Winner of the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award for 2017 is Prachi Khanna of Surrey with Runner-Ups Erjon Tela of Albania, Grace McDonell of North Vancouver, Serene Carter of Burnaby, and Ran Ya Chib of Surrey

 

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.

 

WINNER

Prachi Khanna

18 years old from Surrey, B.C.

$500 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver

 Biography

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 towards 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

QMUNITY

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

PeerNetBC

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

  

RUNNER UP

Erjon Tela

27 year old from Surrey, B.C.

(Gay activist recently moved from Albania)

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver

Biography

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.

 

RUNNER UP

Serene Carter

18 years old from Burnaby, B.C.

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver

Biography

 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.

  

RUNNER-UP

Grace McDonell

25 years old from North Vancouver, B.C.

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver

 Biography

 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.

 

RUNNER UP

Ran Ya Chib

27 years old from Surrey, B.C.

$250 cash prize donated by Sher Vancouver

Biography

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.

 

About the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award

The January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award is an annual award bestowed upon a deserving youth between 16 to 30 years of age who has demonstrated involvement, commitment, and leadership in the LGBTQ+ community whether locally, nationally, and/or internationally.  Applications from groups who also service this age group are welcome.

Who was January?

January Marie Lapuz was born on April 9, 1986, in Santiago City, Philippines and passed away on September 30, 2012, in New Westminster, B.C.  January was the Social Coordinator of Sher Vancouver.  She was the first transgender person to hold an Executive position with the group. Being the life of the party, January would make everyone laugh.  She was a kind, caring, generous and loyal friend. January was a great singer and dancer.  She was known as our very own “Beyonce.”

January had many challenges and struggles as an immigrant, as a person of colour, and as a transgender woman living in poverty.  Nonetheless, she was a bright light and shining star in Sher Vancouver.  She was a fabulous MC on our “Pride of Bollywood” float in the Vancouver Pride Parade and the “Bang Bang Bollywood” dance nights.

Not a day goes by that January’s friends don’t think of her.  We miss her and we all know that she is watching over us like an Angel in Heaven.

What is Sher Vancouver?

Sher Vancouver is a social, cultural, and support non-profit society in British Columbia for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends, families, and allies. Sher provides information, education, referral, peer support, counselling, advocacy, social activities, outreach presentations to combat discrimination such as bullying, racism, homophobia, and transphobia, and volunteer opportunities for its members.  Sher Vancouver is set to mark its 10th Anniversary in April 2018.

Links

Sher Vancouver http://www.shervancouver.com/

Contact 

Alex Sangha, MSc, MSW, RCSW

Founder of Sher Vancouver

Email:  info@shervancouver.com

 

 

Winner of the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award for 2016 is Gaylaxy Magazine Founder Sukhdeep Singh of India

sukhdeep_singh-3_copy

Sukhdeep Singh 

Sukhdeep Singh is the founder and editor-in-chief of Gaylaxy Magazine, India’s No. 1 LGBTQ+ Magazine.

He is an alumni of the Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines) (IIT-ISM) Dhanbad, India.

Sukhdeep started the magazine in the final semester of his Bachelor of Technology Programme in 2010 to provide a platform to the LGBTQ+ community to express themselves and highlight their stories and issues.

He works in an multinational corporation as a software professional and today the magazine consists of a team of 10 people, with over 150 contributors and 1500 posts, with an exclusive section in Hindi that remains the only one of its kind online LGBTQ+ resource in Hindi.

His writings have appeared in Huffington Post India, Trikone Magazine (USA), Varta, and Germany based travel portal Ebab.

His articles on Sikhism and homosexuality have challenged the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and Akal Takht’s stand that Sikhism is against homosexuality and forbids it.

Sukhdeep received a $500 cash prize in Canadian funds from Sher Vancouver founder, Alex Sangha.

Sukhdeep was selected to receive the award in 2016 “because of the significant influence and impact he is having on advancing LGBTQ+ rights in India and South Asia and abroad, not to mention his innovative use of technology on various platforms to create more awareness of LGBTQ+ issues.  The selection committee was also very much aware of the fact that it takes considerable courage to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights in India where homosexuality is still very much a taboo in society.”

