Zoom conference screenshot shows Shakti Awards watchers on March 8.

Zoom conference screenshot shows Shakti Awards watchers on March 8.

‘Heartwarming conversations’ but no awards at Surrey’s Shakti Awards, held online March 8

Past award recipients among speakers

** This story has been updated

Timed with International Women’s Day, Surrey’s Shakti Awards event went online March 8.

The annual gathering aims to honour women who have displayed strength and excellence, and this year went “virtual” for the first time, in its 21st year.

“Though no awards were presented to women this year, the evening was well attended and appreciated as founder Sonia Andhi moderated authentic and heartwarming conversations with past Shakti Award recipients Shelina Mawani, Shahnaz Rahman and Karen Dosanjh,” said a post-event news release.

The awards event is hosted by Surrey-based Shakti Society, a non-profit organization “dedicated to empowering individuals, families and communities,” according to a post at shaktisociety.com.

In 2020, 14 women were given Shakti Awards during a gala dinner at Surrey’s Bollywood Banquet Hall.

Tickets for this year’s online event were on a sliding scale from $1 to $25, at eventbrite.ca.

Scholarships were given to Prabhleen Cheema and Janesha Rai of L.A. Matheson Secondary, and Sierra Podgurny of Kwantlen Park Secondary. Said Andhi: “We are fortunate that we have been able to support young women from our community in the last few years and helped continue the spirit of ‘Shakti’ into the next generation.”

Guest speaker Dr. Balbir Gurm reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on women in relation to domestic violence, and Anju Bedi and Simi performed music and comedy.

Some local politicians also took in the event, including MLAs Rachna Singh, Jinny Sims and Stephanie Cadieux, and MPs Ken Hardie and Sukh Dhaliwal.

Shakti Society’s Facebook page boasts more than 1,600 followers.

• RELATED STORY: New festival in Surrey focuses on women in film, both behind camera and on screen.

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