Four South Asian women nominated for YWCA Women of Distinction Awards

FOUR South Asian women from Metro Vancouver have been nominated for the 32nd Annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards this year.

The awards will be presented on May 26 at Vancouver Convention Centre.


Sandra Singh All photos courtesy YWCA
Sandra Singh
All photos courtesy YWCA

SANDRA SINGH has been nominated in the “Education, Training and Development” category. Her citation reads:

“Through her exemplary service as the Chief Librarian of the Vancouver Public Library, Sandra promotes and enhances life-long learning, community development and free community programming. Her vision, passion and outreach to community members and partner organizations has propelled the library to the forefront of learning services in Metro Vancouver and reinforced the understanding of libraries as critical knowledge and social infrastructure. Catalyzed by Sandra’s enthusiasm and leadership, the library has embarked upon countless programs and activities to better serve Vancouver library patrons. She spearheaded the creation of the National Centre for Equitable Library Access to enhance services to Canadians with print disabilities, and championed the Inspiration Lab, a bold, energetic space that enables library patrons to access new technologies to create, explore and design.

(Editor’s Note: Sandra was born in Fiji. Her dad is Indo-Nepali and her mom is German. In 2010, at 37, Sandra Singh, who was born in Fiji and whose family came to Canada in 1975, becomes the youngest person to head a major library in this country.)


Barinder Rasode
Barinder Rasode

BARINDER RASODE has been nominated in the “Non-Profit or Public Service: category. Her citation reads:

“A resourceful and well-respected City of Surrey Councillor for two past terms, Barinder holds a steadfast belief that citizens can participate in decision-making processes and create meaningful and effective dialogue. With that goal, she spearheaded the city’s first ever Community Summit to help build citizen capacity. She is also credited with bringing the issue of domestic abuse to the forefront in BC, as her work with the City’s Crime Reduction Strategy led to the creation of the Surrey Coalition Against Domestic Abuse and Rakhi Project, as well as new prevention and awareness programs. She has given countless hours to supporting the efforts of the Women’s Campaign School and Canadian Women Voters Congress, as a keynote speaker, panelist and advocate for the importance of women’s voices in public leadership.”


Zoya Jiwa
Zoya Jiwa

ZOYA JIWA has been nominated in the “Young Woman of Distinction” category. Her citation reads:

“At only 20 years of age, Zoya served as an extraordinary role model to young women, embracing her diagnosis of Lupus as an opportunity to help others.  Zoya has devoted countless hours to mentoring, guiding and supporting more than 3,000 youth locally and nationally through “Simply You”, a grassroots program she developed to build self-esteem, self-awareness and leadership skills.    She has devoted her time to worthwhile causes including Project HELLO, volunteering as a camp counsellor at the Arthritis Society’s Educational Retreat for children and mentors other youth with Lupus. Now a university student at SFU, Zoya stands out as a celebrated and sought-after motivational speaker and workshop facilitator.


Suneet Maan
Suneet Maan

SUNEET MAAN has also been nominated in the same category. Her citation reads:

“Since introducing Jump Rope for Heart in her elementary school, Suneet has always demonstrated vision, creativity and dedication in all of her volunteer initiatives.  Working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and using her title as Miss Teen Canada, she has worked hard to promote healthy eating and exercise to youth across the country. She has also worked to help young women find their unique individuality and confidence through volunteering with the YWCA’s That’s Just Me after-school program for girls and by spearheading the Princess Myth project.  In her first year of law school at UBC she is already involved with a number of organizations that help raise awareness about legal issues on a local and global front.”