The Surrey Board of Trade, as part of their cultural industry strategy, will present the 3rd Surrey Arts & Business Awards on June 14 (Registration and Breakfast 7:30am and the Program is from 8:00-9:30am at the Civic Hotel-13475 Central Avenue).

This event is free to attend but pre-registration is required at

The awards will be presented by the BC Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Honourable Lisa Beare.

1. Philanthropy Award: 
Awarded to an individual or business that has generously contributed to arts and culture through grants, donations or other investments.
a. Perminder Chohan

Perminder Chohan has always come across with a strong passion and vision for helping others and making a difference. His heartfelt humanitarian work easily displays the characteristics and attributes of a philanthropist to the community at large. He has created jobs for over 500 individuals who were new to the country since 2000. His philanthropic beneficiaries include the Surrey Food Bank, BC Cultural Academy, and BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

b. Charan Sethi

Charan Sethi and the Tien Sher Group of Companies have been strong supporters of Surrey, particularly in Whalley. Through his efforts, in partnership with others, Whalley was recognized and created as a historic district. His support of the Flamingo Square Arts Initiative and its integration of supporting live music has been instrumental in making Surrey a music city. Charan is a leader in his support of arts, music, theatre, education and cultural experiences by building spaces that enhance cultural livability in Surrey.

c. Jim Trimble

Jim Trimble contributes to Surrey’s performing arts industry through his work with the Surrey Vaudevillians, formed in 2002, where he served as the resident master of ceremonies for all performances. The Vaudevillians started with a small group of seniors offering a vibrant ensemble of dance, music, song and comedy. Jim helped establish the vaudevillian organization as a registered charity and was responsible for establishing a bursary for art students. In 2016, he founded the Naked Stage Production Society and continues to serve as its President. Naked Stage performs a handful of plays each year at the Newton Cultural Centre.

2. Cultural Ambassador: 
Awarded to an individual or business that has significantly contributed to Surrey’s arts and cultural community and raised the visibility of Surrey’s creative industry.
a. Shara Nixon

Shara Nixon started as a Volunteer Coordinator with the Surrey Children’s Festival, signing up hundreds of festival volunteers. She then joined the Board of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company, eventually becoming its President.  Under her guidance, the RC Theatre was able to gain financial strength, secure stable rehearsal space and create a strong functioning theatre company with significant community impact. Shara was instrumental in fundraising, strategic planning, financial and legal assistance, capacity building and foundational support giving the theatre company the space it needed to create live theatre productions.

b. Renée Sarojini Saklikar

Renee’s role as the first Poet Laureate from 2015-2018 was significant because it built support and awareness to the literary arts in Surrey. She continues to inspire and nurture young writers through her work as the 2019 Surrey English Teachers’ Association (SETA) Writer-in-Residence, offering workshops to teens at high schools throughout Surrey. Renée demonstrates her passion for connecting people of all ages and backgrounds through poetry. She mentors diverse writers and writing groups including the Cedar Bark Poets in Newton Grove. In addition she mentors residents at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre, helping to break down barriers to bring people together to share in the joys of storytelling and writing.

c. Amarjeet Singh Vabhana

Amarjeet is an ambassador for Canada’s cultural diversity, music and art. He is a bridge that joins people of different cultural traditions in their love of music and art. He is the founder of the Naad Foundation, a musical and cultural training and exposition centre that helps troubled youth to stay away from drugs and gang violence through music and arts. He promotes music, inspires and teaches exceptionally talented young students. The Naad Foundation has cultivated local talent and represents Canada’s cultural diversity at many international events in countries such as USA, Uzbekistan and Germany.

3. Legacy Award: 
Awarded for a rich and enlightening career in the arts, this individual or business may be celebrating a milestone anniversary or capping off a long career in the creative economy industry. Ultimately Surrey is more vibrant for their long-standing contributions.
a. Terry Armitage

Terry opened Accent Guitar Studio and Canopy Productions in Surrey in 1983. Since then, Accent has grown as a staple in Surrey’s creative economy industry. His students ranges from 6 years to 85 years old. His contributions are many, including developing a pilot program for troubled teens at the Whalley Youth Centre; working as a mentor for the City of Surrey Band-Aid program; working as a member of the Registry of Guitar Tutors and helping to set the standards in guitar education across Canada; working with the BC Ministry of Education to set up external music credits for Grades 10 – 12; and, writing several guitar books, some of which have reached the bestseller list in the United Kingdom.

b. Devinder Hundal

Devinder was only 9 years old when an accident occurred leaving him blind. However, this did not stop him from pursuing his passion for music. He arrived in Canada 40 years ago and has been teaching students from all over the region, specifically in Surrey because of its thriving South Asian population. Devinder’s ability to identify talent at the first encounter is well known.  Through his 40 years of teaching music, he has taught thousands of students, many of them winning awards internationally. Devinder has also performed at the Bell Performing Arts Centre, Surrey Arts Centre, and at other Surrey events.

