Vancouver based Harbinder Singh Sewak has become the first Canadian publisher to be nominated for a Sikh Award, an annual global awards ceremony.
Organised by The Sikh Directory, the very first Sikh awards were held in London in October 2010, which quickly became a global event. The fourth annual awards ceremony this year will take place in London in November, in which Sewak, founder of the Asian Pacific Post, South Asian Post, Filipino Post - to name a few - was chosen as one of three final nominees (out of 100 entries) for the 'Sikhs in Media' category.
"I'm the first Canadian publisher to be nominated in this category," he told Vancouver Desi. "I was shocked."
But when he heads to the UK this fall, he's not only representing Sikhs, he said.
"(Although) the award is a Sikh award, I feel I'm representing Canada as a whole," said Sewak. "Canada is playing a role in highlighting issues that affect Sikhs all over the world."
"It speaks volumes for multiculturalism."
And that idea is also in line with what he's done in the Lower Mainland Sikh community.
"From a publishing point, I look back at 20 years ago, I was one of the first few people that came out and said we can make ethnic the mainstream," he said. "And we are participating in the mainstream … there's more to the ethnic community than just parades, Chinese New Year and Vaisakhi."
"The community is involved in every aspect in day-to-day life in Canada."
Sewak managed to bring his ethnic newspaper boxes into the downtown core and also became the first South Asian print publisher to win a Webster award in mainstream categories. He was also the co-author of Justice for Jassi, a book following the so-called 'honour killing' of Jaswinder Jassi Sidhu, the 25-year-old Maple Ridge girl who was allegedly murdered in 2000 for marrying an Indian rickshaw driver.
According to Sewak, publicising Sidhu's story was unheard of for the Indian community at the time, but he and Fabian Dawson, editor of Vancouver Desi, wrote the book, created the website justiceforjassi.com and followed her story for more than a decade.
"We kept the website alive, we kept the story alive," said Sewak, adding that he also helped get Sidhu's husband out of jail in India, where he was wrongfully imprisoned for her murder.
Sewak also founded the 3300 BC Regiment Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps (RCACC), the first-ever corps funded by a Sikh community group, The Friends of the Sikh Cadet Corps Society, which now has more than 75 cadets and has seen interest not only in BC, but across Canada, according to Sewak.
The award ceremony will take place November 9 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, UK. More than 800 guests are expected to attend with millions watching the broadcast around the globe.