Support and Buy Local: Lanka Jewels founder Ken Selvaraja on how to survive a pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached British Columbia, most businesses turned to the provincial and federal governments for financial relief. Mission-based Lanka Jewels instead turned to its community — to ask how they could give back to those more in need.

 

“I have been in this business for 40 years and we have faced challenges of this nature in different forms, from robberies to economic downfalls,” says Lanka Jewels founder Ken Selvaraja. “But COVID-19 has become one of the most critical challenges that both small and big businesses have faced…it has opened our eyes to the fact that communities have to be self-sufficient in some manner. It has brought us a lot closer in lots of ways.”

 

Rallying together as a community is proving to be key in surviving this unprecedented crisis. In this spirit, Postmedia is providing an opportunity for local businesses and consumers to support one another in a special online event, Support and Buy Local Auction. Bidding opens at noon tomorrow, May 20, and closes May 26. The initiative aims to inject optimism back into the economy at a time when cash flow is limited.

 

Lanka Jewels is one of more than two dozen companies participating in the online auction, and the idea of giving back is one that the family-owned business takes to heart. Selvaraja is known within Mission and beyond for his philosophy of generosity and his many contributions to the Chamber of Commerce, Mission Youth House, local church groups and more.

 

Part of that drive stems from his keen understanding that community is at the heart of the economy. In conversation, Selvaraja easily lists off statistics like that 97.9 per cent of all Canadian employers are small businesses, and that those same small businesses employ more than 70 per cent of the private work force. Not to mention, while there are around 15 urban centres in the province, there are more than 80 rural communities across B.C.

 

“Small businesses are the actual backbone of the country,” he says. “They are a necessary part of the community. Take the human body: you have arteries and veins. One is moving fresh blood, the other pumping old blood. But there are also capillaries, which play a very important part in diffusing waste and providing nourishment. Small businesses are like the capillaries…we need them.”

 

The analogy comes naturally to Selvaraja, who worked as a nurse at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam before shifting his career to gemstones. Since the pandemic, Lanka Jewels has been working with the Rotary Club and Fraser Health to ensure local healthcare providers are receiving sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE). This is on top of working with other community leaders to deliver groceries and parcels of necessities to seniors. Selvaraja’s family has also been phoning local elders for regular check-ins and to ask if there is anything else they need.

 

And, of course, the business is still there to support all your jewelry and precious stone needs. The expansive showroom at Lanka Jewels is operating in strict adherence with provincial safety protocols, with limited hours (11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday) and reduced patron capacity. Private consultations can also be scheduled in advance. A visit may bring you face to face with Selvaraja himself, or with one of his welcoming family members. Both his son and daughter are learning to manage the store.

A 14-carat opal bangle with diamonds designed and hand-crafted locally by Lanka Jewels. SUPPLIED

For the Support and Buy Local Auction, bidders will have a chance to save big on a selection of custom designs. Highlights include a stunning gold bangle that features a show-stopping 14-carat opal accented with diamonds, a beautiful 11-carat blue topaz ring and much more. To view all auction items from Lanka Jewels, click here.

 

Support and Buy Local Auction opens at noon on May 20 and closes May 26. Winners will be announced by June 1. Visit VancouverSun.com/supportlocal.


517 comments


  • Freddieinign

    A team of palaeontologists have discovered what they believe is the world’s oldest animal sperm, frozen in tree resin 100 million years ago inside a tiny crustacean in Myanmar.

    The oldest known examples of fossilised animal sperm were previously a mere 17 million years old, according to the team of experts led by Wang He of the Chinese Academy of Science in Nanjing.

    The sperms were found inside an ostracod — a type of crustacean that has existed for 500 million years and can be found in many oceans today, they said in a paper published on Wednesday in the Royal Society’s Proceedings journal.

    They were found in the body of a female specimen, indicating that she must have been fertilised shortly before being trapped in amber, the experts said.

    The individual sperms were described as “giants”, measuring up to 4.6 times the size of the body of the male.

    “This is equivalent to about 7.30 metres (24 feet) in a 1.70-metre human, so it requires a lot of energy to produce them,” Renate Matzke-Karasz of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, co-author of the study, told AFP.

    The ostracod was also a new species that the scientists have named “Myanmarcypris hui”.

    - ‘Eureka moment’ -

    Fossilised shells of ostracods are common but finding a specimen with “soft parts” is rare, the experts said.

    During the Cretaceous period around 145 to 66 million years ago, the ostracods in question probably lived in the coastal waters of present-day Myanmar where they became trapped in a blob of tree resin.

    The specimen was handed over to researchers by a Chinese collector in 2017.

    The tiny creatures are less than a millimetre long but the scientists made 3-D reconstructions of them to observe them more closely, leading to what Wang described as “one of those special Eureka moments in a researcher’s life”.

    As well as the sperm, the reconstructions also showed the distinctive muscular sperm pumps and penises (two of each) that male ostracods use to inseminate the females.

    “This specimen allowed us to confirm our hypothesis that such giant sperm cells existed 100 million years ago,” Matzke-Karasz said.

    Until now, this theory had been based on the discovery in 2009 of large genital organs in the crustaceans, which suggested the existence of correspondingly large sperms.

    Most males in the animal world including humans produce tens of millions of tiny sperm cells, but ostracods are different — for them, it’s all about quality over quantity.

    There are several conflicting theories about the evolutionary value of such giant sperms.

    “For example, experiments have shown that in one group, a high degree of competition between males can lead to a longer sperm life, while in another group, a low degree of competition also led to a longer sperm life,” said Matzke-Karasz.

    - ‘Co-evolution’ -

    The researcher believes the giant sperm are a sign of good health on the part of the males, a characteristic “favoured” by the females, whose genitals evolved to accommodate them in an example of “co-evolution”.

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    “Given that many ostracods can reproduce parthenogenetically, without the need for males, sexual reproduction with giant sperm cells must have a clear advantage over asexual reproduction,” Matzke-Karasz said.

    “To show that using giant sperms in reproduction is not an extinction-doomed extravagance of evolution, but a serious long-term advantage for the survival of a species, we need to know when they first appeared.”

    Scientists have been researching the amber of Myanmar for decades, finding all kinds of frozen treasures including frogs, snakes and a feathered dinosaur tail.


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