Three out of the five awards went to Surrey youth including one award going to a gay activist from Albania who recently moved to Surrey. 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.
“Congratulations to all the winners . . . may the legacy and light 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 inclusion of LGBTQI++ people in scientific research, especially in the biomedical sciences.
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 help line 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
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.
Armaan Chohan joins DFSIN BC
Armaan Chohan has now joined as Vice President of Sales and New Business Development at Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network (DFSIN) BC. DFSIN BC has 7 offices in several locations across BC and a total of 600+ advisors, with the team continuously growing , Armaan will be a great asset to the company as he brings with him a fresh perspective and vision to grow the team at DFSIN BC along with enhancing the current business practices.
Armaan is currently in his first year at Kwantlen Polytechnic University pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) studies and is very actively involved in community activities such as assisting and managing various charitable causes with the Perminder Chohan Foundation. He has successfully hosted and managed blanket drives as well as food drives for the less fortunate for the Foundation in 2018 and 2019. He is also currently working on some new projects for the foundation which will better assist the community at large.
Winners of the LGBTQ+ January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Awards for 2019 are announced
February 3, 2020, Surrey, British Columbia – Lebanese journalist and activist Norma Lize of Vancouver has won the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award top prize for 2019.
For these fifth annual awards, there were applicants from Metro Vancouver, Ontario, Newfoundland and even as far as India. Twenty-seven-year-old Norma Lize was selected as the top prize winner ($1,000 award) by a diverse eight-member jury.
The January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award was created by Sher Vancouver in 2015 to recognize young leaders who are advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. It is named after Sher Vancouver’s late social coordinator, January Marie Lapuz, a transgender Filipina woman who was tragically murdered in New Westminster, BC, in September 2012.
“January would be so proud that Norma, who also identifies as transgender, is this year’s winner! This is not surprising as Norma was also recognized at the prestigious Paris Prize for LGBTQ+ rights in 2018. We are fortunate to have Norma living in Vancouver now, and continuing her advocacy to benefit the people of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia,” says Alex Sangha, Sher Vancouver Founder and Award Coordinator.
In addition to the top prize, several other nominees were recognized at a ceremony today held at Surrey-based DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, a non-profit organization that came on board as the exclusive sponsor of the award this year.
“We are proud to provide support to Sher Vancouver and its January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award,” says Neelam Sahota, Chief Executive Officer, DIVERSEcity. “As a champion of diversity and inclusion, we at DIVERSEcity work to empower newcomers and other diverse or vulnerable communities, including LGBTQ+ members. We have a program called Together Now, a free peer support group for LGBTQ+ newcomers who face many challenges and cultural stigma. Our hope is to encourage acceptance and belonging for all, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”
The full list of winners is as follows:
Norma Lize, Winner ($1,000 prize)
27 years old | Vancouver, BC
Andy Holmes, First Runner Up ($600 prize)
23 years old | Vancouver, BC
Jackson Wai Chung Tse, Second Runner Up ($400 prize)
29 years old | Vancouver, BC
Sonali Patel, Honourable Mention ($200 prize)
23 years old | Oakville, Ontario
Emerging Youth Advocates Prizes
In addition to the top four winners above, this year Sher Vancouver decided to award seven Emerging Youth Advocates $100 prizes to encourage youth who are starting to do great work with their advocacy and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. The winners are:
- Aidan Andrew Pau of Delta, 17
- Candy of New Westminster, 23
- Gracie Reid of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, 17
- Guildford Park Gender and Sexuality Alliance of Surrey, under 18 years old
- Moe Yang of Richmond, 19
- Nel Jayson Cruz Santos of Vancouver, 21
- Nyx MacKinnon of Surrey, 16
About Sher Vancouver
Sher Vancouver is a non-profit society for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends, families and allies in Metro-Vancouver, BC. Sher Vancouver hopes to reduce the alienation and discrimination of people dealing with sexuality, gender and coming-out issues by providing advocacy, counselling, peer support and social activities. Everyone is welcome to join regardless of ethnicity, religious belief or sexuality. Learn more at shervancouver.com.
