Winner of the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award for 2017 is Prachi Khanna

Prachi Khanna


Photo of Prachi Khanna – 2017 Winner

“Congratulations to all the winners . . . may the legacy of January Marie Lapuz shine on all the applicants” stated Sher Vancouver President and January’s best friend Ash Brar.


“The strength and quality and diversity of all the applicants was very impressive and it was very difficult for the selection committee to decide on an overall winner” stated Sher Vancouver Founder Alex Sangha.



Prachi Khanna

18 years old from Surrey, B.C.

$500 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver


After initiating the formation of my school’s Queer Straight Alliance in September 2016, I served as the driving force— and advocate— facilitating consultations in my school’s community—with students, staff, parents, and administration, to reach an agreement for the school’s first “All-student washroom”. Having witnessed first-hand, the struggles of LGBTQI++ students, who felt incommoded and unwelcomed by the system they found themselves in, I, as an ally, felt a strong need to publicly acknowledge and address the fundamental issues at hand, to provide real solutions. Fueled by my determination and persistence, I set a strong foundation to assure that the school was inclusive and welcoming for all students. Through my work, I became strongly aware of my passion to drive change for making classrooms inclusive spaces to all students. This was bolstered by my involvement in the making of SOGI 123 videos for educators across our province. Although, I have graduated from high school, I know I have just begun to advocate for the LGBTQI++ community. Currently, I do so in my work with the President’s Diversity and Equity Council at my university and local organizations like QMUNITY. I will continue to advocate for better practices geared toward inclusion, and awareness of SOGI issues in our society. Ultimately, I intend to address issues regarding the inclusion of LGBTQI++ people in scientific research, especially in the biomedical sciences.


Some details from the Personal Statement of Prachi Khanna

Seaquam Queer Straight Alliance

  • Initiated the formation of the QSA and established it in the school community: designed and prepared promotional materials (posters, buttons etc.), made PA announcements
  • Facilitating weekly meetings (and sometimes multiple meetings a week)
  • Facilitating consultations for the school’s first gender-neutral washroom while serving as a communication link between administration and students to reach an agreement
  • Speaking at staff meetings and Parent Advisory Council meetings regarding concerns of LGQBTI++ students, especially the gender-neutral washroom
  • Organising events that took place at the school (like assemblies, lunch trivia etc.) throughout the School District’s first Pride Week

SOGI 123

  • Organizing SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) awareness campaigns
  • SOGI 123: Interviewed for videos for BC’s educators in which I discussed the work I did with the QSA and also spoke about the change that needs to take place to create inclusive classrooms in our province.

President’s Diversity and Equity Council (PDEC) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University

  • Contributing in my capacity as a student in discussions about university matters (for e.g.: best practices for inclusion in classrooms, accessibility of campus facilities, student surveys)
  • Advisory Committee for Vancouver Food Summit 2017
  • Advising on forum structure and format to make the event accessible and inclusive to high school and post-secondary students
  • Advising on effective youth-engagement practices which were integrated to engage local youth in the conversation about Food Systems in the lower mainland


  • Volunteering at the annual QMUNITY Pride Parade fundraising brunch
  • Attending Queer Competency and Inclusion workshops


  • Attending Anti-oppression training, facilitation and youth-engagement workshops



Erjon Tela

27 year old from Surrey, B.C.

(Gay activist recently moved from Albania)

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver


I have started my activism in 2010 in Albania. I started with some graffiti’s in the streets of Tirana saying “I am a boy, I love a boy” and “I am a girl, I love a girl”. I took pictures during the action and shared that with the local media.  In 2012 I have been one of the organizers of the first Gay Pride in Albania. During the Pride, we were attacked with homemade tube bombs.  That didn’t stop us from holding the Pride every year after that.  From 2014 to 2016 I have been an organizer and trainer about LGBT issues in all the Police Stations in Albania and trained the elite group the “Special Forces Shqiponja.”  In 2017 I trained the students of the Police Academy. In 2014 I was an Assistant Producer of the first documentary made for the LGBT movement in Albania. In 2014 I was one of the founders of the first Residential Shelter for the LGBT community in Albania. In 2016 I started working for the first online helpline for LGBT people that was launched in December 2017.



Serene Carter

18 years old from Burnaby, B.C.

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver


 Serene is a student and a youth educator who commits herself to anti-oppression work on Coast Salish Territories through involvement, education, and organization.  She is the youngest youth educator with Out in Schools, a student organizer with the Douglas College Student Union, a board member of the Burnaby SOGI committee, President of her high school’s GSA, Student Trustee in 2016, and she organized charity events that fundraised over $5000 for Queer Youth in Burnaby.



Grace McDonell

25 years old from North Vancouver, B.C.

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver


 I am a 25-year-old, openly gay, proudly feminist, law student, currently studying at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. I serve as the President of the school’s LGBTQ advocacy group, sit on the equity committee, and as an executive on the Women & Law Society. Most recently, I was part of a coalition that intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada for the Trinity Western case – a case that continues the fight for LGBTQ rights. I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at the University of Toronto. I also completed a summer program at the University of Chicago in Academic & Professional Writing and Ethics. I received the Gordon Cressy Leadership Award and was voted as the member of the graduating class who contributed the most to the school and was considered to best represent the Class at Convocation during my undergrad.



Ran Ya Chib

27 years old from Surrey, B.C.

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver


Ran Ya Chib was born and raised in Vancouver, B.C. He is first generation Cambodian Canadian. He is a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and taking up a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. As a business student, he has trained to perform highly in different fields such as communications, accounting, operations management, and business entrepreneurship. His dedication is what sets him apart from anybody else.  With a passion for people, he understands the importance of building strong relationships with his peers and the community, based on honesty, integrity, and mutual respect. Ranya is passionate about his community involvement and has volunteered at various organizations, such as Health Initiative for Men and the Kids Help Phone. In May of 2017, He completed Totally Outright a leadership workshop for young gay, bisexual, trans, and queer guys interested in being healthy, sex-savvy change makers. He is a well-rounded individual who lives with passion, dedication, and grace.

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