Rarely do we get to see 2 nations coming together with a common goal and virtually working towards a shared vision emphatically for the welfare of not just the states, but creating a Healthy Civil Society. This mammoth task was achieved by one man who conceived the idea of building links between Canada and India through Patient engagement, Innovation and Technology.
It’s been about an year I had met Dr.Arun Garg, the man behind this magnificent movement called Canada Indian Network Society (CINS), a Non Profit created with a one pointed vision of Wellness for humanity. His noble intentions lead to the one of a kind conference, Canada India Network Initiative – CINI which is held every 4 years bringing the best of the both worlds together, not just in in the Health Care, but the policy makers, politicians, administrators, research scientists, Technology experts as we all experts in ancient wisdom practices like Yoga, Meditation and TCM.
CINS has conducted 2 conferences so far, one in 2010, second one in 2014 and now the 3rd conference in 2018.
The location of conference was none other than the Simon Fraser University in the City of Surrey, which is a melting pot of cultures, languages and mindsets.
The conference was spread across 4 days from June 8th till June 11th with different mediums of sharing and disseminating knowledge and wisdom from across the globe.
The opening ceremonies saw the cream of the world come together under one umbrella in the Surrey City Hall Chambers which was cohosted in partnership with the City of Surrey.
The evening was filled with a unique fragrance of elegant personalities from within the Lower mainland and across the globe.
The highlight of the evening is the presentation of Life Time Achievement Awards to the Achievers, Builders, Connectors, Dreamers, Healers and the Leaders in the field of Health Care.
The awards were presented to some of the most eminent personalities who have contributed immensely and selflessly to the Human wellness in many dimensions.
The Nine noble change makers who were honored are Dr.Pratap Reddy, Dr.Arvnind Lal, Dr.Gurdev Gill, Dr.Devendra Goel, Dr.Asha Seth, Dr.Simon Sutcliffe, Dr.Gulzar Cheema, Dr.Mike Allard and Dr.Arun Chockalingam.
The evening has also seen some esteemed dignitaries like President and CEO of Fraser Health Michael Marchbank, Counsel General of India Her Excellency Abhilasha Joshi, City of Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.
Michael had showered accolades on Dr.Arun Garg’s commitment and dedication to the wellness of the community and how his perseverance and selfless attitude has inspired me to come forward to support CINI in a big way from the time of its inception in 2010. Counsel General Abhilasha’s message was clear in the need to integrate ancient approaches and modern medicine in helping and curing many of the challenges faced by the health community. She emphasized the need for and willingness to support for bridging the health care between India and Canada through initiatives of Government of India like Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) setup exclusively for optimal development and propagation of systems of health care that stood the test of time. Mayor Hepner had no doubt in exclaiming with joy the importance of South Asian community in building Surrey and the many of the initiatives by the City, local Non Profits, Business and Government agencies have come together in creating a truly multicultural city of Surrey. She reiterated her full support for CINI conference and initiatives taken up by various agencies to make Surrey a Healthy City.
The conference was officially opened on June 9th with welcome remarks from Hon. Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, Government of British Columbia and Dr.Arun Garg, the Conference Chair.
The message was clear and loud from the beginning; War on Diabetes is the need of the hour.
There were some outstanding presentations in this segment from our very own Deljit Bains, who is the Leader at the South Asian Health Institute advocating deep transformation in the community through engagement with Gurdwaras, Temples and other Social/Religious gatherings to educate and encourage importance of dietary changes in the food served in these places. There are many Gurdwaras who have adopted healthier, wholesome diet by reducing the amount of Sugar/Carbohydrates in their diet and paving the path for preventing and curing Diabetes especially in the South Asian Community where its prevalence is extremely high. Dr.Gulzar Cheema, former Minister in BC Government also shared his work on ICON – Intercultural Online health Network (iCON), a community-driven health promotion initiative that supports multicultural communities, patients and caregivers across BC to optimize chronic disease prevention and self-management. The focus of the sessions in this segment was also on the other NCDs – Non Communicable Diseases and different preventative strategies that are taking place in India as well as Canada.