About Diverse city Community Resources Society
At DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society, we empower newcomers and other diverse communities to build the life they want in Canada. Our free, multilingual programs and services in language, settlement, employment and counselling provide them with a foundation of information, skills and connections to achieve their goals. Our social enterprises — DIVERSEcity Interpretation and Translation Services, Skills Training Centre and Language Testing Centre — support this work, too. As a registered charity in Surrey and the Lower Mainland with a 40+ year history, we champion diversity and inclusion for all, and our message is clear — everyone belongs here. Learn more at dcrs.ca.
NORMA LIZE, WINNER
Norma Lize is a Lebanese-born journalist and activist living in Vancouver. Before coming to Canada, Norma used radio and TV platforms to raise awareness on LGBTQ+ topics in Lebanon and the Middle East, and worked at the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality, where Norma focused on the trans community. “I don’t see my involvement with my community as work that I do every day, as much as I see it a necessity for me to be alive, survive and give a chance to someone around me to feel safe, respected and included. I moved to Vancouver a year ago and I have been involved with organizations working with refugees and with the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus more on trans newcomers.”
ANDY HOLMES, FIRST RUNNER UP
Andy Holmes is queer biracial Canadian with both Chinese and British/Scottish heritage. Currently a master’s student at the University of Toronto, researching LGBTQ+ issues, Andy intends on starting a PhD next year with the goal of eventually becoming a professor. “Knowing that January Marie Lapuz was not only a transgender woman living in poverty, but also an immigrant of colour, matters in understanding patterned forms of violence, and in turn, her irreplaceable memory. In my research, I study ways to ensure that our world becomes a safer place for those who are most marginalized.” Andy was the youngest person appointed to the City of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee between 2017–2018.
JACKSON WAI CHUNG TSE, SECOND RUNNER UP
Jackson Wai Chung Tse (he/she/they) is a media artist and creative facilitator originally from Hong Kong. He facilitates workshops at institutions across the globe, and, in 2018, Jackson created the award-winning mini-documentary, Paul Wong: Breaking the Silence, to highlight the discrimination felt by generations of queer Chinese migrants in Canada. The same year, Jackson was selected as Western Canada’s MEC Outdoor Nation Ambassador, taking over the co-operative’s social media. He says he “dedicates his life to building relationships, giving voice to the silenced, and reclaiming joy, magic and self-worth back from colonized ideas.”
SONALI PATEL, HONOURABLE MENTION
Sonali (Alyy) Patel is a graduate student in Ontario, LGBTQ+ rights activist and co-founder of a national non-profit organization, the Queer South Asian Women’s Network. Sonali states she strives to bring visibility to “issues and experiences of queer South Asian women in the LGBTQ+ community through research and advocacy work.” Notably, she organized Halton Region’s first LGBTQ+ Pride Festival in 2015, was invited to speak at Rainbow Health Ontario’s National LGBTQ+ Health Conference, and recently published a peer-reviewed article on the culturally specific ways in which queer South Asian women experience racism in Western LGBTQ+ communities.
Interview with DJ Heer for the Canucks Diwali Night
On October 25th, the Vancouver Canucks will be celebrating their 3rd annual Diwali Night before and during the game against the Washington Capitals. There will be a flashmob, and live performances by Jazzy B, DJ Heer, and DJ BIG. And also complimentary South Asian food samples in the concourses.
Diwali is one of the world’s most celebrated festivals and the name itself means “row of lighted lamps” with light symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, prosperity over poverty and knowledge over ignorance.
We’ve interviewed DJ Jovan Heer, who now lives in Surrey, to learn more about him and the upcoming Diwali Night.
Being a huge passionate fan of the Canucks and of music, you’ve combined both to help spearhead the Diwali Night. How did that happen and what motivated you to take action?