Personal Statement of Sukhdeep Singh

  • I launched Gaylaxy (www.gaylaxymag.com) as an online magazine at the age of 21 in Jan 2010, while still studying my Engineering. India back then lacked a magazine that catered to the needs and demands of the LGBTQ+ community. The first issue itself had over 1000 readers. In these 7 years, Gaylaxy has grown as a platform that connects the LGBTQ+ community and provides them information as well as entertainment. Gaylaxy as a medium has published many personal, powerful and heart touching stories of LGBTQ+ individuals, including coming out stories, stories of gay men trapped in straight marriages. Gaylaxy is also an important LGBTQ+ news source, extensively covering and documenting not just pride marches happening in various cities and towns across India, but also any news of violence faced by LGBTQ+ individuals as well as Govt. policies that benefit/affect the community. It has also provided a platform to many budding writers and poets, whose short stories and poems have been published. Gaylaxy is also emerging as a strong LGBTQ+ voice in South Asia, with a number of Pakistani LGBTQ+ activists and writers joining the magazine and writing about the happenings in their country as well.
  • With the aim to reach out to more people, a Hindi edition of Gaylaxy was started in 2014, with Sachin Jain as its editor. A majority of Indians do not speak English. 41.1% of Indians, or more than a million Indian, speak/understand Hindi. However, most of the resources or websites related to LGBTQ+ are in English, meaning that a vast majority of Indians do not have access to LGBTQ+ literature/information. Gaylaxy Hindi was launched with the aim to fill this void and in these 3 years, has published many articles in Hindi and acts as a resource guide for many Hindi speaking Indians.
  • Gaylaxy has also been conducting on ground events and engaging with college students to bring in more awareness about LGBTQ+ issues among the youth, as well as conduct events to provide a social space to the community. We held a workshop in Presidency University, Kolkata on Gender, Sexuality and Power; LGBTQ+ movies were screened too at the same university and was followed by panel discussion. I was the speaker at a march organsied by IIT Delhi and other Delhi University students in October 2016, where I spoke on Coming Out. We also went to IIT Delhi during their cultural fest Rendezevous and interacted with students from different colleges who had come there and raised awareness on LGBTQ+ issues through situational games etc. Apart from that, Gaylaxy organized an Open Mic session in Oct 2016 on Coming Out where issues related to coming out were discussed. A Queer Carnival was held in November 2016 which provided a platform for various LGBTQ+ people to showcase their talent.
  • With mobile penetration increasing in India, a Gaylaxy app was also launched on android platform in 2014 so that all the information could be easily accessed by people.

 

About the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award

The January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award is an annual award bestowed upon a deserving youth between 16 to 30 years of age who has demonstrated involvement, commitment, and leadership in the LGBTQ+ community whether locally, nationally, and/or internationally.

Applications from groups who also service this age group are welcome.

Who was January?

January Marie Lapuz was born on April 9, 1986 in Santiago City, Philippines and passed away on September 30, 2012 in New Westminster, B.C.  January was the Social Coordinator of Sher Vancouver.  She was the first transgender person to hold an Executive position with the group. Being the life of the party, January would make everyone laugh.  She was a kind, caring, generous and loyal friend. January was a great singer and dancer.  She was known as our very own “Beyonce.”

January had many challenges and struggles as an immigrant, as a person of colour, and as a transgender woman living in poverty.  Nonetheless, she was a bright light and shining star in Sher Vancouver.  She was a fabulous MC on our “Pride of Bollywood” float in the Vancouver Pride Parade and the “Bang Bang Bollywood” dance nights.

Not a day goes by that January’s friends don’t think of her.  We miss her and we all know that she is watching over us like an Angel in Heaven.

What is Sher Vancouver?

Sher Vancouver is a social, cultural, and support organization for LGBTQ+ South Asians and friends. Sher provides information, referral, peer support, counselling, advocacy, social activities, outreach presentations to combat discrimination, and volunteer opportunities for its members. Sher was founded in April 2008 and currently has over 600 members and is based in Surrey, B.C. Sher is affiliated with the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society.

