A Kwantlen Polytechnic University graduate whose volunteer work made an immediate impact in the fight against opioid overdoses is KPU’s 2022 Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner.
Gurkirat Singh Nijjar will receive the award June 24 during convocation ceremonies at the university’s Surrey campus.
Nijjar, 26, came to KPU in 2015 as an international student and he quickly became instrumental in developing and supporting community programs on his way to earning an associate of science degree in biology in 2017.
As founder of the non-profit youth-led organization SOUDA—Students Overcoming Substance Use Disorder and Addictions Society of Canada—Nijjar is responsible for bringing life-saving resources to our community. Since September 2019, Nijjar has led his team of volunteers to set up opioid overdose response and prevention booths at community events, places of worship and parks. Team SOUDA offers education, resources, naloxone training and conversation in four languages to help break the stigma and encourage harm reduction strategies.
Nijjar has also worked to improve pedestrian road safety in the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey through a road safety campaign. In addition, Nijjar has made time to volunteer with Chimo Community Services’ crisis line program, along with volunteering in the community kitchen of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and the food bank.
During the pandemic, Nijjar served as a bridge between KPU International student services and the South Asian COVID Task Force to share information and resources. He is also a Fraser Health wellness ambassador and serves as a community outreach director at One Voice Canada.
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes KPU alumni under age 30 at the time of nomination who have demonstrated sustained levels of community service while making a significant or innovative impact in their chosen profession. It also acknowledges those who’ve maintained involvement with KPU or alumni activities since graduation.
“The KPU Alumni Association is very pleased to be awarding Gurkirat with the Outstanding Young Alumni award,” says Nancy Armitage, executive director of the KPU Alumni Association, on Friday. “He truly exemplifies the intent of this award by going above and beyond in service to others in our communities.”