Surrey, British Columbia – January 23, 2023
In a historic moment marking the 9th annual January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec clinched the top honors, with Windsor's Sydney Brouillard-Coyle and Anjou's Lina Tharcilla Irutavyose sharing the first-place position. This groundbreaking achievement signifies the first-ever tie for the prestigious award in its nearly decade-long history. New Westminster's Wazhma Yasini and Amélia Simard secured the titles of 1st and 2nd runner-up, while Aliyah Ali earned an honorable mention.
Named in memory of January Marie Lapuz, a transgender Filipina woman and former social coordinator of Sher Vancouver, the award recognizes outstanding contributions to 2SLGBTQ+ youth leadership. Tragically, January Marie Lapuz passed away in New Westminster in September 2012, and her legacy lives on through this annual accolade.
In the 2023 award cycle, 26 remarkable applicants from across Canada showcased their dedication and activism within the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The diversity and depth of talent among the applicants were lauded by Sher Vancouver Founder, Alex Sangha, who remarked, "It is amazing to see all these youth doing incredible activism in the 2SLGBTQ+ community across Canada."
Sydney Brouillard-Coyle and Lina Tharcilla Irutavyose demonstrated exceptional commitment, passion, and leadership in their respective communities, earning them the shared top spot. Their joint victory emphasizes the growing influence and impact of 2SLGBTQ+ youth leaders in advocating for equality, inclusivity, and social change.
Wazhma Yasini and Amélia Simard, as 1st and 2nd runner-up, showcased outstanding dedication to the cause, contributing significantly to the advancement of 2SLGBTQ+ rights. Additionally, Aliyah Ali's honorable mention acknowledges her noteworthy efforts and commitment to fostering a more inclusive society.
The January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award not only celebrates the achievements of the winners but also serves as a testament to the vibrant activism present in the Canadian 2SLGBTQ+ youth community. This year's recipients stand as inspiring examples of the positive impact young leaders can make, carrying forward January Marie Lapuz's legacy of resilience, advocacy, and empowerment.
About Sher Vancouver
Sher Vancouver is a social, cultural, and support organization for LGBTQ+ South Asians and their friends and families. Founded in 2008, Sher Vancouver aims to foster a sense of belonging, provide resources, and promote social change through various initiatives and community engagement.
About the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award
Established in memory of January Marie Lapuz, the award recognizes outstanding leadership and activism among 2SLGBTQ+ youth in Canada. It honors individuals who exemplify dedication, courage, and resilience in advocating for equality and inclusivity. The annual award reflects the ongoing commitment to fostering positive change within the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
(16 to 30)
· Winner (Tied), $1000 - Sydney Brouillard-Coyle, 23, Windsor, Ontario
· Winner (Tied), $1000 - Lina Tharcilla Irutavyose, 30, Anjou, Quebec
· 1st Runner Up, $600 - Wazhma Yasini, 28, New Westminster, BC
· 2nd Runner Up, $400 - Amélia Simard, 23, New Westminster, BC
· Honourable Mention, $200 - Aliyah Ali, 26, Toronto, Ontario
EMERGING YOUTH LEADERS
(16 to 23)
In addition to the Top 5 winners above, this year we decided to award six Emerging Youth Leader prizes. These are youth from 16 to 23 years of age who did not rank in the Top 5 but their applications were strong enough to be deserving of recognition. Sher Vancouver wants to encourage, acknowledge, and recognize youth doing great work with their advocacy and contributions to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.The six Emerging Youth Leaders are listed below in random order.
· Winner, $200 - Viplav Subramanian, 22, Vancouver, BC (UBC)
· Winner, $200 - Kimberli Kolody-watt, 16, Regina, Saskatchewan
· Winner, $200 - Adrian Binne, 16, Winnipeg, Manitoba
· Winner, $200 - Ray Kelly, 22, Mission, BC
· Winner, $200 - Brandon Bal, 17, Surrey, BC
· Winner, $200 - Sadie Miniely, 17, Winnipeg, Manitoba
OVERALL WINNER (TIED)
Sydney Brouillard-Coyle (Ney/Nem/Nir), 23, Windsor, Ontario
Sydney is a queer, asexual, transgender, and non-binary person with a deep passion for social justice. Ney recently authored nir first book, A Pocket Guide to Pronouns. Ney are currently studying a Masters of Arts in Social Justice & Community Engagement at Wilfrid Laurier University; ney also hold a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Arts in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Windsor.
Sydney lives by the motto “be the change you wish to see in the world.” A long-time activist and former candidate for Windsor’s City Council, ney are particularly passionate about issues relating to equity, trans and queer rights, mental health, food and housing insecurity, the environment, and youth voices. Ney believe that education is the key to reducing misinformation and creating safer spaces for everyone.
