A Matter of Pride
The Governor General of Canada has recently awarded Amar (Alex) Sangha, BSW’99, with the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for founding Sher Vancouver, a not-for-profit society providing assistance to LGBTQ South Asians and their friends, families, and allies.
Awarded annually, the medal recognizes individuals who, according to a letter Sangha received from Director of Honours Sacha Richard on behalf of Governor General Julie Payette, have made “remarkable contributions in many different fields of endeavour, who inspire others and who share a common goal of making a positive difference.”
Originally launched in 2008 as an online support group for LGBTQ Sikhs, Sher Vancouver gradually expanded to become an umbrella organization for all members of the queer South Asian community. As their membership grew, so too did the scope of Sher Vancouver’s initiatives. Among these are the Dosti project (2009), bringing South Asians into local schools to give workshops about coming out; the Out and Proud project (2013, shervancouver.wordpress.com), an online platform to showcase the strength and diversity of the global queer South Asian community; and a 2016 campaign to raise funds in support of an Indian youth studying in Vancouver whose family abandoned him after he came out as gay.
Sher Vancouver’s colourful floats have become a crowd favourite of the Vancouver Pride Parade, and in 2017 Sher Vancouver became the first LGBTQ organization to be part of the Vancouver and Surrey Vaisakhi parades – some of the largest Vaisakhi events in the world outside of India.
Sangha dedicates the Meritorious Service Medal to his mother, Jaspal Kaur Sangha, crediting her for “raising me and my two brothers largely as a single parent.”
“Most importantly,” adds Sangha, “I am hoping this recognition will provide me with a platform to continue to advocate for LGBTQ people around the world who are victims of abuse, discrimination, oppression, and even torture and death.”
For more information, visit shervancouver.com
Jillian Cooke, BASc’93, reports that the Chemical Engineering Class of 1993 held their 25-year reunion on the weekend of May 18-20. It was well attended with more than 30 alumni returning to UBC from Singapore, Hong Kong, Texas, Connecticut, Oregon, and across Canada. They first celebrated at a pub night, with new custom patches for their reds, and the next day Marlene Chow (director of Academic Programs, Administration and Resources for the Faculty of Chemical and Biological Engineering) and Dr. Peter Englezos led a tour of the “new” building and labs. The engineers’ cairn provided a location for group photos. Faculty, staff, and family joined the classmates at the new ESC/Cheeze, where the class presented a cheque to the department for $10,000 towards the much-loved third year field trips. They closed the festivities with a fun slide show, spanning first jobs to current news for each grad. More gatherings to follow!