January Marie Lapuz was a transgender woman of colour who was murdered in September 2012 in New Westminster, British Columbia. A grassroots, community-driven, “Justice for January” march followed shortly afterward.
January was born in Santiago, the Philippines on April 9, 1986, and later immigrated to Vancouver, Canada with her adoptive mother. She was an advocate for trans rights and was known as the “bright light” among Vancouver’s LGBTQ community.
January’s glowing heart has inspired and touched many across the community and through sharing her story, we hope to emit her light, legacy, and advocacy.
This documentary feature film is a celebration of January’s life, among other trans women of colour. This film is about remembering the impact that January had on the lives of everyone she encountered. This film is about uplifting the narratives and lived experiences of trans women of colour. This film is about collectively liberating all marginalized and oppressed people.
Trans women of colour are being murdered at an unprecedented rate and it is critical we stand in solidarity with trans women and fight for justice and trans rights, support trans narratives, and push for the eradication of transmisogyny.
The film was directed by two women of colour, Elina Gress and Lenee Son, who are former journalism students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey.
The film was produced by the Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society, specifically Sher Founder Alex Sangha and Sher President Ash Brar.
When a trans sister, January Marie Lapuz, is brutally murdered in her own home in New Westminster, BC, a community reacts and her friends and other trans women of colour come to share and voice their issues, concerns, and challenges. January was seen as a bright light in the lives of many. This is the story of January, a friend, a daughter, a person. This film will not only bring justice to January, but to all the women who have lost their lives. January had a beautiful soul, and now part of her soul rests in each and every one of us.
BIOS OF THE DIRECTORS
Lenée is a Khmer Krom settler who grew up in Surrey on unceded Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, and Kwikwetlem territories. She has a Bachelors of Journalism and minor in Sociology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Her work as a freelance multimedia journalist has appeared in publications such as rabble.ca, Multimedia Photojournale, The Volcano, Westcoast Food, and Inside Vancouver. When she’s not working on multimedia projects, Lenee is committed to anti-poverty community organizing in Surrey and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. She/Her pronouns.
BIOS OF THE CAST MEMBERS
Natasha is a beautiful woman now in her forties. She is a north-west coast native who has grown up in the cities. She first started transitioning at 16 years of age. Being rejected by her family has meant she grew up on the streets. As an adult, she is finding herself and gaining a sense of peace and stability. Natasha is currently married and resides in Edmonton, Alberta.
Kelendria is a Black woman of Trans experience of Caribbean descent who uses her perspective and unique experience to bring awareness to the various issues surrounding trans people; especially trans women of colour. She has dedicated herself to using her voice to impact change and bridge understanding across all communities.
Alex is the Founder of Sher Vancouver. He is active in the community and cultural affairs. Alex has worked as a social worker, instructor, clinician, youth counsellor, and team leader. He has an MSc in Public Administration and Public Policy from the Department of Government from the London School of Economics and a Master of Social Work from Dalhousie University. Alex is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada.
Velvet is widely known for her appearance on the wildly popular documentary series KINK. As a woman, she defines herself as a woman with a trans medical history. She is an advocate for transsexual rights, an activist for transgender rights, and a sensitivity facilitator with the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police Department. She was a fetish service provider and educates folks on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the world of sex toys and adult therapeutical aids. She created the first Fetish Night in Vancouver which ran for 10 years. It’s her life as a fetishist and visual artist that led her to activism on sex, sexuality, and sexual health and healing.
Ash is the President of Sher Vancouver and was January’s best friend. He invited January to become the Social Coordinator of Sher Vancouver where she became the first trans person to hold an Executive position within the organization. Ash and January had a common bond as they were both born in the Philippines and spoke Tagalog and were recent immigrants to British Columbia.
Josh is on the Board of Directors of Sher Vancouver. He is one of the original members of Sher and was a friend of January. Josh is a strong believer in diversity and human rights and the need to respect and show compassion for everyone regardless of religious belief, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity. Josh was the first Jewish person to sit on the Board of Sher and is active in the queer community in Vancouver. He is also a Founding Member of the Dignity Seniors Society which aims to support vulnerable queer seniors in Vancouver.
(In order of appearance)
January Marie Lapuz