The mood of the conference started to shift from waging a war on the Diabetes on one side of the spectrum to making peace with the Mind on the other side of the spectrum.
Mental Illness, the silent killer of modern times has definitely emerged as the hottest topic of the conference. It definitely broke the silence of the participants, audience and the officials in the Fraser Health and Government as the presentation on Substance abuse and related disorders by Dr.Nitasha Puri rolled in about the need for immediate action in prevention and cure of the crisis. Her work with Roshni clinic, a new clinic to support people in the South Asian community who are struggling with substance use is highly commendable. Presentation by Dr.Suman Kollipara focused on alternative and integrated approaches like Meditation and Self-Empowerment tools in the prevention of Mental Illness through the work of their Non-Profit Peace Tree Innovations Society’s vision of Educate, Experience, Enlighten drew a lot of attention as a way to not only prevent Mental Illness but as therapeutic intervention in healing many of the illness. The discussions followed have stirred many aspects of mental illness which was summarized and collaborated by Dr.Anson Koo, Program Medical Director and Regional Department Head, Fraser Health MHSU and Dr.Victoria Lee, Chief Medical Health Officer and Vice-President, Population Health in the Fraser Health Region of British Columbia.
The session about the Public Health approaches to Palliative Care in India and BC with regards to the work done by Two Worlds Cancer Collaboration was presented by Dr.Doris Barwich, Dr.Gillian Fyes and the discussions were facilitated by Dr.Simon Sutcliffe and Dr.Bob Defaye. The importance of palliative care cannot be ignored with the world which is on a rise with the cases of cancer impacting every single family in one way or the other. Kudos to the advocates like them who selflessly have been steering the palliative care at the grassroots across the globe, especially to the needy who cannot afford terminal care in the complex treatment of Cancer.
The sessions on Leadership in Health triggered stimulating discussions from both sides of the planet with eminent speakers like Dr.Arvind Lal, Dr.Anupam Sibal, Dr.Robert Woolard who brought decades of their experience in shedding light in the need for better practices in the Health care from top down. The need for empowering the Physicians was presented through a very scientific LEADS framework with simple principles of Lead Self, Engage Others, Achieve Results, Develop Coalition, and Systems Transformation. It is interesting and important to note that Dr.Arun Garg and CINI embodies these 5 principle foundations of leadership in their work in building Healthy Civil Society. They have become the founding principles in the success of the vision and mission of CINI’s work with the community across the multicultural and multidimensional landscape.
The evening of the second day of the conference ended with a grand Banquet dinner at the Royal King Palace and Convention Center in Surrey. This is a one of a kind Banquet with people from all segments of life have assembled to celebrate two nations, two cultures, two voices, to become ‘One’ under the Leadership of Dr.Arun Garg and the roof of CINI. The evening saw all sections of the society come together under one umbrella to celebrate life at its best and to create Health in its many dimensions. There were Stalwarts from all walks of life including Business, Innovations, Technology, Education, Universities, Health Care, Politics, Administration, NGOs and Change Agents from all sectors. It was a celebration of Health, Happiness, Food, Music and Culture at its best. The entire Convention Center resonated with National Anthems of Canada and India, presentations from the eminent leaders on the both sides of the world which gave a glimpse of richness of Canada and glory of India as well as the similarities in the democratic power of people of both nations. The convention was like a festive cruise ship carrying thousands across the sea of humanity to new horizons of friendship, partnership and collaboration. The voices of individuals on the stage, with the thumping standing ovation for the noble work of Dr.Arun Garg echoed in the air that evening. The colors of both cultures blending to become One was clearly evident with the Light that emanated from the sense of Oneness. It was a celebration that Heavens would have envied without doubt. The MCs of the evening, Davin Garg and Angelina from Spice Radio have enthralled and entertained the audience with great sense of humor while ensuring everyone was focused on the essence of the program. The performances of classical music and Tabla from the world renowned artist duo of Vancouver, Cassius Khan and Amika Kushwaha mesmerized and transcended the audience to ancient times of India with rhythms galvanizing the hearts and beats moving the souls to ecstasy.
