5th Annual India Centre Awards Dinner

The India Centre’s 5th Annual Awards Dinner was hosted on October 25th, 2019 at Canad Inns Destination Centre Polo Park. Ms. Jay Grewal, President and CEO, Manitoba Hydro, was the evening’s Chief Guest and Honouree, receiving the India Centre Lifetime Achievement Award, and keynote speaker.

Appointed in February 2019, Ms. Grewal is the first woman to hold this position in the utility’s 58-year history.  She held a series of executive roles in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories in the utility, resource and consulting sectors, including that of Chief Financial Officer of BC Hydro.  She has also been an active member of various non-profit boards, including the BC United Way Campaign, the BC Children’s Hospital Miracle Network, and the UBC Board of Governors.

Over 200 guests were seated for a buffet of traditional Indian cuisine complete with a dessert of Ras Malai and Chai tea while Diya candles burned brightly on each table. 

The purpose of the annual India Centre Gala Awards Dinners are to help raise funds in support their ongoing efforts to provide students with opportunities that include: scholarships, workshops, public seminars of social, cultural and economic issues, and public forums to name a few. India Centre has successfully raised $100,000 to date.   

The evening began with both national anthems (Indian and Canadian) sung by Lakshika Prasad.  This was followed by greetings by Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Pawan Singal, Chair, India Centre Gala Dinner and Ms. Hasmita Trivedi, President, India Association of Manitoba and Dr. James Currie, Provost and Vice-President Academic, The University of Winnipeg. 

It was pointed out that the timing for this dinner seemed perfect, with it being the first day of Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, one of India’s largest celebrations of the year and also the day that Manitoba Hydro announced power had been completely restored to the province following the early October snowstorm.

The Honourable Cathy Cox, Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage on behalf of the Premier of Manitoba welcomed guests and spoke of the importance of supporting the community.  The Hon. Rochelle Squires MLA for Riel, Minister of Municipal Relations was also in attendance.

Ms. Grewal talked about the front line people at Manitoba Hydro and their sacrifices and said, “Front-line people left their homes within 15 minutes of getting the call and didn't return home until tonight.  They worked 16 hour days.”  She said that employees left home without knowing when they’d be back, and without packing extra clothes or luxuries and many did not return to their families even for Thanksgiving dinner.

She then talked about her personal history and life journey to where she is today.  Ms. Grewal spoke of her parents being first generation Indo-Canadian, from Punjab.  She and her siblings were born and raised in Nanaimo, B.C.  Ms. Grewal explained that there weren't any supports for Indo-Canadian families when she was young, but her parents laid a good foundation for their children early in life.  It began with four pillars, some of which, she says, are unusual considering her background and culture.

Pillar number one, Ms. Grewal said, is “Believe in yourself.”  She explained that we should not let gender or other people define our life.  She said she always had the full support of her parents, even when she wanted to leave home to attend university, and in her interracial marriage.  Her choices were supported, and her parents trusted her decisions.

The second pillar, is that “we are all equal,” and that everyone should be supported, respected and receive compassion.  As the CEO of Manitoba Hydro, Ms. Grewal explained that, “I provided support to everyone in the organization, and my interaction is always the same, regardless of position.”

Optimism is the third pillar described.  “There is always a solution,” confirmed Ms. Grewal.  Her parents wanted their children to be spiritual, and to “believe in something beyond ourselves.”  It’s unusual for the culture, but Ms. Grewal said she and her siblings were sent to a Catholic church every Sunday.   

“This (belief) allowed me to take on challenging problems and demonstrate willingness.”

Fourth and final, is the pillar of hard work and persistence.  She said her parents modeled this behavior for their children.  One example she gives is when her father walked six kilometers to work in order to leave the car at home for her mother to drive the kids around.  She tells of a time in life when her parents took 11 new immigrants into their home to help them get their start in Canada. Their household used to always be full and active.  Her parents were also cautious and frugal, making dishcloths from flour sacks and tending to a huge garden to supply ample food for the family.

Ms. Grewal received a standing ovation before UWinnipeg students and other guests greeted her personally as the evening came to an end.

Professional images and/or links to photographs will be posted in the coming weeks.

Thank you to our event sponsors.

Please feel free to view our Report on Activities - 2014- 2018 for more information on India Centre activities.

Photo Credits: Amit Khedekar