Dalvir Nahal is the March Community Champion for Respect Works Here. (Contributed)

Dalvir Nahal is the March Community Champion for Respect Works Here. (Contributed)

Community Champion: Intertwining cultures to break stereotypes

‘At the end of the day, it’s about getting to know each other,’ Dalvir Nahal says

A conversation with Dalvir Nahal is noteworthy for her enthusiasm, her compassion and her brilliant smile.

Yet, beyond those personal traits what really shines is her concern for community and making life better for others. It compels her to step forward into new responsibilities.

Nahal was born the third daughter with the customary burden of dowry to parents in India. A recent revelation about how her life has been shaped in resistance to the traditional cultural value of boys over girls, motivated her to make her own path.

She speaks of the freedom she has enjoyed in Canada and the support of her family through many pursuits including moving to Vancouver as a single woman in her 30s.

Nahal’s perspective of having privilege through opportunities underlie her desire to encourage women and girls.

“One thing I really teach in our community is how important it is for every child especially girls to live on their own because you learn that you can be independent; you can be successful, and I hope that enables women to feel more secure about themselves.”

Nahal has always been proud of her culture and is grateful to her parents for maintaining their language and celebrations after immigrating to Vernon in 1977.

Although describing her school as welcoming, Nahal remembers being called ethnic slurs and couldn’t understand why.

Once, she physically defended her brother who was teased about his turban. After getting in trouble for the episode at home, Nahal quickly changed her approach to education and laughs about how she made her Grade 2 classmates watch a Bollywood movie.

This intertwining of cultures, Nahal believes is one way to break stereotypes.

“I’m very mindful of labelling people as racist when it might just be ignorance,” she explains.

“We shouldn’t stereotype people. At the end of the day, it’s about getting to know each other.”

Sharing Indian culture was the premise for her founding Vernon’s popular Bollywood, a fundraising event that ran for six years.

She also volunteered on Vernon Jubilee Hospital’s Foundation Board raising enough in three years to name two emergency and treatment rooms.

Nahal’s fundraising experience began through celebrating Lohri, an annual Sikh festival that involves going door-to-door collecting money for a cause.

All together, her initiatives have raised nearly half-a-million dollars for local charities. Although facing her own health challenge, Nahal is acutely aware and concerned for others including international students separated from family and communal prayer due to COVID-19, and for those struggling with addiction or on the streets.

“I’ve always understood that we’re all the same; we just have different life circumstances.”

She talks passionately about ending the stigma of overdose, addressing underlying issues and promoting healing.

Nahal doesn’t shy away from those tough conversations.

“When I got cancer, I didn’t know what my purpose was, but I realized I had a higher purpose in this community. If not for cancer I wouldn’t have started Bollywood, I probably wouldn’t have run for council, but I thought what do I have to lose, except to prove I’m as good as a boy.”

The monthly Community Champion feature is submitted by Respect Works Here, which is an initiative of the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan. They are also the host agency for the Local Immigration Partnership Council and the Thompson Okanagan Respect Network.

READ MORE: Community champion loves giving back

READ MORE: Community Champion: Youngest OKIB council member listens to heart, follows dreams


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Vernon Curling Club has been selected to host the 2022 B.C. Mixed Doubles championships Feb. 9-13, and will also the 2022 B.C. Winter Games curling competitions Feb. 24-27. (Morning Star - file photo)
Local club will host B.C. Mixed Doubles and B.C. Winter Games curling in February 2022

The Vernon Curling Club is among the host sites for Curl B.C.’s… Continue reading

The Regional District of North Okanagan prepared to fine individuals $100 if caught verbally abusing landfill staff amid COVID-19. (RDNO Website)
Limit North Okanagan landfill visits to essential trips: RDNO

Regional district reminds patrons to be respectful of staff amid high-traffic pandemic times

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

Vernon Search and Rescue’s helicopter team was asked to be on standby to rescue a missing hiker in Naramata. (Air Rescue One/VSAR photo)
Lost hiker rescued in Okanagan Mountain Park

COSAR, PENSAR, and VSAR worked together to rescue a hiker in Okanagan Mountain Park

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Increased COVID-19 activity brings vaccine clinic to Enderby

Registration opens Tuesday, April 20 for May clinic for anyone over the age of 18

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
‘Do not occupy’ order lifted, residents of West Kelowna apartment allowed to return home

The building was evacuated early Sunday morning due to a strange smell

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

courts
Penticton man guilty of assaulting young boys

Bryan Lamb was found guilty of two counts of assault

Abandoned Rail Brewing Company, located at 1220 Davenport Ave. on the KVR trail, has applied to the City of Penticton for a manufacturing facility and lounge endorsement. The city will review the application in their April 20, 2021 council meeting. (City of Penticton photo)
A new brewery could be coming to the KVR trail in the South Okanagan

The patio would seat up to 113 just 10 feet from the trail

Most Read