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Yukoner awarded for leadership and communication

Toastmasters district recognizes Gurdeep Pandher
Gurdeep Pandher (left) and Brianna Heal dance a bhangra/highland mashup during the Bhangra - Dance of Punjab show at the Yukon Arts Centre in 2018. Pandher was recently named the winner of the Toastmasters International District 96 Communication and Leadership Award for 2022. (Yukon News file)

It’s not everyday you receive an honour from a community you haven’t been part of.

For Gurdeep Pandher though that’s exactly what happened when District 96 of Toastmasters International informed him he would receive the organization’s 2022 Communication and Leadership Award, despite not being a Toastmasters member.

“I was touched and honoured,” he said in a May 19 interview.

Toastmasters is a nonprofit organization focused on teaching public speaking and leadership skills with District 96 representing Vancouver, northern British Columbia and the Yukon.

As the organization explained in a press release, each year it presents the communication and leadership award to someone who lives in the district, is not affiliated with the organization and “most importantly has distinguished themselves as a leader or spokesperson for a worthy cause or purpose. The honouree has made a significant contribution to the communities within the district and the impact of this contribution is felt community/district wide.”

Pander his well-known for his efforts to spread joy and positivity, often through his Bhangra dancing classes. Videos featuring Pander teaching others to Bhangra against the backdrop of the Yukon have proven to be a popular draw for many. Some videos - Gurdeep teaching former Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis how to tie a turban and Bhangra, for example - have gone viral.

“Gurdeep is a born communicator,” officials with the Toastmasters district said in a statement. “He is a poet, dancer, blogger and videographer. He uses his humble nature to educate the world about others, and in today’s world, we need to see the good in each other.”

Pander noted that living in a time where there is a lot of divide in society keeps him motivated to keep working to bring his message that “we are one” to the world.

“I try to bring positivity and joy,” he said, adding it’s especially rewarding when someone shares with him they were pleased to have something more positive grace their social media feed.

“I’m happy to do (social media) timeline cleansing work,” he said with a laugh.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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