I’ve always been a fan of Punjabi and Bollywood music ever since I was a kid. I saw a huge opportunity to do something with the Canucks as their is such a big South Asian community in the Vancouver area. 3 years ago I reached out to Ryan from the Canucks, who was in charge of organizing special events, on Twitter saying that we needed to have a night that celebrated the South Asian community in a way.
A few months later, I received an email from him asking me if I wanted to DJ on the plaza outside of Rogers Arena and I was shocked that it was actually going to happen and that I would have the opportunity to DJ for my favourite team. The first year was an amazing experience, after I DJ’ed on the plaza I was able to go to where Jay Swing was DJing and was able to see how everything operated up there and also got to share the floor with the likes of Jim Benning, Trevor Linden and many more prominent Canucks figures up in the press box during intermissions and at the end of the game.
Last year was even bigger when E3 Entertainment got involved and they made the event even bigger and better with the addition of more performances and the Crown Prince of Bhangra Jazzy B, myself and the Q-Town Productions team also DJ’ed on the Plaza along with a Bhangra flashmob. Diwali night has become a huge deal and is making news all over as this is an event everyone wants to attend. The Hockey Night In Punjabi team is also another huge factor in this night as they have grown very much in the past few years and have brought in a whole new demographic of fans with the Punjabi commentary as now families are now all gathering together watching games.
How did you get into DJ’ing and who are your main influencers?
I’ve always had a passion for music growing up as a child, my parents would play music and I would dance for hours listening to it and singing along. When I realized that I could do what I love and be the life of the party with the music I play it was something that I just couldn’t pass up. I had mentors in Edmonton who I worked with under the Pure Entertainment name and I also took some classes with Night Vision Music as well that helped excel my skill level. My main influencers have to be Jazzy B, Malkit Singh and Notorious BIG as they’ve made me a huge Bhangra and Hip Hop fan.
You get booked to perform in different countries. How does that feel?
It’s honestly a surreal feeling having the chance to not only travel but to perform in front of sold out crowds of hundreds to thousands of people along with performing alongside some of the biggest performers in the Punjabi music industry.
What would you like to see more of in terms of both the music and hockey culture in Surrey?
I think right now everything is going great with the culture. We have Hockey Night in Punjabi with Punjabi commentary and broadcasting, there are many South Asian players on ice and ball hockey teams so parents are now investing the money and putting their kids in these leagues. E3 Entertainment has done a great job working with the Canucks making sure the experience of the entire night is a success and fans are enjoying the entire night.
What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring and rookie DJ’s and music producers?
Marketing is everything in today’s day and age. The harder you work, the more you put out there, the more successful you will be. There are plenty of talented DJ’s out there but so many are so resistant and don’t make the time to put out mixes that fans can listen to.
How do you balance being a DJ, working a full time job, and the rest of life?
It’s all about balance. It’s a lot of juggling things and a lot of nights with no sleep but in the end if it’s going to make you successful and set you up for the future then it is all worth it. Not only am I working full time and DJing but I also have my own radio show on Rukus Avenue Radio and am a music journalist for Simply Bhangra the world’s largest South Asian music website as well. It’s tough to handle at times but it’s something I enjoy doing.
What can fans expect at the Diwali Night?
Fans can expect another Diwali night full of music and dance. We will be performing on the plaza outside of Rogers Arena prior to the game and their will be many other plans for the night as well. The highlight of the night will be the performance of Jazzy B who is one of the top Punjabi music artists of all time.
What are your predictions for the game against the Capitals?
I predict a 4-2 win for the Canucks, we are 2-0 on Diwali Night.
One of BC’s first female fire fighters retires after 27 years with the Surrey Fire Service
Surrey – In 1992, Nancy Innes was playing and coaching basketball at SFU when she saw a recruitment flyer for the Surrey Fire Service (SFS). The then 26-year-old student applied and soon realized women firefighters were a rarity. In fact, at that time, there was no glass ceiling to break because there were no full-time female fire fighters in the Metro Vancouver area. On September 14, 1992, Nancy Innes became the first of two full-time female fire fighters to join the Surrey Fire Service and eventually rising to the rank of Fire Suppression Captain.
