Viti Vibes, meaning “Fiji Vibes,” is a new local television show that aims to create a safe space to highlight and showcase Fijian youth in traditional media.
The show premiered on May 6 on Shaw Multicultural channel, and is the first of its kind to not only exclusively recognize and support Fijian youth, but to also be directed and produced by a youth of Fijian heritage as well.
The show was created by 22-year-old Shannon Permal, an Indo-Fijian Canadian residing in Surrey, who is also a full-time student at Simon Fraser University, and an avid volunteer in the community.
“In my personal experience of being born and raised in Surrey, it was a struggle to figure out my identity and feel connected to my cultural roots and community because we do not have many exclusive platforms available to us,” Permal said in an interview with 5X Press.
There is a robust South Asian population in Surrey, and Fijians make up a very small portion of it. Because of that, it is not often that we get to see our Fijian community members -- especially youth -- be represented.
“Having Fijian youth exclusively showcased brings attention to our small but mighty ethnic minority group,” Permal said.
Being a minority group in an overwhelmingly South Asian population comes along with its own set of challenges and stereotypes. Thankfully, Viti Vibes is giving youth an opportunity to shift the narrative and diversify the voices and stories heard in the community.
It also gives guests on the show and viewers at home the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the media they consume.
Each weekly segment of the show features a Fijian youth who shares their story, sparks conversation on important topics, and inevitably inspires viewers to chase their dreams.
Permal said Viti Vibes “recognizes the incredibly underrated” Fijian youth. It also fosters a sense of comradery within the community, as viewers come together to highlight and celebrate the various achievements of members belonging to the ethnic group.
“Ultimately, our show is meant to promote unity and give rise to the voices, stories, thoughts, and opinions of Fijian youth in our society,” she said.
Aside from giving Fijian youth a platform to share their stories, another motive of the show is to provide a safe space for them to be able to have open discussions about issues and initiatives that are relevant to their lives.
“Young people in general have a much more different outlook on life than the generations before, so we want to be able to put Fijian youth’s thoughts, opinions, and knowledge out on a large television platform” Permal said.
This is important because it not only works to bridge the gap between parents and children, but also creates more understanding within the wider community.
“Hopefully as a community and as a society at-large, we can learn from each other and become more progressive. Even as a non-Fijian viewer, you can watch the show and learn about issues that may even relate to your group,” she continued.
Permal is passionate about educating others on Fijian culture and her drive is best reflected through her impressive palette of community work.
She is the Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Fiji Organizations (CFOFO), Executive Director for Miss Fiji Canada Cultural Society and Public Relations Director for Fiji Canada Professionals Women’s Network Society.
“Through these organizations, I aim to create opportunities, educate and empower youth as well as fundraise for a number of charitable causes, both locally and internationally,” she said.
Some of her community service work includes organizing youth events and workshops, visiting local senior homes, organizing mental health training programs for Fijian youth, and hosting a number of fundraising events to be able to help charities such as BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Surrey Hospital Foundation and Treasure House Orphanage in Nadi, Fiji.
“Most recently, my CFOFO team and I were able to donate over $20,000.00FJD to TISI Sangam Society of Fiji for natural disaster relief aid and assistance following the recent cyclones that occurred in Fiji,” Permal said.
So far Viti Vibes has welcomed various guests on the show who are community driven, artistic, and entrepreneurial Fijian youths that work hard to accomplish their goals. Although their paths are different, they all share a commonality in being unapologetic in what they stand for and following their dreams no matter which challenges arise.
And just to clarify, you don’t have to be Fijian to watch, enjoy, or feel inspired by the show.
Regardless of race, ethnicity or any other classifications, we are all people who deserve to have our stories and voices heard. With that being said, I invite you to catch the show with a friend or a family member, and to truly enjoy the Viti Vibes the show has to offer.
You can tune in every Thursday at 10pm and Sunday at 4:30pm on Shaw Multicultural Channel, or catch the episodes on Youtube.
Viti Vibes also openly invites all young individuals of Fijian descent to be a part of their show. For anyone who would like to join Permal as a guest or join their youth production team behind the scenes, you can reach out to her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manisha is a writer and reporter with previous radio and television experience, who is passionate about connecting audiences to the stories and voices that matter to them most. Check her out on Instagram: @exclusivelymanisha
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