Norma Lize. (submitted photo)

In Surrey, Norma Lize wins LGBTQ+ January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award

Annual award was created by Sher Vancouver in 2015 to recognize its late social co-ordinator

Norma Lize, a Vancouver-area journalist and activist, has won the 2020 LGBTQ+ January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award top prize.

In Surrey, an award ceremony was held Monday afternoon (Feb. 3) at the DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society campus on 76th Avenue.

An eight-member jury chose Lize as the $1,000 award winner after judging applicants from across Metro Vancouver, Ontario, Newfoundland and India.

The annual award was created by Sher Vancouver in 2015 to recognize the organization’s late social co-ordinator, January Marie Lapuz, a transgender woman raised in Surrey. Two years ago, the 25-minute “My Name Was January” documentary movie eulogized Lapuz, who was stabbed to death at her home in New Westminster in September of 2012. She was 26.

• RELATED STORY, from 2018: Surrey-raised murder victim remembered in new documentary film.

Lize, 27, used radio and TV platforms to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ topics in her native Lebanon and the Middle East before moving to Vancouver last year, according to a bio submitted by Sher Vancouver, a non-profit society for LGBTQ South Asians and supporters.

“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,” Lize stated. “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.”

Alex Sangha, Sher Vancouver founder and award co-ordinator, said Lapuz would be proud to see Lize as this year’s award winner.

“This is not surprising as Norma was also recognized at the prestigious Paris Prize for LGBTQ+ rights in 2018,” Sangha said. “We are fortunate to have Norma living in Vancouver now, and continuing her advocacy to benefit the people of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia.”

Three award winners were recognized at Monday’s ceremony, including Andy Holmes (given a $600 prize as first runner-up), Jackson Wai Chung Tse ($400, second runner-up) and Sonali Patel ($200, honourable Mention).

In addition to the top-four winners, seven Emerging Youth Advocate prizes worth $100 each were given to Aidan Andrew Pau of Delta, Candy of New Westminster, Gracie Reid of Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, Guildford Park Gender and Sexuality Alliance of Surrey, Moe Yang of Richmond, Nel Jayson Cruz Santos of Vancouver and Nyx MacKinnon of Surrey.

• READ ALSO: Struggles of South Asian gays and lesbians documented in new film.

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