OVERALL WINNER (TIED)
Lina Tharcilla Irutavyose (she/her), 30, Anjou, QuebecLina Tharcilla Irutavyose (She/Her) possesses over four years of experience in LGBTQ+ organizations. Presently, Lina serves as a community worker providing essential services to newcomers at the Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Center within a program named The Compass. In this role, she extends much-needed support to LGBTQ+ newcomers, particularly those from various African countries.
Previously, Lina held the position of Community Exchanges and Events Officer at an LGBTQ+ organization based in Burundi. In this capacity, she focused on planning and executing community events and group discussions, both virtually and physically, within the LGBTQ+ community at the regional level.
Lina's dedication to community involvement is evident through her volunteer work in various organizations in her home country, Burundi. She served as an English facilitator in language clubs, advocated for children's interests in entities like BFI (Burundi Friends International) and IYF (International Youth Fellowship) during the 2012 World Camp, and actively contributed to the LBQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer) taskforce.
Since arriving in Canada, Lina has continued her commitment to community service by engaging in volunteer work with different organizations, including PRAIDA, CCLGBTQ+, and Action Refugee Montreal. In these roles, she has undertaken various tasks to contribute to the welfare of the communities she serves.
Educationally, Lina holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Management, with a focus on NGO management. Her passion for entrepreneurship stems from a belief in finding solutions through entrepreneurial endeavors. Lina is dedicated to making a positive impact within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.
1st Runner Up
Wazhma Yasini, 28, New Westminster, BC
Wazhma Yasini is a dedicated professional with over five years of experience in IT, coordination, communication, and customer service. Fluent in English, Dari, Persian, Pashto, Urdu, and Hindi, Wazhma is a versatile problem solver, active listener, and team player. Her achievements include volunteering with Journey Home Community, raising over $5000 for immigrant support, and facilitating IT workshops for the Ministry of Finance in Afghanistan.
2nd Runner Up
Amélia Simard, (they/them), 23, New Westminster, BC
Amélia is an emerging French-Canadian filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist and 2SLGBTQIA+ activist from the traditional and unceded territories of the Lekwungen and Songhees peoples (Victoria, BC). Now based in so-called Vancouver, they have completed their BFA in Film at Simon Fraser University where they have written, shot and directed short narrative dramas and documentary films. In their practice, Amélia explores themes of queerness, language through metaphors based in memory, nostalgia and the fantastical.
In their community work, Amélia has contributed to creating more inclusive spaces in film and TV by collaborating with Eli Morris on the Gender Equity in Media Society (GEMS) name change project. They are currently working with "le Comité Francoqueer de l'ouest" (FrancoQueer Committee of Western Canada) in community development and education, giving workshops and creating programming for the french-speaking communities of BC. Amélia intends to continue working towards the normalization and visibility of 2SLGBTQIA+ people and presence in francophone communities locally and in all of the northwest of Turtle Island.
Aliyah Ali (she/they), 26, Toronto, Ontario
Aliyah is 26 years old and identifies as a Disabled Queer-Muslim of Colour. She grew up in a culturally religious South Asian household. Aliyah resides in Toronto, ON, on the “Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and the Traditional Territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, and the Huron Wendat.” Aliyah received a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Criminology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in June 2020. She also received two awards on behalf of the Department of Criminology for her exceptional community engagement and contributions to scholarship. Aliyah received a Master of Arts in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from the University of British Columbia in May 2023. She received teaching experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Aliyah also volunteers on Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Research Ethics Board as a Community Member, where she reviews and revises the Faculty of Arts research ethics applications and amendments.
Emerging Youth Leader
Viplav Subramanian (he/they), 22, Vancouver, BC (UBC)
Passionate about reparative justice, social welfare and marginalized practices of epistemology and pedagogy, I am currently enrolled at the Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ) Institute at UBC’s Master’s Program. Informed by my want to mobilize marginalized communities within scholarship and in attempting to combat a Euro-centric epistemic violence, my thesis project hopes to explore the presence of patterns, mannerisms and behaviours that uphold heteronormativity within Queer South Asian existences, the abjection of the abjected, as a condition to belong to society. The project also intends to grasp the ways in which hetero-patriarchy and conformity to conventionality are being resisted within the community to promote and propagate a revolutionary sense of Queerness and being. Outside the academy, I am keen in promoting social well-being for various intersectional marginalized communities through volunteering with various social organizations, and publishing thought pieces and articles. I hold numerous hobbies that keep me entertained and busy such as Indian classical music (vocals), public speaking, reading fiction novels, going on walks, spending time in nature and with a community of folk that I deeply care for.
