• Furnace in India

    Welcome to 2016!

    For me 2015 was filled with wonder and a deeper sense of the greatness of Canada, my adopted home. We are blessed with democratic institutions that function reasonably well  and benefit all Canadians. The air we breathe is clean, and the food we eat is abundantly available to most. Access to education and health care is universal. Not all is perfect here, but only a few countries in the world provide this to their citizens.

    On this first day of 2016, I woke up remembering growing up on a small farm in Punjab, India, the country of my birth. My grandfather used to say two things. One, it’s a good habit to walk the land every morning and check out the fields, the animals, and reflect on yesterday and meditate on today. The second thing he used to say was, “Every day the fields are pregnant.” New life is bursting all around us.

    Birth always inspires us. Let each day be all about birthing – birthing new ideas and imaginative ways of living, farming, producing, distributing, and sharing.  Every person deserves to breathe clean air, drink safe water, eat nutritious food, get an education, have meaningful work, and, above all, to live in safe and caring communities.  This is our work together to build a better Canada and a better world for all.

    Happy 2016 !

  • Barj Dhahan and Stewart Beck in Delhi

    Asia Pacific Foundation Looks to Expand to South Asia

    The new president of the Vancouver-based think tank is looking to expand Canadian relations with South Asia and Southeast Asia.

    Asia Pacific Foundation’s new president, Stewart Beck, was Canada’s former High Commissioner to India, and has extensive experience working in the region. Barj Dhahan met with Mr. Beck in New Delhi earlier this year during a visit to India with the Governor General.

    Business in Vancouver interviewed Beck and Barj Dhahan about the appointment and the value of expanding ties with South Asia and Southeast Asia.

    Stewart Beck and Barj Dhahan

    Brenda Beck, Vasu Chanchlani, Stewart Beck and Barj in New Delhi in 2014.

    Read an excerpt from “Stewart Beck: East-West Connector,” published in Business in Vancouver on August 25, 2014:

    Vancouver businessman and philanthropist Barj Dhahan said Beck was a leader in focusing on not only entrepreneurship between India and Canada but also education during his tenure as high commissioner. Beck’s appointment to the foundation is timely, given the growth and opportunities in South Asia, said Dhahan, who is past chair of the Canada India Foundation.

    “Stewart’s appointment is very timely because, as a country and a province, we are certainly looking at Asia, not just at China and Japan but all of Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia. It’s timely that the foundation has a broader focus on all of Asia,” Dhahan said.

    Beck is eager to apply his India experience, coupled with a career-long belief in educating young people on what he calls “business ecosystems,” to shape the next chapter for the foundation.

    He wants the foundation to be well positioned to act as a catalyst to engage young entrepreneurs on both sides of the Pacific as regional Asian economies grow stronger.

    “It’s the Wayne Gretzky thing: skate to where the puck is going to be,” Beck said. “That’s part of the role I think the foundation has.”

    Beck’s hockey analogy comes from experience. Dhahan said that, along with other Canadian officials, the former high commissioner would host an ice hockey tournament in northern India to introduce young Indians to Canada’s national sport as a bridge-building exercise. He was known to bring shipments of hockey sticks, skates and pads from Canada to India.

    “A lot of people in India know about our national sport as a result,” said Dhahan.

    That kind of bridge building pays dividends for both countries, Dhahan said.

    Stewart Beck in Delhi

    Richard Bales (Canadian Consul General, Mumbai) Governor General David Johnston, a guest, and Stewart Beck.

    Read the full story at Business in Vancouver.


  • Building International Collaborations in Health Sciences

    Building relationships between education and community-based institutions here in Canada and internationally is the key to economic development and supporting community growth.

    On Monday June 30, an exciting new agreement of cooperation was finalized between the University of British Columbia and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS). The agreement builds upon the already successful nursing collaboration between both institutions facilitated by Barj Dhahan and the Canada India Education Society.

