Surrey’s Prachi Khanna, 18, grabbed the top spot and $500 prize. Khanna is known as the driving force in facilitating consultations with students and the administration in her school community for an all-student washroom.
“For all those South Asian kids who may not be in a safe environment, hang in there, things will happen and things will change,” Khanna said. “You did what matters to you and you did not give in to the fear.”
Khanna is known for the volunteering work within the community including organizing SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) awareness campaigns.
The annual award and the prize money issued is based on the applicants involvment within the community, both locally and internationally. The award given out in honour of Lapuz is on merit and if two applicants are tied, the committee looks at their social adversity.
Erjon Tela and Ran Ya Chib are two of the runner-ups who live in Surrey. Tela, a recent immigrant was one of the organizers of the first gay pride in Albania and trained students of the country’s police academy on LGBT issues.
According to Alex Sangha, the founder of Sher Vancouver, some of the applicants are in difficult situations with their sexuality rejected by their families and are living in foster care.
Lapuz, who passed away in 2012, was an immigrant from the Philippines and was a transgender. Sangha said that her loss was hard for the group and devastated them.
“We are very happy to remember January this way,” Sangha said. “She had a really tough life but on the outside, she had a bright spirit.”
Sher Vancouver is a non-profit society for LGBT South Asians, their friends, families and allies. It will mark its 10th anniversary in April 2018.
More to come.