Emerging Youth Leader
Kimberli Kolody-watt, (she/they), Regina, Saskatchewan
Hi, my name is Kimberli Kolody-watt, and I'm Metis Cree from Regina, Saskatchewan. My pronouns are She/They. I have always been a happy and helpful child, especially toward the adults in my life. I would always try to help those in need. My lifetime closest friend came out to me as a lesbian, which is when I was initially introduced to the LGBTQ+ Community. Until that day, I had no idea that there were gender variations in sexual orientation and that anyone could be loved. Growing up, I became more and more aware of the community and came out. As an LGBTQ+ youth, it was difficult for me in the beginning of my life to enter high school because of all the prejudice and bullying, but I grew up with realizing that bad things may be seen as teaching opportunities and should not be taken personally because doing so will make them control your life, which is not living. I created a club because I wanted to help all the young people in my school. I love that they can rely on me and their classmates, and I hope to keep them in this leadership role.
Emerging Youth Leader
Adrian Binne (he/him), 16, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Adrian is a 16 year old queer transracial adoptee from China in his third year of high school. Adrian takes honours courses, is part of student government and is involved in many extracurriculars through his school and in his larger community.
Adrian is a queer activist, an immigrant, a friend and ally. He works towards emphasising conversations on intersectionality and social justice issues. He aspires towards making his city and school (both on treaty one territory) more accepting places for all regardless of their gender, sexuality, race or economic status.
Adrian frequently organises drives, fundraisers and events for charities and causes he believes in, at both his school and in his community. He prides himself on being a leader and has undertaken this role in many groups including Youth in Philanthropy, Kiwanis Manitoba and Diversify among others. Adrian is currently co-president of his school’s GSA alongside Sadie Miniely, one of the other Emerging Youth prize winners.
Adrian’s long-term goal is to be a resource to the 2SLGBTQIA* community. He always strives to be someone who people can come to and who. He is working towards being a cosmetic surgeon who specialises in gender-affirming care. Adrian looks forward to taking on more in the coming years, and he’s confident this won’t be the last time we hear from him.
Emerging Youth Leader
Ray Kelly (they/them), 22, Mission, BC
"My name is Ray and I identify as a proud member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. I am currently in the last year of my Bachelor of Arts, pursuing a major in French, an extended minor in Global Development Studies, and a TESL certification. I have been involved in the University of the Fraser Valley’s Pride Collective since 2021 and have since been elected as President of the organization. I am appreciative of all of the opportunities that I have been able to take part in, including supporting the facilitation of UFV’s first Queer Prom, attending the second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly, creating Queer-competent ESL instructional materials through my TESL practicum, and being able to connect with the diverse community within the Fraser Valley. I look forward to using these experiences to help me to become the best teacher I can be and to foster a safe inclusive environment for my students."
Emerging Youth Leader
Brandon Bal (he/him), 17, Surrey, BC
Brandon is a first-generation, Punjabi-Canadian teenager from Surrey, BC. He goes to school in North Delta, BC where he has been an active leader in every aspect of the community. From athletics, leadership clubs, entertainment and more, he has proven himself as a strong leader and advocate for minority groups. Whether it be running for school president (and being elected,) competing in sports at a provincial level, to representing BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ people on national television, he continuously uses his voice to advocate for marginalized and under-represented groups. He prides himself as a professional communicator as he can speak and understand over seven languages fluently and he uses this skill to connect with different people, from different backgrounds, with different experiences, to ensure that as a leader, he always creates environments based on trust, understanding and kindness. Brandon speaks on 2SLGBTQ+ culture, issues, and stigmas in his community to build a more positive place for the next generation of students.
Emerging Youth Leader
Sadie Miniely (She/He/They), 17, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sadie Miniely is a 17-year-old gender-fluid student from Manitoba. Raised by two moms, they were taught from a young age to stand up for themselves and advocate for those around them. Sadie has been working as an advocate for the queer community for many years by writing letters and speaking out against injustice. They have taken on several leadership positions which has granted them the platform to teach others about the LGBTQ+ community and the issues it faces.
Today they work as the co-president for their school’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance alongside fellow emerging leader, Adrian Binne. The club focuses on supporting and fostering the school’s queer community. The GSA has run numerous successful events including selling buttons in support of pronoun day, a doughnut fundraiser for a local charity, and various community events. While the club mostly focuses on community-building initiatives they hope to implement more activism and education opportunities in the coming year.
Moving into the future they hope to continue breaking barriers by opening discussions about the queer experience. It is only by remaining visible, talking about our lives, and implementing queer education that we can ensure the safety of all.
Photos of the winners attached
Founder of Sher Vancouver