The third day of the conference brought immense variety to the table with 2 major sessions on the Integrative Medicine and Health as well as Technology and Innovation in Health industry.
With the advent of Modernization and Innovation, human lifestyle has taken many twists and turns in the past century.
Even though the Modern medicine has been able to help humanity in dealing with many infectious diseases as well as with Critical care, its role has been limited in terms of prevention and care of Non Communicable diseases.
In the last 2 decades there is an eruption of Life style diseases, in a way has gone out of control.
The damage can be contained and very well be prevented and cured with wisdom from ancient times.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, Yoga and Aboriginal Medicine can play a huge role in not only bridging the gap in treatment and prevention of these illness, but also bring into light some of these ancient forms of healing that have stood the test of time. The Integrative Medicine and Health had an amazing line up of speakers from Medical professionals, Research Scientist as well as TCM and Yoga practitioners who have reflected on their personal journeys as well as those of patients that they work with on a day to day basis. There is already a strong footprint of these ancient healing practices in Canada and no dearth of opportunity to import more from India especially with world embracing these forms to boost health and wellness. The presentations included importance of Integrative Medicine in the prevention of Dementia, Supportive Cancer care, Food as medicine, TCM, Aboriginal medicine and Integrated Yoga Therapy by experts in these areas. The message is clear that it’s time to integrate these practices with the critical care provided in the hospitals and clinics to help people make the choices when it comes to taking charge of their wellness.
The session on Technology and Innovation definitely gave a kick to the end of the conference where there were presentations about Artificial Intelligence in Health Care, Taking action against Tuberculosis, Role of Technology in access to Health Information, Mobile technologies as well as using Neurotechnology in Youth Depression and Addiction. The discussions around these topics brought into limelight the need for integrating innovation and technology into Health care for efficient and elegant health systems that can deliver quality care. It was evident that there is no escape from technology, but identifying ways to marry them together so that there is seamless integration for faster and better health care, end to end.
There were also two round tables that happened around the Technology and Integrative Medicine. Both the roundtables were focused on identifying research opportunities between India and Canada in building bridges for incorporation of modern innovation on one side and ancient technology on the other side.
At the end, It was clear that there is no one single path to success, but an amalgamation of various practices, technologies, mindsets will create a collaborative platform for people with different perspectives to come together and work in unison for building a robust future. This approach will benefit generations to come.
It reminds the words of the Nobel Laurate and Poet, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore from India:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free. Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls. Where words come out from the depth of truth, where tireless striving stretches its arms toward perfection. Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit. Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action. In to that heaven of freedom, my father, let my Country Awake.” This applies both to Canada and India and infact the whole world. If we can all work together with pure minds and hearts filled with love we can achieve and attain greatest heights. I see Dr.Arun Garg as an epitome of such courage, confidence, conviction and clarity with which sky is not the limit. We can all create Heaven on Earth, here and now.
Heartfelt gratitude to Harpreet Singh who has brought his famous TV show to the location of the conference and recorded live discussions with some of the eminent Doctors, Scientists and Change makers to help the entire Canada witness the glory of the CINI conference. It goes without saying that the immense support of AAJ Media group and the CEO Suki Pangalia was indispensable in making the conference a huge success with their presence before, during and after the conference in carrying the flag of CINI, Canada and India together.
Also a note about the food that has been served during the conference which has been consciously chosen with a blend of aroma and taste from various parts of the world by boosting the energy for the body, satisfying the senses & Mind while soothing the soul.
CINI 2018 is reflection of strength in Unity in spite of diversity in beliefs, cultures, and ideas. The biggest take away from the conference is clear hope that when the minds are clear, hearts are open, miracles can happen, and there is no other miracle than the conviction of creating a Healthy Civil Society. Heartfelt Kudos to the board of CINS as well as every single individual, volunteer, sponsor who have worked tirelessly to make this conference a mega success bridging the two nations and a billion hearts into One.