“Women fire fighters are not uncommon today, but 27 years ago they were non-existent in Lower Mainland fire departments,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Nancy Innes is truly a trail blazer and inspiration for women who want to make a career out of firefighting. I want to congratulate Captain Innes for the long, distinguished and groundbreaking career she has had with our Surrey Fire Service.”
The Surrey Fire Service is proud of its progressive and barrier-free approach to its recruitment.
“I want to commend Captain Innes for her contributions to the Surrey Fire Service,” said Fire Chief, Larry Thomas. “Nancy is proof that women can have long and fulfilling careers as fire fighters. As Nancy moves into a well-earned retirement, I know her pioneering work will inspire other women to fill her place within the ranks of the Surrey Fire Service.”
Currently, the SFS has 40 women in its uniformed ranks in roles ranging from frontline firefighting and dispatch to Assistant Fire Chief. The SFS offer “Women in Firefighting” workshops designed to enhance recruitment of women to the fire service.
Is Your House Haunted? Call Paranormal Spectrum Investigations BC
The definition of the word paranormal is that which can not be explained by science. But what is the paranormal? Sure, the first thing that comes to mind is ghosts or spirits. But there is so much more to it than just that. In fact, there is quite a broad spectrum to the subject and there really is quite a bit that science can’t explain. That’s where Paranormal Spectrum Investigations BC comes in.
We are a non-profit team of paranormal investigators that have many years of experience investigating and researching the paranormal field. The team is co-founded by friends, Aimée Bucholtz and Mike Lutke. Aimée brings over 10 years experience as a lead investigator, researcher and case manager. Mike comes to the team with 3 years of investigative experience as a lead investigator and social media manager. Both of us have an unparalleled passion for not only the paranormal but also for helping people find answers for things that go bump in the night (or day). It’s our goal to do what it takes in order for our clients to feel comfortable in their homes or businesses. ]
We like to take a scientific approach using some of the latest paranormal investigative tools but also keep it simple by using some very common household items. We are not afraid to try new methods of investigation nor will we dismiss theories and ideas that have not proven to work well in the past. It’s our ideology that just because something didn’t work before doesn’t mean it won’t work now. When it comes to the paranormal, the more creative you are, the better. At least that’s what we believe.
Our team also has a healthy dose of skepticism and belief in the paranormal. But, that being said, we’ve had enough unexplained events happen to us that it keeps us coming back for more. We’ve been touched by unseen presences, heard disembodied voices and seen things with our own eyes that many would not believe unless they were there too. And this is all in the confines of the Lower Mainland area!! To say that this region is a paranormal hot spot would be an understatement.
While it is not up to us to tell our clients if their home or business is “haunted”, we will provide them with peace of mind and some suggestions on what we believe may be the cause of their concerns. Sometimes all it is, is an overactive imagination or noisy pipes in the walls!
Our team is the newest to join the paranormal landscape in the Lower Mainland. We are based in the Surrey/Langley area, but also willing and able to accept possible residential, historical or business investigations in other communities in the region. We plan to begin operations on October 1st.
For those that would like to follow along and see what the team is up to or just have a general interest in the paranormal, we can be found on Twitter @ParanormalSI_BC on Instagram @paranormalspectrumbc and on Facebook at Paranormal Spectrum Investigations British Columbia. We can also be found on the web at https://www.paranormalspectruminvestigationsbc.com where we provide information for everyone’s paranormal needs in Surrey and the rest of the Lower Mainland.
Not to sound like a certain movie from the 80’s but if there is something strange in your neighbourhood… well, we will leave the rest up to you but we wouldn’t rule out being contacted. We are Paranormal Spectrum Investigations BC and we are ready to help find answers for you.
~ Mike Lutke
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