    After a year of conversations, a statement of cooperation was signed between UBC’s Faculty of Medicine’s School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) and BFUHS. The statement was signed by Gavin C. E. Stuart, MC, FRCSC, Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Vice Provost, Health, UBC; Dr. Shivinder S. Gill, Vice-Chancellor, BFUHS; and David Patrick, MC, Director School of Population & Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, UBC

    “This is an important first step between the institutions to promote the field of Occupational and Environmental Health,” says Barj Dhahan. “This collaboration has a huge potential for improving public health especially in Punjab and Northern India.

    UBC Baba Farid University Agreement with Barj Dhahan

    Back row: Barj Dhahan, Ms. Charanjit Kaur (BFUHS, Nursing, Goindwal College), Mr. HCL Rawat (BFUHS, Nursing, Vice_Principal, Faridkot Colllege). Front row: Dr. Hugh Davies (Associate Professor, SPPH) and Dr. Rajeev Manjahs (BFHUS, International Coordinator; Head, Life Sciences, Library and Information Services).


    The institutions will seek to collaborate in scholarly exchange and research collaboration among faculty, student exchange, and sharing curricular information and teaching methods.

    Barj Dhahan serves as a voluntary advisor to Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and to Vice Chancellor Dr. Gill, and has worked on building successful international collaborations with Canadian universities and researchers.

    “Over the past few years, Dr. Hugh Davies and I have been in discussions regarding collaborating with Baba Farid University of Health Sciences with a focus on environmental and occupational health,” says Barj Dhahan. “BFUHS hopes that this collaboration will bring knowledge and resources towards the development of its own environmental and occupational health study programs.”

    Barj Dhahan UBC Baba Farid agreement

    Back row: Daniella Weber (International Manager, Dean’s Office, International Affairs), Prof. Karen Bartlett (SPPH, MSc. Program Director), Barj Dhahan, Ms. Charanjit Kaur (BFUHS, Nursing, Goindwal College), Mr. HCL Rawat (BFUHS, Nursing, Vice_Principal, Faridkot Colllege). Front row: Dr. Hugh Davies (Associate Professor, SPPH) and Dr. Rajeev Manjahs (BFHUS, International Coordinator; Head, Life Sciences, Library and Information Services).

  • Community Ambassador Award Barj Dhahan

    Barj Receives Community Ambassador Award

    The Writers International Network Canada awarded Barj Dhahan the Community Ambassador Award.

    Community Ambassador Award Barj Dhahan

    Barj Dhahan,  Zayra Yves (author and artist), Ashok Bhargava (president, WINC), Lt. General P.D. Bhargava (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Amity University)

  • Philippines Independence Day 2014 gala Vancouver

    Celebrating Philippines Independence Day

    This year, the Filipino community celebrated the 116th anniversary of Philippines independence.

    Filipino Canadians are proud that their ancestors fought the first revolution against western colonial rule in Asia. On June 13, I was fortunate enough to attend a gala commemorating Philippines Independence Day at the Renaissance Hotel in Vancouver.

    Elena Agala and Barj Dhahan

    Elena Agala and Barj at the Philippines Independence Day gala


    I am fortunate to know Elena Agala, seen with me in the photo above. She is well known within the Filipino Canadian community, and has been instrumental in supporting relief and development in the Philippines through the network of Rotary Clubs in the Lower Mainland. In January 2014, she lead a team of dentists and educators to the typhoon stricken areas in the Philippines to provide relief, supplies (clothes and medical) and dental care. This Rotary Dental Mission was a partnership between Caring Hearts Dentistry Society (Richmond), Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise, and Rotary World Helps.

    Many families were affected by the natural disaster that hit the Philippines. Khalsa Diwan Society Vancouver provided a donation of $3,000, and I also contributed to this effort. In the past I have also supported similar efforts when families of some of our workers have been effected by natural disasters in the Philippines.

    Showing compassion and supporting communities is an important part of being Canadian, and I am happy to have been a part of the Independence Day celebrations.