Coast Capital has highlighted the shared value their organization finds in sponsoring the Dhahan Youth Award.
The Award, open to students across B.C., recognizes 8 students yearly with a $500 cheque for their short story writing in Punjabi and translation to English. Stories are published in a yearly Anthology titled, ‘Lofty Heights.’
The anthology is also translated into French, and transliterated into Shahmukhi from Gurmukhi (the two scripts used in the Punjabi language). It is used in select classrooms as a teaching tool.
“We wanted to engage with and inspire our next generation of Punjabi writers,” explains Barj Dhahan, co-founder of the Award. “By giving them an opportunity to be rewarded for their excellence in storytelling, and by publishing their stories so others can read them, they learn how much their language skills are valued.”
The eight winning students are presented with their award at the ceremonies of the adult-focused Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature. The event offers students first-hand exposure to a large audience, as well as an opportunity to network with those present, including esteemed international authors.
In 2023, the Award opened to Indigenous student story submissions. Through jury selection, two Indigenous stories will be translated into Punjabi by student peers. They will also be published in the year’s anthology.
Coast Capital Savings has been a primary sponsor of the Award since its inception year in 2017.
“Through our partnership with the Dhahan Youth Award, we’re able to support a program that highlights to students across B.C. the multicultural character of Canada,” remarked Michael Wong, Director, Business Banking. “[It] helps to prepare them with the knowledge and understanding to engage with different cultures – key to living in the world we live in today.”
“It reaffirms our commitment to a bold, transformational and intentional strategy designed to deliver meaningful outcomes which include fostering inclusivity and equality,” Wong said.
Wong proceeded to elaborate on how a student-based linguistic award can affect communities at large, not just students who submit stories.
“The competition empowers youth to reconnect with their families’ roots, allowing them a means to more broadly articulate their own culture amongst other students. We believe that this contributes to building more inclusive communities…
“The initiative plays an essential role in empowering students to be allies for building inclusive, equitable and regenerative economies,” he explained.
Wong also expressed regard for the growth of the Youth Award over the years.
“The initiative offers a partnership opportunity for us to collaborate with other local businesses and entities like the Surrey School District. This has resulted in our ability to directly engage with students, teachers and other partners for shared value,” he said.