SAAT: Canadian Heart, South Asian Soul

Photos by Champagne Thompson.
Photos by Champagne Thompson.

Bhangra dance at the Eureka Event, bright lights at the Diwali festival; celebratory chaos at the Disco Deewane. From the demanding effort of tiresome dedication, to the ecstatic thrill of stress alleviation, and all of the moments of comradery in between. What can possibly triumph over a year-long highlight reel filled with an exceptional degree of optimism, support and team-work? The success of this year’s events surpassed the greatest expectations of many South Asian volunteers and executives; it transcended the boundaries of tradition, and paved the path to a better future.

The South Asian Association at Trent (SAAT) hosted its Annual Formal Dinner under the theme “A Royal Affair on Friday March 20 at the Great Hall in Champlain College. Sparkling candle light illuminated the scenery, reflecting the feelings of warmth and satisfaction that were characteristic of every visitor. About One Hundred thirty guests filled the twenty-six tables, each placed diagonal to one another, resembling a flurry of diamonds amidst an atmosphere of optimistic energy. An assortment of water-down stones filled a cylindrical glass centerpiece at every table. Each canteen-like object twinkled with the glimmer of two t-candles floating peacefully across a caldron-sized pond. Gold and black banners dangled from the horizontal pillars of the East-side, glorifying the SAAT colors amidst this glamourous spectacle. Braids of Rangoli weaved through one another, creating a beautiful multi-coloured sand-painting located at the foot of the Great Hall.

saatcandleThe event began with a high-tempo presentation by two very talented performers Vishal Dharamdass and Jennifer Fernando who played a traditional Indian instrument called tabla, while Jennifer danced to its tune in the form of classical Indian dance. The performances concluded by an energy filled Punjabi dance called Bhangra which was performed by the SAAT Bhangra team. Ten of the twelve stars from last weekend’s Cultural Outreach Event received an ovation from the guests for an absolutely dazzling performance.

After the performances, twelve gourmet entrees were served buffet-style, commencing the long-awaited feast. Dishes included the world renowned butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, Shahi paneer, mix vegetables, and dal makhni. Overall, the event featured an assortment of tri-national traditions accustomed to the Indian subcontinent. However, the multinational and multicultural aspect of the group emerged throughout the closing speeches.

We were joined by a very special guest for the dinner, Maryam Monsef, Trent alumni and former Mayoral candidate, delivered a touching speech to mark the end of a very successful year. In discussing the multicultural dimension of this event, Monsef asserted that “what has been accomplished here today, the Canadian nation has not achieved; what has been accomplished here today, the United Nations is still trying to achieve”. This inspiring passage set the tone for a marathon of speeches that were to follow.

Recollecting on the past year in SAAT, executive members Aaditiya Thakar (President), Ateesh Mishra (Vice-President), Sabrina Sapal (Director of Finance), Manpreet Kaur Kenth (Director of Events), Alaadin Addas (Director of Publicity), Namrata Arid (Secretary) and Sameeha Hamza articulated their thoughts and feelings to the audience. Thereafter, active volunteers such as myself Alester Fernandes, Samarjit Khaira, and Muhammad Arif Khan expressed personal reminiscence on this fantastic year.

Speeches were followed by a short award ceremony. Kellen Lindney and Jenna Barrett won the “Jodi of the year award” which is given to the couple that has been involved with the club throughout the year and supported us in all the initiatives. Two awards known as the Pride of SAAT were given to Sabrina Sapal and Taha Usmani for their dedication and commitment towards SAAT for the full year.

SAAT itself was award-winning as well, winning the TCSA Club Leadership Award earlier in the month.

A bittersweet vibe permeated a social event which would mark the end for some, and the beginning for many. The entire SAAT community offers appreciation to one of our most dedicated members, Sabrina Sapal. We wish her the best of luck in life after Trent. As this committee experiences a metamorphosis, special thanks is attributed to all active members.

The grand closure combined reminiscence of the past with anticipation for the future. This committee is broadening its administrative wingspan and has laid the foundation for a promising road ahead. The South Asian Association at Trent has transformed from a group of aspiring individuals, into a unified, multi-cultural, multi-national family.