c. Chris Thornley

Chris is a talented artist and musician dedicated to the growth and appreciation of Surrey’s creative industry. Not only did he make Surrey home to his creative agency for almost 39 years, he has also spent countless hours volunteering his time on community boards and sharing his musical talent throughout Surrey. He may have retired from the 9am-5pm agency life in 2018, but he has no plans to stop contributing to the arts in Surrey. In fact, he has spent even more time supporting arts and music over the past year. He works closely with the Surrey Food Bank, Surrey Libraries and the Surrey Arts Centre including their ‘Stand Up for the Arts’ campaign. His art (in various forms) has supported business and non-profit organizations, helping Surrey as a whole grow as a creative destination.

4. Arts & Innovation Award: 
Awarded for originality, ingenuity, and resourcefulness within the creative sector (music, dance, visual art, literature).
a. Brotherhood Dance Crew
Founded by Scott Forsyth in the basement of a Surrey church in 2011, Brotherhood is a 15-member all-male hip hop group, incorporating storytelling in their performances, known for being one of the most entertaining and synchronized dance crews in the world. 11 of Brotherhood’s 15 dancers call Surrey home. Brotherhood performs and competes internationally, winning numerous dance titles. For example, they won first-place at the Vibe Dance Competition in Costa Mesa, California. Brotherhood was featured on NBC’s World of Dance Season 2. They say that dance is a tricky sport/art; it’s subjective and is judged based on the opinion of others. Their philosophy is: “Don’t take yourself too seriously and never let the opinions of others determine your self-worth. Just keep creating, inspiring, and remember your purpose.”

b. Nina Buddhde, Vois Creatives
Nina Buddhdev, inspirator, heritage arts advocate, consultant, artiss mentor and visual artist, is a seeker of potentials and creator of opportunities. Her fulfilment comes from seeing the arts thrive. The advocacy nature of her work has created an interconnected and evolving cultural movement. As a systems influencer, innovator, thought leader, and community champion Nina’s philosophy and progressive ideas continue to inspire excellence in BC’s arts and culture sector. With over 16 years in the creative management field, Nina Buddhdev is known to empower transformative ideation, incubation and strategic planning for professional, emerging and aspiring artists, organizations and communities.

c. Alex Sangha, She Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society
Alex Sangha is a Surrey-based senior producer behind multiple international award winning local short documentary called, ‘My Name Was January’. This documentary film is a celebration of January Marie Lapuz’s life, a transgender woman of colour who was murdered in September 2012 in New Westminster, BC. This film is about remembering the impact that January had on the lives of everyone she encountered. It is about uplifting the narratives and lived experiences of trans women of colour. This film aimed to collectively liberate all marginalized and oppressed people. ‘My Name was January’ has garnered many international awards and recognition in Canada, Norway, India, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA.

5. Music Award

Awarded to an individual or company that either supports musicians or has excelled in the musical industry.
a. Sami Ghawi
Sami is the Director of FUSIONpresents Ltd. Founded in 2002, FUSIONpresents provides quality entertainment to many venues throughout the Metro Vancouver region. The company, and Sami himself, have provided entertainment for numerous events at the Surrey Arts Centre, the Surrey Museum, Fusion Festival, corporate events and spaces. Sami also provides entertainment for charities, such as the MS and Leukemia Societies. Sami as also a member of the Surrey Board of Trade’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee and leads, through his own time, the Surrey Music City Centre initiative.

b. Ranj Singh
Ranj has been playing music professionally in Surrey since 1984. In 2006, he started playing his own original music sharing songs of love, peace, and touching on topics of bullying, alcohol abuse and stories about Punjabi culture. He has played in Folk Festivals throughout North America, seven hockey games at the 2010 Winter Olympics, CBC Radio and CBC TV. To him, music is medicine and the rewards he has witnessed are immense.

c. Richard Tichelman
Richard has been actively pursuing a music career since the age of 14. From the Roxy Night Club to the Surrey Children’s Festival, he has been hand selecting his covers and originals. For over 5 years, Richard has won awards, received scholarships and travelled across Canada and the USA to perform. He received the Don Welden Memorial Award at the Calgary Stampede. Richard has been accepted in the CBC Searchlight Competition, released two EPs which included 7 new songs on Spotify and iTunes, and recorded 3 new songs in Los Angeles with producers ‘The Trackheads’.

This event is sponsored by:
Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Media sponsors: 107.7 Pulse FM and Surrey Now-Leader Media Group