Links

Sher Vancouver http://www.shervancouver.com/

January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award https://januarylapuz.net/january-marie-lapuz-youth-leadership-award/

Gaylaxy http://www.gaylaxymag.com/

Contact

Alex Sangha, MSc, MSW

Registered Clinical Social Worker

Founder of Sher Vancouver

Email:  alexsangha@gmail.com

Author Blog https://alexsangha.com/

 

 

Cast and Crew of My Name Was January

cast-and-crew

OFFICIAL PRE-SCREENING OF JANUARY 

CITY CENTRE LIBRARY 

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2016

CAST AND CREW 

(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT)

LENEE SON – DIRECTOR 

ELINA GRESS – DIRECTOR 

SUZANNE KILROY – CAST MEMBER

NATASHA ADSIT – CAST MEMBER

KELENDRIA NATION – CAST MEMBER

VELVET STEELE – CAST MEMBER

ASH BRAR – PRODUCER 

ALEX SANGHA – PRODUCER

BETTY LAPUZ – CAST MEMBEER – NOT IN PHOTO

 

Special Thanks to Style Cuts By Narcy for becoming an Official Sponsor of January!

Style Cuts

 

Dear Friends,

Special Thanks to Style Cuts By Narcy which is a fabulous hair salon located at 194 King Edward Avenue East in Vancouver for becoming an Official Sponsor of January.  Their number is 604-780-9502.

Style Cuts donated their proceeds for the month of April to the documentary.  Sher Vancouver is very grateful for this support.

Special Thanks to Narima Dela Cruz for facilitating this sponsorship.  It is appreciated.

In Pride and In Gratitude,

Alex Sangha (Founder) and Ash Brar (Moderator)

Sher Vancouver

Producers of January

Special Thanks to Surrey604 for becoming an Official Media Sponsor of January!

Surrey 604

Dear Friends of January,

Special Thanks to Surrey604 for becoming an Official Media Sponsor of January!  The support of grassroots local community media in Surrey is appreciated.

Watch for Surrey604 at the World Premiere of January at Kwantlen Polytechnic University at the Surrey Campus in early 2017.

Thank you to Daman Beatty of Surrey604 for facilitating this sponsorship.

In Pride and In Gratitude,

Alex Sangha (Founder) and Ash Brar (Moderator)

Sher Vancouver

Producers of January

 

 

 

 

 

Special Thanks to the BC Civil Liberties Association for becoming an Official Sponsor of January!

BCCLA-Display-Shadows-RGB

 

Dear Friends of January,

Sher Vancouver is pleased to welcome the BC Civil Liberties Association as an Official Sponsor of the upcoming documentary film January.

Sher Vancouver is pleased to have the support of a grassroots community organization that has a long standing history of fighting for the human rights, dignity, equality, respect, and freedom of us all.

The BC Civil Liberties Association provides assistance to members of the public who are dealing with civil liberties issues.  Civil liberties issues often focus on the relationship between the government and citizens, although they can also involve private organizations.  Some examples of civil liberties issues that we might be able to assist with include those relating to police accountability, privacy violations, access to information requests, or free speech and freedom of expression.

Special Thanks to Nathanel Lowe who is the Outreach and Communications Coordinator at the BC Civil Liberties Association for facilitating this sponsorship.

In Pride,

Alex Sangha (Founder) and Ash Brar (Moderator)

Sher Vancouver

Producers of January

 

Special Thanks to Big Bro’s Barber Shop for being an Official Supporter of January!

logolrg

Dear Friends of January,

Sher Vancouver is very pleased to welcome Big Bro’s Barbershop as an Official Supporter of January.

  • Big Bro’s Barbershop offers the following services:
  • Barber & Beauty Services
  • Gender Affirmation Products
  • Transition Mentoring & Resources
  • Used Clothing & Binders by Donation
  • Safe Space for the LGBTQ2SIA+ Community

Thank you to Jesse Anderson for facilitating this sponsorship.  It is appreciated.

Sher Vancouver is proud to work alongside the trans community to support each other and increase awareness of services and supports for the trans and larger community.

With Gratitude,

Alex Sangha (Founder) and Ash Brar (Moderator)

Sher Vancouver

Producers of January