hear stories of inherent and unquestioned competition and judgement between South Asian women or being met with contempt where we had wished for sisterhood.

It’s almost a universal brown girl experience to  push each other away when all we really crave is to connect with one another. 

This was an opportunity to do just that, and set the foundation to apply this logic to other aspects of our lives. 

The goal, Rajbir Grewal of Lux Affairs says, was to “bring together women of colour that haven't had the opportunity to sit at a table and honour themselves or other powerful women.”

“We wanted to change the narrative around women from Surrey and South Asian women,” said Grewal.

“We do not need to be in competition or judgemental towards each other, we can stand united and ensure women's voices are heard and reshape the conversation.” 

Amneet Athwal of IN Communications added that the goal was to form a community, and to show that there is space for more than just “one” woman in the room.

“It's been exhausting to not have more than one seat at the table and how much work it takes to create room for empowering women,” said Athwal.

“We wanted to celebrate inspirational women as they empower each other through their stories.”

Grewal added that there was also the intention to demonstrate that there is mutual support available, even when it doesn’t look like it, or when you feel like the “only one.”

“We want to showcase that there is support, there is community and there are options and resources for their future. Unconventional careers are not discussed in schools, financial literacy is not taught, let's create and provide the toolbox to shape our women for success,” said Grewal.

It was clear that the event was meant to do just that—to facilitate meaningful conversations and inspire the women at the table to carry that sentiment forward and create room for other women at other tables they are given a seat at. 

“It's important for me to bring together women in our community to showcase unity, professionalism and the impact of working together towards a collective goal,” said Grewal.

“This is ’my why ', I have received support, guidance and mentorship through my years and it would be an injustice for me not to pay it forward. I want young women in our community to have access to the tools to build a successful future.”

The goal is never just to get a seat at the table—it’s to extend a seat to those who otherwise wouldn’t have gotten one, and to continue to incrementally make the table bigger and bigger.

After all, what use is a table if you’re the only one sitting at it?

About the author

Rumneek Johal

Rumneek is a journalist, host and speaker. She is currently the BC Reporter at Press Progress where she focuses on systemic inequality, workers and communities, as well as racism and far-right extremism. Her previous work centers on asking tough questions within her community, starting conversation and chipping away at the status quo. Other focus areas for her work include the South Asian community, arts and culture, pop culture, and more. She is a proud Punjabi woman from Surrey, BC.

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