Encouraging cultural discourse: KPU receives generous endowment for journalism

Empowering stories of South Asian pioneers who helped build Canada over the last century encouraged one publishing family to urge South Asian students to pursue journalism. With hopes for Canadian journalism as a whole to better reflect Canadian society, the Vig family created the Mehfil Magazine Journalism Award. Their endowment gift this year is a generous $20,000. This award will be given to exceptional undergraduate journalism students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).

Rana Vig has worked closely with KPU in the past and the Surrey-based university has been one of their key supporters. His family is proud to have made this year’s contribution, as it hit the $100,000 mark for theMehfil Magazine-endowed fund.

“We live and do a lot of business in Surrey, which is also home to a majority South Asian community. It made sense to do to something there,” says Vig.

Encouraging cultural discourse

Vig launched the Mehfil Magazine in 1993 with the help of his brother.

“It was the first glossy magazine of its kind introduced to the South Asian community,” he says.

The magazine showcases South Asian culture to its own community, but also to the broader Canadian society. It creates the opportunity to enhance multicultural harmony.

Over the years, it has touched on various socio-political and contemporary issues the South Asian community continues to face, including sexual abuse, arranged marriage and adapting to cultural and generational change.

“The publication was also starting to educate both South Asian and non-South Asian communities about the contributions we were making,” says Vig.

100 year journey

Rana and Rupa Vig, along with their sons Arvind and Akash. | Photo Courtesy by Katie Miller

Rana and Rupa Vig, along with their sons Arvind and Akash. | Photo Courtesy by Katie Miller

The award was possible largely because of proceeds from the launch of their publication 100 Year Journey. The book carries a century-old commemoration of bold and courageous stories of South Asian visionaries and their roles in building the foundations of modern-day Canada.

Vig founded the 100 Year Journey as a gift back to the community – one that could be passed on for generations.

Vig says he came up with the idea as a result of compiling numerous stories, old and new, from their magazine.

“The Mehfil Magazine had a final column called ‘reflections’ –
probably the most popular column we had,” says Vig. “We came up with the idea to combine these reflections into a powerful publication that celebrates the lives of South Asian pioneers.”

The inauguration of the book was held on November 29th at the Pacific Rim Fairmont Hotel. Proceeds from the event were contributed towards the Mehfil Magazine endowment.

“The event was a great success. All the copies of our book were sold out on the day,” says Vig.

The book, much like the award, can be a tool to bridge cross-cultural understanding by featuring some of the remarkable achievements made by the visionaries.

100 year Journey book | Photo courtesy of Rona Vig

100 year Journey book | Photo courtesy of Rana Vig

With this year’s endowment, Vig says, he had a vision to do something a little different: the award will encourage discussion about the role and significance of ethnicity and cultural background in contemporary journalism.

The aim is to promote journalism that takes into consideration the culturally diverse society in which we live today.

Applications are available for journalism students entering their third year at KPU, and will require a 500-word essay submission on a topic related to South Asian culture or current affairs.

As for the future, Vig says, the next month will mark the release of a digital edition of the 100 Year Journey with stories translated into three languages.

Learn more at www.kpu.ca/arts/journalism/scholarships